Asian carp should be presidential issue

Guest Editorial
It’s mighty puzzling that the Asian carp threat to the Great Lakes isn’t gaining much traction as a presidential election issue. There is much to discuss.

There is no disputing the carp’s destructive powers. The fish is an eating machine that decimates the food sources of native species such as walleye, trout and salmon. If the carp become established in the Great Lakes — and the fish is knocking at the door — it could destroy the region’s $7 billion annual sports fishing industry.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is the target of critics frustrated with its agonizingly slow pace in creating a comprehensive strategy to prevent Asian carp from harming the Great Lakes.

Five Great Lakes states — Wisconsin, Minnesota, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Michigan — are plaintiffs in a federal lawsuit to force a Chicago canal that connects with Lake Michigan to be re-engineered. The suit also demands the corps’ carp-prevention study be completed sooner than 2015.

Despite this pressure, the corps declared it would not comply with the Stop Invasive Species Act, a law Congress passed and President Barack Obama signed.

The act requires the corps to submit an expedited action plan with options for stopping Asian carp from penetrating the Great Lakes across 18 possible entry points. The corps said it will delay its carp prevention plan from its scheduled fall 2013 presentation to January 2014.

It is outrageous that the corps has acted so defiantly.

The clock is ticking. DNA evidence of Asian carp was found in Lake Erie. Asian carp are said to be nearing Lake Michigan through Chicago waterways as well. Somebody ought to tell the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers it must obey the law.