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Welcome to Congressman Larry Bucshon

Representing the 8th District of Indiana

Dr. Bucshon Comments on Asian Carp Letter

March 27, 2014
Press Release

Congressman Larry Bucshon, M.D. joined members of the Indiana and Illinois Congressional delegations to send a letter the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Chicago District, voicing concerns about the use of hydrologic separation on the Great Lakes and Mississippi River basins in an attempt to control the Asian carp population. 

“The migration of Asian carp into the Great Lakes basin is a significant problem that needs to be addressed,” said Bucshon. “At the same time, we need to make sure that any proposed solutions do not have an adverse impact on the region’s economy.  Unfortunately, the Corps has proposed the use of hydrologic separation, putting $4.7 billion of economic activity in the region at risk without a guarantee that it will prevent Asian carp from spreading into the Great Lakes. I thank my colleagues for taking this issue seriously and I’m disappointed that the entire Indiana delegation did not join us in protecting 17,000 Hoosier jobs.” 

The members penned the letter in response to the Great Lakes and Mississippi River Interbasin Study (GLMRIS), which looked at eight options to control the spread of Aquatic Nuisances Species (ANS), especially Bighead and Silver carp, collectively known as Asian carp. 

While the members expressed an explicit concern that Asian carp pose a threat to the region’s economy and environment and the need for a solution, the group also explained the use of hydrologic separation would have a profound adverse impact on the economy and would do little to inhibit the spread of Asian carp. 

The members wrote: “The study shows that a hydrologic separation would cost tens of billions of dollars while taking an estimated 25 years to come into effect as a mechanism to potentially control the movement of Asian carp.  A plan involving hydrologic separation would also require extensive and costly efforts to prevent flooding and water quality degradation stemming from the project.  Even with a multi-billion dollar cost and a 25-year operational timeline, the Army Corps still cannot guarantee that Asian carp will not spread into the Great lakes.” 

Estimates shows hydrologic separation would result in a $4.7 billion economic loss on the Chicagoland area over 20 years.  The group also warned that hydrologic separation would lead to a reduction in barge movements, which specific to the O’Brien Lock, generate $1.9 billion in economic activity and support over 17,000 Hoosier jobs. Furthermore, the switchover from barge traffic to overland shipping would increase economic inefficiencies and negative environmental impacts. 

Representatives Bucshon and Carson co-led the letter that included signatures from Indiana Reps Brooks, Messer, Rokita, Stutzman, Walorski, Young, and Senator Coats. 

A copy of the letter is included below and can be accessed online here

March 21, 2014 

US Army Corps of Engineers, Chicago District
231 S. LaSalle St. Suite 1500
ATTN: GLMRIS Comments, Dave Wethington
Chicago, IL 60604

Dear Mr. Wethington,

We are writing in response to the Great Lakes and Mississippi River Interbasin Study (GLMRIS) that was released by the Army Corps of Engineers on Monday, January 6, 2014. The study looked at eight options to control the spread of Aquatic Nuisance Species (ANS), especially Bighead and Silver carp, collectively known as Asian carp.

As the study points out, Asian carp pose a threat to the economy and environment of the region, including tourism, biodiversity, navigation, and more. In spite of the potential harms, Illinois has successfully abated the spread of Asian carp for over a decade thanks to measures such as the electric barriers put in place in Lockport, IL in 2002. The study also finds that if no new actions are taken, there is a significant risk of the Asian carp reaching the lakes after 25 years. This timeline is worth considering given that five of the alternatives will take at least that long to complete.

We want to voice our concerns on four of the study’s containment proposals that involve some form of hydrologic separation, whereby the Great Lakes and Mississippi River basins would be separated by permanent physical barriers. Such a measure would have a profound adverse effect on Illinois, Indiana, and states throughout the region and might still allow the Asian carp to reach the Great Lakes during construction.

The study shows that a hydrologic separation would cost tens of billions of dollars while taking an estimated 25 years to come into effect as a mechanism to potentially control the movement of the Asian carp. A plan involving hydrologic separation would also require extensive and costly efforts to prevent flooding and water quality degradation stemming from the project. Even with a multi-billion dollar cost and a 25-year operational timeline, the Army Corps still cannot guarantee that Asian carp will not spread into the Great Lakes. 

We believe that vigorous action is needed to control the risk of Asian carp, but we fear that any action that takes an estimated 25 years to implement will actually take much longer – the report acknowledges real estate acquisition, permitting, and a lack of timely funding could further slow construction – and involve a substantial risk of Asian carp reaching the Great Lakes. 

In addition to the risk of delays, a 2010 study by DePaul University of hydrologic separation estimated that the impact on the Chicagoland area alone would be a $4.7 billion economic loss over 20 years, with a $582 million loss in the first year and $531 million annually in the seven years after. Additionally, a 2010 study by Martin Associates found that barge movements through the O’Brien Lock generates $1.9 billion in economic activity a year and supports over 17,000 jobs in Indiana.

A hydrologic separation would stifle the area economy at a time when, as the study points out, barge and other commercial traffic on the Chicago Area Waterway System (CAWS) is projected to recover to its pre-recessionary levels by 2020. Furthermore, the economic inefficiencies and environmental impacts that would result due to a switchover from barge traffic – the average barge carries 80 truckloads of freight at a time – to overland shipping would be severely negative.

While a healthy dialogue on an issue requires consideration of all available options, it is clear that hydrologic separation involves significant economic costs to our region and taxpayers while potentially doing too little to stop the spread of the Asian carp. We encourage the continued study of this important issue, especially new technologies that can protect the ecosystem from the spread of Asian carp. However, any solution that moves forward must be calibrated to offer the greatest efficacy for containment of the carp and the lowest regional economic impact achievable.

Sincerely,

 

Peter Roskam
Member of Congress

Dan Lipinski
Member of Congress

Larry Bucshon, M.D. 
Member of Congress

Andre Carson
Member of Congress

Mark Kirk
U.S. Senator

Dan Coats
U.S. Senator

William L. Enyart
Member of Congress

Rodney Davis
Member of Congress

Randy Hultgren
Member of Congress

John Shimkus
Member of Congress

Adam Kinzinger
Member of Congress

Cheri Bustos
Member of Congress

Aaron Shock
Member of Congress

Jackie Walorski
Member of Congress

Marlin Stutzman
Member of Congress

Todd Rokita
Member of Congress

Susan Brooks
Member of Congress

Luke Messer
Member of Congress

Todd Young
Member of Congress