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Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Michigan sues Illinois in Supreme Court over invasive fish species
Jaclyn Belczyk at 9:07 AM ET

[JURIST] The state of Michigan on Monday filed suit [motion for preliminary injunction, PDF; petition, PDF] in the US Supreme Court [official website] against the state of Illinois seeking to close two waterways that allow invasive Asian carp to reach the Great Lakes. Michigan officials fear that the 100-pound fish, which reproduce rapidly, could wipe out native species and destroy the $7 billion Great Lakes fishing industry. Michigan is seeking to reopen a longstanding controversy [backgrounder, PDF] over the diversion canal, created in the 1890s to keep Chicago's sewage from flowing into Lake Michigan. The Court has issued decrees over the canal in 1930, 1933, 1956, 1967 and 1980. Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox said [press release]:

Stopping Asian carp is an economic and environmental necessity for Michigan. The Great Lakes are an irreplaceable resource. Thousands of jobs are at stake and we will not get a second chance once the carp enter Lake Michigan. The actions of Illinois and federal authorities have not been enough to assure us the Lakes are safe. That's why the waterways must be shut down until we are assured that Michigan will be protected.

The Supreme Court has original jurisdiction over disputes between states. The Court could rule on the motion for preliminary injunction [NYT report] as early as next week and then determine whether to take up the larger issue.

The carp have been traveling up the Mississippi and Illinois rivers for years. Last month, tests showed that the carp may have gotten through an underwater electric barrier and may now be within six miles of Lake Michigan. The fish were originally imported to control algae in fisheries on the Mississippi River, but escaped during a 1990s flood.

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