If it wasn’t bad enough that the Federal plan for dealing with the carp is short sighted, now Carpageddon is eating into the historic Great Lakes Restoration Initiative funding. The Feds are paying for their $78.5 million battle plan (weak as it is) with the $475 million GLRI funds.
We fought long and hard for those dollars. Now a significant portion will not go toward Great Lakes restoration priorities, but instead will be spent on fish poison, electronic barriers (that have yet to be turned on at full voltage), increased monitoring and flood control. Meanwhile, the one urgent move the Feds could make – closing the locks until a permanent separation can be made – remains off the agenda.
“In various meetings with federal officials, they have assured our delegation that they have the necessary funding to address the situation and that they have authority to close the locks,” Mich. Sen. Carl Levin (D) stated. He added that he was not happy with the way the agencies are budgeting for the problem. “The Administration is relying on funding from the Environmental Protection Agency’s Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) to supplement Asian carp control efforts. That was not the purpose of that long fought-for initiative.”
Not only do these fish threaten the $7 billion Great Lakes sport fishery and all the business and real estate values that are attached to it, but their invasion will also render useless our plan to restore the region’s economy. The Brookings Institution found that restoring the Great Lakes would bring the region $2 for every $1 invested in restoration activities. The President’s commitment in his first budget of $475 million put us on track to begin this economic renaissance, but now it is being devoured by the worst possible invasive species.
The lackluster response from the White House and agencies begs the question: will Carpageddon become Obama’s Katrina?