Michigan AG again pushes for closure of Chicago-area shipping locks

Chris Rizo Feb. 4, 2010, 3:12pm

Mike Cox (R-Mich.)

Lisa Madigan (D-Ill.)

LANSING, Mich. (Legal Newsline)-Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox on Thursday asked the U.S. Supreme Court to reconsider its decision not to close some Chicago-area shipping locks to block Asian carp from migrating into the Great Lakes.

Cox's motion to the nation's highest court follows word from federal officials said DNA from the massive invasive species has been detected in Lake Michigan.

"We think the Court should take another look at our request to hit the pause button on the locks until the entire Great Lakes region is comfortable that an effective plan is in place to stop Asian carp," Cox said.

The Republican attorney general and gubernatorial candidate in his motion to the high court said the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers withheld evidence indicating that carp DNA had been found in Lake Michigan three days prior to the high court's Jan. 19 ruling not to grant his request for an emergency injunction to close the shipping locks.

Cox's push for the locks' closures was opposed by Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan and the White House.

Madigan, a Democrat, was opposed to the closing of the locks, arguing that doing so could harm the Chicago-area economy without guaranteeing that the carp would not reach the Great Lakes.

The Obama administration too said closing the locks would harm the Chicago-area economy and would also compromise public safety by interfering with U.S. Coast Guard activities in the region.

Cox's efforts, however, are backed by the state attorneys general from Wisconsin, Minnesota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York and the Canadian province of Ontario.

The Asian carp, which can weigh hundreds of pounds, have been migrating northward in the Mississippi and Illinois rivers for many, biologists say.

In seeking the injunction to close the locks, Cox reopened a 1966 U.S. Supreme Court case over the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal and the threats plaintiffs say it poses to the Great Lakes.

From Legal Newsline: Reach staff reporter Chris Rizo at chrisrizo@legalnewsline.com.

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