Zoeller calls for special master in carp case

Chris Rizo Feb. 19, 2010, 4:51pm

Greg Zoeller (R-Ind.)

Mike Cox (R-Mich.)

INDIANAPOLIS (Legal Newsline)-Joining the multistate legal fight over closing Chicago-area shipping locks, Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller on Friday filed an amicus brief in the case, urging the U.S. Supreme Court to appoint a special master to oversee the case.

Zoeller, a Republican, is asking that a special master "devise a comprehensive remedy" to prevent the massive Asian carp from damaging the Great Lakes.

"Today Indiana asked the United States Supreme Court to appoint a special master to hear evidence and devise a solution to balance the critical economic impacts against the ecological risks of Asian carp, and not to leave these important state interests solely to be decided by the federal government in Washington," Zoeller said. "Everyone agrees that if Asian carp reach Lake Michigan, they could have a very damaging impact on the Great Lakes ecosystem and the sport fishing industry. It's very important that Indiana be heard before the U.S. Supreme Court."

Zoeller's filing backs the lawsuit filed by Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox, who wants the shipping locks closed to prevent the invasive bighead and silver carp, which have been migrating northward in the Mississippi and Illinois rivers, from invading the Great Lakes.

"The brief I filed today sides with Michigan and against the federal government in urging the United States Supreme Court to reopen the original case so that each of the states' interests can be resolved," Zoeller said.

Cox's push to close the shipping locks has been opposed by Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan and the White House.

Madigan has said that doing so could harm the Chicago-area economy without guaranteeing that the carp would not reach the Great Lakes, while the Obama administration has argued that the closures would compromise public safety by interfering with U.S. Coast Guard activities in the region.

In seeking an earlier 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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