Advance Notice: Briefs

Illinois gov. OKs Asian carp barrier launch, but urges cost drop

By: - April 29, 2019 4:30 pm

Asian carp | U.S. Fish and Wildlife photo, Wikimedia Commons

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker has consented to the early phases of a barrier project meant to keep invasive Asian carp from entering Lake Michigan, but he warned that he could not support the full plan unless it’s cheaper.

J.B. Prtizker

Pritzker wrote in a letter to U.S. Army Corps of Engineer Col. Steven Sattinger on Friday that he “generally support[s]” the plan to build an electric, sound and “bubble” barrier at the Brandon Road lock, between Chicago River from the Great Lakes.

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said in a tweet Friday that she applauds the Illinois governor “for taking decisive action … to protect our Great Lakes from Asian carp.”

Pritzker repeated concerns in his letter, however, that the $778 million cost estimate for the project is too high, and said Illinois “is not in a financial position to commit to the full plan in its current form.”

He wrote that he’s “committed to protecting Lake Michigan and making the State of Illinois more resilient to a variety of threats, including Asian carp, climate change, flooding, and the risks posed by outdated infrastructure.”

But Pritzker urged the army corps to work to find “a solution that benefits everyone at the table.”

The Alliance for the Great Lakes praised the letter in a statement.

“It formally kicks off the process to establish Illinois as the non-federal sponsor for the critical work needed at the Brandon Road Lock and Dam,” said the group’s vice president for policy, Molly Flanagan. “This is an important step forward in efforts to keep Asian carp from reaching Lake Michigan.”

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Michael Gerstein
Michael Gerstein

Michael Gerstein is a former Advance reporter covering the Governor's office, criminal justice and the environment.