Yesterday, a fisherman caught a live Asian carp fish beyond the last barrier in Chicago before Lake Michigan. As anyone could have predicted, the failure to separate the Mississippi system from the Great Lakes is resulting in yet another invasive species catastrophe. I don't think it is too late, even now, but Obama and Illinois do not want to upset Chicago's transportation and logistics sector and dockworkers. This Supreme Court, so willing to take extreme positions like opening the floodgates to corporate bribery of politicians or essentially banning Free Speech if it involves guiding questionable groups back to the mainstream, has been reluctant to approve even a temporary closure of the Chicago locks. It is as pitiful an example of cowardly leadership as I can think of - another slow moving train wreck in action in Michigan, but no one has the will to overcome the inertia.
Now, Obama, the Supreme Court, and Chicago/Illinois may be ready to sacrifice the Great Lakes for a few shipping jobs, but I, and most Michiganians, are not. Still, if they do nothing on their end, our lawmakers appear impotent to do anything...jurisdiction is jurisdiction after all. I think I may have a solution, however. It may be radical, will doubtless be the subject of lawsuits, but it is necessary, and we can do it in cooperation with the Canadians and other Great Lakes States who are on our side.
Here it is: Any ship going to or from Chicago, between the Great Lakes and Mississippi systems, must cross water controlled by either Michigan or its allies or dock in the territory of Michigan and its allies. Ships must either cross choke points at Mackinaw, Detroit, Port Huron, Sault Ste. Marie, or Buffalo or dock in Michigan, Wisconsin, or Indiana. I propose we ban any ship that has passed through Chicago's contaminated waters from passing the choke points controlled by Michigan's allies. I suppose an outright ban may be able to stand on environmental grounds (e.g., the ships may be contaminated with Asian Carp eggs - 10 year study needed to evaluate, and in the meantime there is a ban). Any ship caught in Michigan's waters from Chicago could be seized and destroyed. If an outright ban would be overturned, perhaps a $1 bn per ship penalty for ships coming from Chicago could be enacted. These are drastic measures to be sure, but I think they would quickly end the current Mississippi-Great Lakes ship traffic through Chicago as we know it - shippers would just find alternate routes (or simply offload from Mississippi boats, put on trucks, then put on Great Lakes boats in Chicago). With the paradigm shifted, Chicago would have no reason to keep the systems connected, and hopefully, they would act to permanently separate the systems.
What do you think? If you have a better solution, please share it!
Here are a couple of articles talking about this tragedy:
5 years ago