Press Release: Coalition Applauds Federal Judge’s Decision to Keep Chicago Locks Open, Decision denies requests to cutoff interstate commerce

SPRINGFIELD, IL – Today, Judge Robert M. Dow of the U.S. District Court in Chicago ruled that the Chicago locks will remain open in the case filed against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in early July by several Midwest states seeking immediate action to separate the lakes from the Chicago Area Waterway System (CAWS). The judge’s ruling means that the locks – through which more than $29 billion worth of commodities travel annually – will remain open and operating as usual.

“In the litigation against the Army Corps, the Great Lakes Attorneys General failed to produce any evidence to support their claim that continued operation of the locks poses a public nuisance,” said David Rieser, the lead attorney for the Coalition to Save Our Waterways and Partner, McGuire Woods LLC.

“The states’ case depended entirely on unproven eDNA testing methods and the discovery of a single fish in Lake Calumet, likely transported by humans.  Ultimately, Judge Dow recognized that fear and speculation were not enough to justify the economic impacts that lock closure would have inflicted on the region.”

“This lawsuit has been a distraction from the goal we are all ultimately trying to reach – a comprehensive solution to dealing with increased populations of Asian carp,” announced Mark Biel, the president of the UnLock Our Jobs Coalition. “Spending precious time and money on legal action is diverting resources from control and research efforts.”

Biel continued, “During the last seven months, the Great Lakes states have targeted Chicago because of the man-made locks in our city. The reality is that there are dozens of natural channels through which Asian carp could migrate making this is a serious regional problem. All five states and 18 locations listed in the Army Corps’ Other Pathways Inventory are on the front lines. We must examine these pathways and then act strategically to design an economically feasible solution. It’s time for everyone to realize that the Asian carp, not Chicago, are the enemy.”

UnLock Our Jobs is a coalition of agriculture, business, labor, river communities, and concerned citizens working towards a comprehensive solution to stop the spread of Asian carp, while leaving the Chicago locks open to commerce. As chair, Mark Biel works with organizations across the Mississippi Valley and Great Lakes to protect waterway commerce and prevent the spread of Asian carp into the Great Lakes.

To speak with David Rieser, Mark Biel or other UnLock Our Jobs experts, please contact Lisa Burgess at lisa@unlockourjobs.org or (202) 257-0983.

UnLock Our Jobs is a coalition dedicated to protecting the essential waterway connection between the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River corridor. A project of the Chemical Industry Council of Illinois, coalition members represent agriculture, business, labor, river communities, and concerned citizens working towards a comprehensive solution to stop the spread of Asian Carp, while leaving the Chicago locks open to commerce.

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