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Supreme Court declines to rule on Asian carp

The US Supreme Court [official website] on Monday declined to grant an injunction, and denied a petition for writ of certiorari [orders list, PDF] in Michigan v. US Army Corp. of Engineers [SCOTUSblog backgrounder]. Five states petitioned the court [JURIST report] in October asking them to overturn a lower court ruling and to require the US Army Corps of Engineers [official websites] to accelerate a study on ecological separation as well as installation of nets to stop the advancement of Asian carp [EPA backgrounder] toward Lake Michigan. The current study on how to keep the invasive Asian carp from crossing between the Great Lakes and the Mississippi river is expected to take five years [Detroit Free Press report]. Some experts have indicated the invasive species could consume enough plankton to disrupt the food chain, damaging the multi-billion dollar fishing industry [AP report]. A spokesperson for the Attorney General of Michigan indicated that they believe the court reached the wrong conclusion [Chicago Tribune report] and that, as a result, the carp could be getting closer to the Great Lakes.

In August, the US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit ruled against [JURIST report] the five states' efforts to stop the Asian carp. The Supreme Court has denied certiorari [AP report] on the issue three times as of April 2010. In December 2009, the state of Michigan filed a lawsuit [JURIST report] in the Supreme Court against the state of Illinois seeking to close the two waterways, as the court has original jurisdiction in disputes between the states. All three times, the court denied certiorari without comment on the dispute. Michigan reopened the longstanding controversy [backgrounder, PDF] over the diversion canal, created in the 1890s to keep Chicago's sewage from flowing into Lake Michigan. The court issued decrees over the canal in 1930, 1933, 1956, 1967 and 1980. The carp have been traveling up the Mississippi and Illinois rivers for years. Tests have showed that the carp may have gotten through an underwater electric barrier and may now be within six miles of Lake Michigan. The fish were originally imported to control algae in fisheries on the Mississippi River, but escaped during a 1990s flood.

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