Asian Carp and the Great Lakes: When is Irreparable Harm 'Likely' and 'Imminent' Enough - And What Science Do You Trust to Tell You?
Robin Kundis Craig
University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law
December 11, 2010
FSU College of Law, Public Law Research Paper No. 476
On December 2, 2010, in Michigan v. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. District Judge Robert Dow of the Northern District of Illinois refused to shut down two shipping locks in the Chicago Area Waterway System (CAWS) to prevent Asian carp from reaching Lake Michigan. This very short article reviews the Northern District of Illinois's decision, focusing on Judge Dow's assessment of whether an ecologically and economically disruptive Asian carp invasion of Lake Michigan is either "likely" or "imminent."
The decision that it was not turned in many ways on the limits of the relatively new technique of environmental DNA, or "eDNA," testing, which can tell researchers little more than that some Asian carp have made it past the electric barriers designed to keep them out of Lake Michigan. Thus, from one perspective, this decision was a rather routine application of the three-part federal test for a preliminary injunction in a case with significant uncertainties, both scientific and legal. Simultaneously, however, the decision underscores how the American legal system impedes the implementation of truly precautionary measures that would promote ecological sustainability in large aquatic ecosystems, especially in the face of far more immediate and countervailing economic and public safety impairments.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 7
Keywords: Asian Carp, Lake Michigan, Invasive Species, Precautionary Approach, Sustainable, Great Lakes
Date posted: December 12, 2010