John Sellek is the director of communications at the Michigan Office of the Attorney General. Portions of a recent interview covering the issue of Asian carp litigation going through Chicago's federal court are shown below.
Q: Could you give me some background information on the lawsuit going on concerning Asian carp?
A: “We currently have a lawsuit before the federal court based in Chicago. We requested a preliminary injunction demanding an immediate decision regarding (closing the canal), but the judge ruled against us … However, the case is still before that court … We’re determining if we should file an appeal on the preliminary injunction.”
Q: Why did they reject the preliminary injunction?
A: “(The judge) didn’t see an immediate enough threat to the Great Lakes to make the changes we’re requesting ... However, experts have repeatedly found DNA evidence of Asian carp before and after the electronic barrier. A live Asian carp was found beyond the barrier in the mouth of Lake Michigan … in our opinion, those efforts have not been effective enough so far … our goal is to close that opening into Lake Michigan – it’s basically an Asian carp entryway.”
Q: Why is Chicago opposed to closing the locks? Do their arguments hold weight against that of Michigan and the other states on the other side of the issue?
“In general, (Chicago) tried to argue current efforts are effective – but evidence keeps piling up that (the electric barrier) is not foolproof … They argue they’ll suffer economic damage in the tour boat industry and businesses like that. Nobody wants to see anybody lose a job anywhere, but we’ve got a lot more at stake than a few tourist boats … the impact on Chicago to make any kind of changes we are asking for is relatively small, but the sheer number of billions of dollars Michigan and Great Lakes states would lose is incomprehensible.”
Q: Do you think the legislation’s slow-moving pace could be too slow, and that the Asian carp might get into the lakes before a decision is reached, or that they might be in the lakes already?
A: “That’s the scary part, because if they are in, we don’t know how to stop them right now and they could grow unchecked … the court case is necessary, because the people who can stop the carp, the Army Corps of Engineers and President Obama, have refused to take us seriously … they could render the whole lawsuit moot by simply closing the locks and helping Chicago move business away from that location … Nobody wants to damage Chicago’s interest, but what Michigan and other states have to do is protect their interests. We are the caretakers of (the) Great Lakes – it is or job and our duty to take this fight to the very end and … stop carp from leaking into Lake Michigan and beyond.”