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Klobuchar, Franken among senators asking Trump to release Asian carp project

Fish and Wildlife Service officer Heidi Kueller dodges flying carp during the Asian Carp assessment on the Illinois River in this Fish and Wildlife Service photo.

A dozen Great Lakes states senators have sent a letter to Trump administration officials urging them to move ahead with a plan to stop Asian carp from entering the Great Lakes by stopping them at a Chicago-area lock and dam.

The carp project, which was supposed to be outlined in a February study released by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, was held back by the Trump administration at the last minute with no set date for release.

Three species of carp, imported from Asia, have moved up the Mississippi River after escaping from fish farms during floods. They have moved up the Mississippi and its tributaries, overwhelming local waterways and crowding-out native fish.

While they probably couldn't thrive in the open waters of the Great Lakes, they would likely do well in estuaries, bays and harbors — warmer and more fertile waters.

The study was supposed to outline a plan to stop the migration at the Brandon Road Lock and Dam, a crucial chokepoint near Joliet, Ill., in the Chicago waterway system.

"We request the administration release the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' draft proposal to prevent Asian carp from reaching and severely harming the Great Lakes," the senators wrote to both Trump and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney. "We are concerned by what we understand to be a White House decision to delay and potentially modify this report that has been under development for years. When taken together with the proposal to eliminate all funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative in the fiscal year 2018 budget, delaying the release of this plan to address Asian carp only raises further questions about the administration's commitment to protecting our Great Lakes."

The letter was signed by Democratic U.S. Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken of Minnesota, Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters of Michigan, Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth of Illinois, Sherrod Brown of Ohio, Joe Donnelly of Indiana, Kirsten Gillibrand and Chuck Schumer of New York and Bob Casey of Pennsylvania.

The senators also asked the administration for a timeline on when the project might move ahead.