Congresswoman Joins Coalition's Calls For Logical Alternatives to Lock Closure

Jun 03, 2010, 07:00 ET from UnLock Our Jobs

Rep. Debbie Halvorson, UnLock Our Jobs Coalition Push for Rational Approach to Asian Carp

CHICAGO, June 3 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- After a second massive fish kill produced no evidence of Asian carp in the Chicago Area Waterways System (CAWS) upstream of current barriers, Illinois Congresswoman Debbie Halvorson (D-11) and the UnLock Our Jobs coalition, a collection of concerned labor, agriculture, and business representatives will host a press conference tomorrow morning to call for rational, comprehensive solutions to address the issue of invasive species in the region.  

Despite 11,000 fish totaling 100,000 pounds pulled from the river in the $1.4 million taxpayer funded search, no Asian carp were found.  However, some politicians continue to demand emergency closure of the Chicago area locks in an effort to permanently separate the Great Lakes from the Mississippi River corridor.  In response to such economically devastating proposals, Representatives Debbie Halvorson and Danny Davis in a recent letter called upon the Army Corps of Engineers to explore common-sense solutions for addressing Asian carp that protect our jobs and our waterways.

Reaffirming that call, members of the UnLock Our Jobs coalition released the following statements ahead of tomorrow's press conference:

"We can all agree that we must address the problem of Asian carp and the potential for migration into the Great Lakes," stated Mark Biel, executive director of the Chemical Industry Council of Illinois stated.  "We support efforts to keep Asian carp out of the Great Lakes but maintain every alternative - including thermal exclusion zones and additional electric barriers - must be explored and exhausted before the idea of lock closure is considered."

"Put plainly, a permanent shutdown of the waterways is devastating to the agricultural community," continued Jim Robbins of the Illinois Corn Growers Association. "If you take away barge transport, farmers will face additional costs of almost a half billion dollars each year to ship goods using more expensive and higher polluting means of transportation. For many family farms already struggling financially, these massive, additional costs could be the last straw."

Terry Turner, legislative and political director of the Seafarers International Union added, "Repeated, unfounded lock closures make it expensive and difficult - if not impossible - to keep businesses operational and workers employed.  This is bigger than the SIU alone.  It's about maintaining a strong commercial infrastructure so that blue collar workers and union members across the country and every waterways employee who depends on working more than one or two days a week to support their family can do so.  It's time to stop with these costly delays and focus on a truly comprehensive, long-term solution.  It is absolutely within our ability to prevent Asian carp from reproducing in the Great Lakes without bringing the region's economy to its knees."

UnLock Our Jobs aims to protect the uninterrupted operation of the essential waterway connection known as the "Avenue of the Americas".  Members of UnLock Our Jobs represent business, agriculture, labor, river communities and concerned citizens.  The group is dedicated to ensuring the Chicago locks remain open to commerce, thereby protecting thousands of jobs in the Great Lakes region.  

For more information on UnLock Our Jobs goals, actions and resources as well as a full list of current members, please visit

To speak with Mr. Biel, Mr. Robbins, Mr. Turner or any of UnLock Our Jobs' experts, please contact Lisa Burgess at or (202) 257-0983.

SOURCE UnLock Our Jobs