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At first it was one state fighting neighbor Illinois over a possible Asian carp invasion. Now it’s at least five. Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox, who is seeking to become governor of the state, launched the legal effort last month to stop Asian carp from reaching the Great Lakes and disrupting his state’s fishing industry. Since then four other states, all of which border at least one Great Lake, have joined in Michigan’s litigation. In a Dec. 2 letter to Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn, Cox urged Quinn to take action to block the carps’ migration from the Mississippi River across Illinois to Lake Michigan. A bare 19 days later, Cox petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to force action. Cox’s office said it acted when it didn’t hear back from Quinn. Minnesota, New York, Ohio and Wisconsin have filed supporting motions in the litigation against Illinois, the City of Chicago and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, citing the “threat of irreparable injury” if the carp reach Lake Michigan and beyond. They’re asking the Supreme Court to force the defendants to “permanently and physically” barricade the carp and seeking a preliminary injunction to make that happen. Eight states border the Great Lakes. Nick De Leeuw, a spokesman for Cox’s office, said the office has been in touch with all the other states. Indiana has said it will file an amicus brief supporting Michigan’s case. Michigan’s 34-page petition values the Great Lakes fishing industry at as much as $7 billion. Some 800,000 Michigan jobs alone could be affected if the carp spread into the Great Lakes, said De Leeuw. Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, who hasn’t made a public comment on the issue, plans to file a response to the litigation on Tuesday, said Robyn Ziegler, a spokeswoman for her office. Quinn’s office said it’s reviewing the matter and trying to balance ecological and economic interests. The silver and bighead carp, initially imported into the United States to control algae and treat wastewater, have proliferated and spread rapidly, the petition said. Already they’re hurting the native fish populations in the Mississippi River Basin by eating into the food supply. The petition seeks a supplemental decree in a century-old Supreme Court ruling over the early 1900s construction of the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal, which links Lake Michigan to the Mississippi through rivers and waterways. The canal reversed the flow of the Chicago River to take the city’s waste downstream instead of into Lake Michigan. Over the decades, a number of disputes have been settled under the ruling.

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