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Guest Blog

Junk science steering Emiquon

Mon, August 04, 2014

By MIKE CONLIN

What happened? 

How could The Nature Conservancy (TNC), with all the good it has done in the past, be duped into thinking that the Illinois River, with all it’s man induced ills, could have anything positive to offer to a pristine clear water marsh? 

Not only will connecting the Illinois River with Emiquon be good for Emiquon, they theorize that Emiquon, with all its present positive attributes, will somehow revitalize the Illinois River at the same time. 

Somewhere along the way, much as a patent medicine salesman hawks his wares, someone sold the TNC a bill of goods.  Reconnecting the river to Emiquon will demonstrate that your organization is on the cutting edge of riverine ecological restoration the huckster shouted, and once convinced, TNC started selling the same yarn to their contributors with deep pockets.

And once that happened, it was too late to turn back – no matter what the public (nearly 1,300 folks have recently signed a petition in opposition) and professional wildlife and fishery biologists with many centuries of experience think … that the Illinois River will bring only death to Emiquon.

Enter the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (COE) and the many millions of dollars they have available in the federal Environmental Management Program. The Corps has said for numerous decades, they only do what Congress tells them. They thus disavow any responsibility for the past havoc they have rained down on riverine ecosystems all over the United States. 

Knowing the Corps responds well to political pressure, TNC (many of whose big time donors also contribute generously to political campaigns) enlisted the support of Senator Richard Durbin. And, as they say, the rest is history. Once Congress got involved, there was no turning back on this ill-conceived reconnection project for the Corps of Engineers either. 

Now TNC, COE, and members of Congress were caught up in the huckster’s web. No way to back out now without losing face. Label the project “riverine restoration based on science,” charge forward, bowl over the opposition and common sense and good science be damned. 

And folks, that is just what is happening today. Although the COE told me 6 weeks ago that they would hold a public meeting on the proposed Emiquon project this summer, I understand that they have decided differently. 

I was told that the Corps now says that the public meeting will be delayed (until sometime in 2015) until after they have determined a FINAL DIRECTION for the proposed project. I have called the COE a number of times to ask for clarification on whether they are determining a FINAL DIRECTION or a PROPOSED FINAL DIRECTION for the project. 

After all, holding a public meeting AFTER they have decided on a FINAL course of action would be inane. So far, the Corps has not even had the courtesy to return any of my phone calls. What does their silence mean? What do you think?

The only governmental agencies standing tall on the TNC/Corps Emiquon proposal to date is the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Natural Resources Conservation Service. These two federal agencies have raised many serious concerns which they have with the project. Oh, don’t look to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources leadership in Springfield for any help, it’s an election year you know. 

Despite the strong recommendations of their wildlife and fisheries biologists to oppose this fatally flawed project, the Illinois DNR Director, Marc Miller,  is in full support.

Don’t like what you have read? Then send your comments (or call with your concerns) to the following people:

Corps of Engineers: 
.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  309-794-5428
.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  309-794-5791

Senator Richard J. Durbin  
312-353-4952 (Chicago office)
202-224-2152 (Washington, D.C. Office)

Comments

When I first learned of this travesty, I thought there is no way anyone can truly think this is a good plan…after reading this I can’t even being to say what I would really like to on a family friendly site.

Posted by G on August 04

Don’t the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have a big enough mess with the Olmsted Locks and Dam?  I think they started work on that in 1997 and a budget of about a billion.  Now I hear it has a completion date of   September 2024 and well over 3 billion.  Look some things they do are of great benefit to us but again sometimes they just don’t get it right.

Posted by bigman on August 05

So long, Emiquon.

Posted by bb5526 on August 05

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