Michigan’s business and political leaders gathered this weekend for the annual conclave on Mackinac Island.
A group representing U.S. governors and Canadian premiers in the Great Lakes region has agreed to cooperate on promoting trade and maritime commerce.
Flashpoint 6/2/13: Devin Scillian sits down with political leaders at Mackinac Island.
The Council of Great Lakes Governors adopted a series of resolutions Saturday on Mackinac Island during its first summit meeting since 2005. Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder said he hopes the governors will begin meeting more regularly to make sure their plans lead to action.
One resolution says that regulatory hurdles, aging infrastructure and low water levels are preventing the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River from meeting their potential as commercial corridors. It establishes a task force with members from the eight states and two Canadian provinces in the region to make improvements.
It also urges both federal governments to fund the lakes as a single system.
Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn says he's was willing to consider placing barriers in Chicago-area waterways to keep Asian carp from reaching the Great Lakes.
Meeting with fellow governors from Great Lakes states, Quinn said separating the lakes from the Mississippi River watershed is the "ultimate solution" to prevent migration of Asian carp and other invasive species between the two systems.
The Democratic governor's statement on Michigan's Mackinac Island represents a potential breakthrough in a longstanding dispute between Great Lakes states. Illinois and Indiana have resisted re-engineering Chicago's network of rivers and canals, saying it would disrupt commerce and cause flooding.
Michigan and four other states unsuccessfully sued Chicago over the issue. Scientists say if Asian carp reach the lakes, they could threaten native species and the region's fishing industry.
U.S. Representative Candice Miller responded to the notion by say, "I applaud Illinois Governor Pat Quinn on his statements supporting the action needed to rework the Chicago area locks and waterways system, and ultimately separate the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River. I and many others have been suggesting this type of action for decades. It is very encouraging to hear this type of support and I applaud Gov. Quinn, and I also agree with him that this type of endeavor would be a project of national significance and the associated expenses should be viewed as such. I look forward to this renewed dialogue and action to solve this detrimental problem posed by the Asian carp and other invasive species which threatens the Great Lakes and our surrounding states."