Supreme Court Kicks Quickly Spreading Asian Carp Off Its Menu

Little matters more to Michigan environmentalists at the moment than stopping the flow of invasive Asian carp entering Lake Michigan. The state has sued, as high up as the Supreme Court, to lock existing waterways from Illinois that feed the lake, and through which the fish have been traveling. State officials fear that if the waterways are kept open, the fish will establish a permanent population that would be almost impossible to exterminate without a host of environmentally havoc-wreaking side effects. But siding with opponents who argue that shutting down waterways would hit shipping companies especially hard, the court earlier today denied Michigan's repeated motion for an injunction while it considers whether to fully review the case (which it may do later this year, if at all).

The issue is a hairy one for the Supreme Court. The problem posed by an invasive species decimating the Lake Michigan ecosystem has no immediately identifiable victim. It's also an issue of interstate commerce, which conservative-leaning justices often prefer to leave to the states. The Obama administration could also take action to order closure of the locks, but has so far passed to the courts. Meanwhile, the Army Corps of Engineers has said it will continue to investigate and will decide in late April whether to close the locks, and how to do it strategically.

Politics, by nature, works slowly. But for now, the rapid reproductive rate of the carp seems squarely at odds with the pace of Washington.

Interested in other invasive species? Visit our gallery here.