The Louisiana Association of Business and Industry is concerned that a proposed U.S. Army Corps of Engineers plan to control an invasive species of fish in the Great Lakes area could negatively impact Louisiana’s maritime traffic.
The plan—meant to control the spread of Asian Carp, which could harm the Great Lakes’ fishing industry—includes upgrading Illinois’ Brandon Road Lock and Dam on the Des Plaines River.
LABI, however, in a letter released Wednesday, is urging the Corps to consider alternatives to building new structures in the Great Lakes area, saying any disruption to inland waterways systems in Illinois impacts the larger U.S. economy and trading states like Louisiana.
“Our waterways are vital to not only Louisiana companies but to commerce all over the United States. That is why we have to look at the whole picture before we jump in,” LABI President and CEO Stephen Waguespack says in a statement. “To move forward, we must ascertain a full understanding of the costs associated to prevent any unintentional consequences that could permanently hinder commerce across the U.S.”
One in five jobs in Louisiana is connected to the maritime industry, says LABI, citing a 2015 workforce study. The industry also represents $3.5 billion per year in employment income and has an $11 billion economic impact on the state. LABI also notes the Louisiana Maritime Task Force estimates that waterway dependent jobs generate roughly $2 billion in tax revenue.
“Louisiana’s employers, employees and beneficiaries of the state’s maritime industry are asking the USACE to exhaust all non-structural options prior to building new structures,” the association says.