Friday, April 23, 2010

Asian Carp litigation: expect news on Monday


The U.S.A. Supreme Court decides today whether to reopen the original case and decree concerning the Chicago Ship and Sanitary Canal (Wisconsin et al. v. Illinois et al.).

Usually, orders from Friday are released on Monday. The Court's decision will shape further actions in the Asian Carp crisis, and hopefully the Great Lakes Law Blog will provide legal insights into what can be expected in the near future.

An article by Gabriel Nelson in the New York Times informs that more litigation before lower State or Federal Courts will follow if the Supreme Court declines to reopen the case. According to the article, one potential plaintiff could be Canada.

It would be surprising to see Canada enter the fray in this file, as Ontario has been the point authority in charge since the beginning of the Asian Carp crisis on the Canadian side: Ontario is the only Canadian stakeholder to have filed a memorandum before the Supreme Court, and bilateral federal/provincial agreements with the federal government of Canada might indicate that Ontario could take responsibility in Great Lakes management matters.

In any case, these potential developments might answer the question raised by this older post on the potential use of the recourse provided under Section 7.3 of the 2008 Great Lakes Compact by one of the Canadian Provinces.

While a refusal to reopen the original case and decree might induce significant delays potentially disastrous for the Great Lakes ecosystem, it might also rebalance the 13 December 2005 Great Lakes-St Lawrence River Basin Sustainable Water Resources Agreement which, from an institutional perspective, is tilted in favour of American interest due to U.S.A. Supreme Court original jurisdiction.

If the Court declines jurisdiction, it could be argued that the potential for federal judicial interference decreases, thereby putting the riparian States and Provinces on a more equal footing and more firmly in charge of their basin.

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