Pawlenty will skip White House carp conference

Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty is skipping a White House summit on the Great Lakes Asian carp situation Monday because of a "previously scheduled commitment."...

Tim Pawlenty
Tim Pawlenty

Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty is skipping a White House summit on the Great Lakes Asian carp situation Monday because of a "previously scheduled commitment."

Pawlenty will deliver the opening address Monday at the Emerging Issues Forum in Raleigh, N.C., according to his office.

The Obama administration called the conference with governors of the eight Great Lakes states last week to discuss the looming danger that giant, leaping carp native to Asia will spread out of the Illinois River system in Chicago and invade Lake Michigan.

There are signs that invasion already may have occurred, and natural resource officials in the states are urging swift action to forestall what could be a major disruption of the native food chain in the Great Lakes.

Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle, Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm and Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn, all Democrats, have said they will attend the White House conference.


Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, also a Democrat, will not attend the summit, saying he must give a budget speech. It's not clear whether other governors will attend.

Pawlenty is a Republican eyeing a 2012 presidential bid against Obama.

The governors will meet with Nancy Sutley, chairwoman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, and other administration officials from the Environmental Protection Agency, Department of the Interior, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and U.S. Coast Guard.

Brian McClung, Pawlenty's deputy chief of staff, said the White House will follow the meeting with governors with a second teleconference with state staffers.

"Our office is participating in that discussion," McClung said in an e-mail to the News Tribune.

McClung added that the Pawlenty administration is working with other states to stop the spread of Asian carp into Minnesota. "Minnesota worked with Illinois to provide chemicals to help stop carp from traveling into new waters. Governor Pawlenty is hopeful that by working together we will be able to tackle this potentially harmful issue," he said.

Some natural resource and environmental groups say state and federal agencies around the lakes should declare a state of emergency and spare no expense to stop the carp to save Great Lakes recreational and commercial fishing.

The invading carp can grow to more than 100 pounds and are known to outmuscle native fish and eat half their weight in food out of the ecosystem every day.


While Asian carp may seem like just the latest in a never-ending string of exotic species poised to invade the Great Lakes, they would certainly be the most obvious: a fat fish known to leap 8 feet into the air when disturbed by passing boats. They've wreaked havoc for 20 years on parts of the Mississippi River after first escaping from fish farms where they were imported to clean ponds of algae.

John Myers reports on the outdoors, natural resources and the environment for the Duluth News Tribune. You can reach him at
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