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Enviro-Mich message from GreenPlanet <riccawu@mnsi.net>

> News Release
> 11/1/99
> Ten Reasons Why We Think The IJC will close its Regional Office in Windsor
> The Parties (the federal governments of Canada and the U.S.)  to the Great
> Lakes Water Quality Agreement  (GLWQA) are currently conducting "a
> comprehensive review of the operation and effectiveness" of the Agreement.
> This includes the Great Lakes Regional Office (GLRO) in Windsor, Ontario.
> GLRO was set up in 1972 to provide administrative and technical support to
> advisory Boards appointed by the International Joint Commission (IJC). These
> Boards assist the Commission in exercising its powers and responsibilities
> assigned to it under the GLWQA.
> Over the last ten years, the role of the IJC in the Great Lakes has changed.
> The capacity of the Commission as a leader in Great Lakes restoration and
> protection efforts has diminished and so has the effectiveness of the
> who advise the Commission.  Because GLRO was established to serve the IJC’s
> Boards, the basis for continuing its operation is questionable. 
> Below are ten reasons why we believe the IJC intends to close the GLRO:
> 1. A Shift in Focus Away from the Great Lakes.
> Over the last three years more time and effort of the IJC is being expended
> on non-Great Lakes activities. The Commission has shifted its primary focus
> away from the Great Lakes watershed, which is the largest of the boundary
> waters comprising 95% of the freshwater supply of Canada and the U.S., and
> toward other boundary watersheds. The Great Lakes is now only one boundary
> watershed of roughly 10 and, as a result, now only receives about 10% of the
> Commission's attention. The IJC's reputation in settling disputes in these
> other river and lake systems has been, historically, very solid. Many other
> areas of the U.S.-Canada border welcome the IJC's continued and expanded
> involvement.  However, with the expansion of the Commission's involvement in
> non-Great Lakes boundary waters and its level or eroding budget, there is a
> resultant de-emphasis of the Great Lakes.  The IJC's international
> reputation, founded on the Great Lakes, is now being lost."
> 2. A Loss of Scientists from the Regional Office.  
> Since the signing of the 1987 Protocol, the number of Regional Office staff
> scientists with Ph.Ds. has declined from 8 to the current number of 2. This
> ‘brain drain’ of Great Lakes scientists has resulted in less educated, less
> experienced generalists with limited capability. Analytical reviews of data
> and comprehensive reporting have ceased to be a function of the Regional
> Office. 
> 3. A Smaller, Aging and Indifferent Regional Office staff.
> Through hiring practices and attrition, the Regional Office scientific and
> technical support staff has been significantly reduced to its lowest
level in
> more than 20 years. 1992 was the last time someone was hired to fill a
> scientific position at the Regional Office, with that position being vacated
> in 1995 and no replacement hired since. Rather than utilizing the remaining
> staff, the workload is routinely accomplished through temporary hires and
> short-term contracts to consultants who typically lack relevant knowledge
> and, more importantly, commitment to the issues. 
> 4. A Decline in Assessing and Evaluating Great Lakes Data.  
> The Regional Office has all but lost the ability to assess and track changes
> in Great Lakes water quality, including the amounts of pollutants that are
> discharged to the Great Lakes.  Following the signing of the 1987 Protocol,
> the IJC committee structure that ensured that this activity was performed
> eliminated and never replaced.  The result is that the role of the IJC
> serving as the Great Lakes “watchdog” to monitor and evaluate water quality
> trends has been severely reduced.  Now this task is left to various
> government agencies, which rely on the discharging industry’s self-reported
> information.
> 5. Abandonment of Principals.
> Two of the biggest accomplishments for the IJC in the last 25 years have
> the reversal of eutrophication in the Great Lakes and the advancement of the
> ecosystem approach in addressing environmental issues.  The Regional Office
> is now systematically nullifying both.  The signs of eutrophication are
> coming back in all of the lakes and in Lake Erie, fishing interests are
> calling for the addition of phosphorus to the lake.  After years of being
> champion for nutrient control, the Commission no longer has the technical
> expertise or the political will to continue in this role.  The current staff
> at the Regional Office has actively sabotaged the ecosystem approach at
> international conferences and in print.  The Regional Office is now
> transforming the IJC into a ‘single issue’ focus on persistent toxic
> substances. 
> 6. A Breach in Public Trust.
> When the IJC chose to close their world-renowned library in 1992 and have it
> moved to the University of Windsor, they pledged to ensure that the library
> would be maintained and functional for the IJC Regional Office staff as well
> as for the public.  The fact that this once unique library, now referred to
> as the ‘Great Lakes Collection’, has never been properly catalogued under
> University’s system or shelved in any meaningful way renders it virtually
> useless to everyone. The historic as well as current Great Lakes information
> this specialized library once held at the IJC Regional Office was, without
> doubt, among the greatest assets of the Great Lakes region.  The closing of
> the library and failure to keep a public promise sends a disturbing message
> about the value of the scientific information collected on the Great Lakes
> and the ability to access it. 
> 7. Bureaucratic Decisions Overshadowing Practical Solutions
> For the last seven years, the Regional Office has cited rising costs and
> increased expenses for maintaining a riverfront, downtown Windsor office to
> justify many decisions.  This rationale was used for closing the library,
> hiring staff, restricting travel, etc.  However, when the University of
> Windsor’s Great Lakes Institute for Environmental Research  (GLIER) was
> looking to lease a significant portion of their newly acquired London Life
> Building to the IJC (resulting in more space for less money than the IJC
> currently enjoyed), the IJC refused to re-locate. Only bureaucratic reasons
> were cited to explain why they could not leave their high-priced location,
> but their decision to stay also made a statement about the importance of
> science and knowledge by not relocating at GLIER. 
> 8. Ineffective RAP and LAMP Involvement
> Since 1992, the IJC’s input to the Remedial Action Plans (RAP) and Lake Wide
> Management Plans (LaMP) process has been value subtracted. The RAP reviews
> conducted prior to 1992 utilized unpaid peer reviewers from government,
> industry, NGOs, and universities, who contributed their time and effort to
> move the process forward.  Those reviews had scientific credibility and
> stand on the merit of a broad peer review process. Now, the "Status
> Assessments" are conducted by a few “hired guns” that merely parrot the
> assessment that IJC bureaucrats have privately concluded. These assessments
> are void of any scientific data review or analysis and filled with vague
> policy statements that are either inaccurate or not properly verified.  The
> result is an alienation of everyone in this value-subtracted exercise.
> 9. FOCUS Newsletter Downsized and Trivialized
> The IJC’s FOCUS newsletter was once an important communication mechanism
> a circulation of over 3000 throughout the Great Lakes basin. It was printed
> six times yearly and was often sixteen to twenty pages in length. It
> contained articles, news, schedules of meetings and profiles of
> and other key decision-makers in the Great Lakes watershed. FOCUS was often
> used as the major route to publicize significant accomplishments by the
> Boards such as the Area of Concern De-listing Criteria. Now, FOCUS is not
> much more than a “circular” printed on one piece of paper and totally
> redundant with other information already available. 
> 10. Continued Budget Reductions
> Over the last five years the Great Lakes Regional Office Budget has been
> continually reduced by both federal governments of Canada and the US,
> resulting in a significant loss of effectiveness.  The top officials within
> both federal governments have noticed the loss of IJC relevancy and
> credibility in the Great Lakes, and responded with decreased budgets. Over
> the same period, many agencies have experienced budget fluctuations, but the
> changes in the Regional Office’s budget have repeatedly been downward.
> As part of the review of the GLWQA, concerned citizens deserve to know the
> IJC's position on the future of the GLRO.
> For further information contact:
> Mary Ginnebaugh, (920) 469-5830 (Green Bay Wisc)
> Dr. David Dolan, email: doland@uwgb.edu (920-469-5830)
> Rick Coronado CEA 519-973-1116 (Windsor) 

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