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E-M:/ NWF on Great Lakes Proprosal

Enviro-Mich message from "Alex J. Sagady & Associates" <ajs@sagady.com>

Media Advisory


Contact: Brenda Box, (703) 790-4089
Becky Lentz (734) 769-3351


One Small Step for people and wildlife

Michigan Governor John Engler plans to release a proposal that would, among 
other things, keep Great Lakes waters in the Great Lakes. It would require 
those who would withdraw Great Lakes water to prove that their proposal 
will create a net benefit to the Great Lakes ecosystem. While the proposal 
is a good start, it suffers from severe flaws.

Tim Eder, Director, NWF's Great Lakes Natural Resource Center and James 
Goodheart, Executive Director of the Michigan United Conservation Clubs, 
Inc. will be available to comment on the proposal in a telephone press 
briefing Monday, June 19, at 1:00 PM EDT. Space is limited. To participate 
in the briefing, contact Brenda Box: (703) 790-4089, box@nwf.org, or Becky 
Lentz: (734) 769-3351, lentz@nwf.org.

Tim Eder can be reached at 734-769-3351,
Jim Goodheart can be reached at 517-371-1041

Hold For Release: Contact: NEWSBecky Lentz, (734) 769-3351
10 A.M. EST June 19, 2000 Brenda Box,703) 790-4089
Jim Goodheart (517) 371-1041

Multi-State "Agreement" on Great Lakes
a Step Forward, But Has Flaws

ANN ARBOR, MI -- A purported "agreement in principal" for governing the 
withdrawal of water from the Great Lakes falls short of its 
well-intentioned purpose of protecting the Lakes, according to the nation's 
largest conservation group. The National Wildlife Federation (NWF) says the 
draft document, released today by Michigan Governor John Engler, needs more 
specific safeguards to keep the world's greatest supply of fresh water from 
being depleted by bordering states and provinces or diverted beyond even 
the U.S. and Canada.

"Governor Engler is offering a good start, and he is to be commended for 
his leadership in making this draft plan public - but it is only a start," 
said Tim Eder, director of NWF's Great Lakes office. "Other states and 
provinces need to insist that the final plan ensure that Great Lakes water 
is used wisely in this region so we can be sure it won't be wasted by the 
rest of the world."

"As written, the draft could well allow our water to be exchanged for 
ill-defined 'benefits' without proving first that a new withdrawal or 
diversion is even needed.

We know Michigan doesn't want to put the Great Lakes up for grabs to the 
highest bidder so they need to fix this plan," added Eder. "The standard 
put forth in the draft plan for evaluating proposals to withdraw or divert 
water should require that any applicant must first prove they have used 
water conservation practices to their fullest extent, and that they have 
exhausted all possible alternatives to withdrawing additional Great Lakes 
water. Only then should the plan discuss compensation and benefits."

The resolution released by Governor Engler includes language requiring 
those who would withdraw Great Lakes water to prove that their proposal, 
together with compensation measures, would "create a net benefit to the 
Great Lakes ecosystem." But the idea of a net benefit is not based on 
specific goals or measurable benchmarks. And the draft plan fails to stress 
the fact that the Great Lakes can be harmed by water use from within the 
region as well as by diversions to far off places.
"The first duty is to protect the health of the Lakes * and with it the 
people and wildlife that depend on them * and that means using common sense 
water conservation measures, " said Jim Goodheart, executive director of 
the Michigan United Conservation Clubs, NWF's largest state affiliate. 
Goodheart added, "we can't expect others to conserve our resource if we 
don't do it ourselves."

In fact, under the U.S. Constitution and global trade agreements, rules 
governing the sale of Great Lakes water outside the Great Lakes region can 
be no more stringent than those applied within it. That makes a multi-state 
plan without regional conservation measures all but useless.

"The Governor's plan is like going straight to the dessert bar without 
eating our vegetables first," said Eder. "Just like eating right, applying 
conservation principles to water uses here at home will help build a 
healthier, stronger system."
Once local water use is addressed, the plan's provisions for long-distance 
diversions can also be beefed up. "A key premise of the Governor's plan 
should be to keep Great Lakes water where it belongs - here in the Great 
Lakes region," said Goodheart. "The goal must be to prevent any new or 
increased diversions that would harm the ecosystem except in the most rare 
of circumstances, and when no possible alternative exists.

Just like medical doctors, our credo should be 'first do no harm.'"

NWF and MUCC agreed that the idea of not allowing any new withdrawals that 
don't result in an "improvement" to the resource is a laudable concept, if 
it is prefaced with conservation and prevention first. "We look forward to 
working with Michigan and the other states and Ontario to help define 
improvement and to help set benchmarks for restoring and protecting vital 
freshwater resources. Governor Engler has done us a service by opening the 
dialogue and we look forward to working with him and his fellow Governors 
and Premiers to refine this draft," said Eder.

The nation's largest member-supported conservation advocacy and education 
group, the National Wildlife Federation unites people from all walks of 
life to protect nature, wildlife, and the world we all share. The 
Federation has educated and inspired families to uphold America's 
conservation tradition since 1936. NWF's Great Lakes office has been a key 
player in protection of the Lakes from pollution, over-development and 
water withdrawals.

MUCC is the NWF's largest state affiliate with over 100,000 individual 
members and 500 affiliated clubs. MUCC is committed to the conservation and 
enhancement of Michigan's natural resources through education, advocacy and 
promotion of quality outdoor recreation experiences. Recognized as the 
voice of Michigan's sportsmen and women, MUCC advocates for common-sense, 
scientifically based policy decisions regarding our natural resources.

Becky Lentz, Outreach Manager
National Wildlife Federation
Great Lakes Natural Resource Center
506 E. Liberty Street, 2nd Floor
Ann Arbor, MI 48104-2210
ph 734/769-3351 fx 734/769-1449

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