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E-M:/ governor's press release on great lakes water withdrawals



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Enviro-Mich message from Dave Dempsey <davemec@voyager.net>
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After several postings yesterday about the environmental community's
response to a proposed interstate agreement on water withdrawals, it seems
helpful to read the Governor's statement announcing that agreement.

For Immediate Release Contact: John Truscott (517) 335-6397

June 19, 2000


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Governor Engler Announces New Standard for Protection of Great Lakes

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Governor John Engler announced in Alpena, Michigan, today that the Great
Lakes Governors and Premiers have reached an "agreement in principle" on a
new standard to be used in determining the merit of any future proposal to
withdraw waters from the Great Lakes.

"At a time when concerns over low lake levels are at an all-time high, this
agreement reassures our citizens that Great Lakes leaders have lake
management and protection at the top of their agenda," Engler said.

Under the agreement, the governors and premiers will jointly agree that no
new or increased withdrawals of water will be allowed from the Great Lakes
Basin unless the proponent of the withdrawal can meet all of the following
conditions:

There must be an improvement to the waters and water-dependent natural
resources of the Great Lakes Basin. This means that the individual,
cumulative, immediate and long-term adverse impacts of the withdrawal are
outweighed by the beneficial, restorative impacts and associated
enhancement measures; 
The withdrawal, individually or cumulatively, must not cause significant
adverse impact to the quantity or quality of the Great Lakes Basin waters
and resources dependent upon them; 
The proponent of the project must implement all reasonable and appropriate
water conservation measures; and 
The project must comply with all other applicable laws. 
The new conservation-based standard is designed to withstand constitutional
and trade law challenges if governors and premiers disapprove withdrawals
because it is based on a scientific, resource-based rationale. Legal
experts have warned that it is illegal to ban, outright, the export of
Great Lakes water out of the basin because such a law would violate
international trade law, treaties, and the Commerce Clause in the U.S.
Constitution.

"I believe this agreement fulfills a goal I set in April 1999 when I wrote
my Great Lakes colleagues and the Premiers of Ontario and Quebec about
serious threats to our control of the waters of the Great Lakes," Engler
said. "The agreement establishes a common standard which will guide our
stewardship of these priceless resources in the next millennium, while
assuring improvement and continued benefits to the Great Lakes ecosystem."

In 1991, Governor Engler became the only Great Lakes governor to veto a
diversion of Great Lakes water sought by another state. The resulting
agreement, Engler said, will keep decision-making in the basin and prevent
federalization of the Great Lakes. The next step will be to incorporate the
agreement into the Great Lakes Charter as Annex 2000. The agreement is
expected to be signed at the Council of Great Lakes Governors' September
meeting.

"Reaching a consensus to manage the waters of the Great Lakes on the basis
of actually improving these resources— not presiding over their gradual
degradation—meets the challenge of a growing, thriving society seeking to
reconcile conservation and economic growth," the Governor said. "In the
future, water projects will be approved only if they do more good than harm." 

 


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