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

Enviro-Mich message from Great Lakes United <glu@glu.org>

Dear Craig and other interested parties --

This is a response to a previous post from Craig Harris, but I have written 
it to interest anyone concerned  with export, diversion, and other abuses 
of Great Lakes water quantities.

First, to answer Craig's question, there are a number of ways that a 
proposed withdrawal of water could be determined to meet, or fail to meet, 
Gov. Engler's proposed standards or whatever standards the governors and 
premiers ultimately agree on. The system implicit in the governor's 
proposed "Annex 2000" amendment to the Great Lakes Charter would involve 
specific agreements by the collective of eight states and two provinces 
that are then passed as legislation and regulations in each state and 
province, with individual permitting decisions made in the jurisdiction in 
which they are proposed. The governor has proposed that the specific 
agreements be binding, which is difficult but not impossible among states 
(a congressionally sanctioned interstate compact is probably the best way 
to achieve it), and very difficult and perhaps impossible among the 
combination of states and provinces (it may be that provinces can be 
brought into a U.S. interstate compact, but whether or not either federal 
government will oppose this on general princiles is not yet known).

Of course, a great deal of backsliding can occur anywhere in the three 
stages of this effort -- 1) actual signed agreement among the governors and 
premiers, planned according to Gov. Engler to take place in September, 2) 
implementing legislation, 3) adminstration of permits pursuant to the 
legislation. The agreement could end up hopelessly weak, the implementing 
legislation could be untrue to the agreement, or the permit issuers could 
interpet the legislation with such poor faith as to make it useless. 
Nonetheless, without underestimating the ability of government officials, 
especially executive politicians, to act foolishly, it is important to 
remember that this is not your typical environmental good guys versus 
special interest polluters type of issue. The consensus of opinion among 
the legal advisors to virtually all basin government entities is that 
without a basinwide, environmentally protective system for administering 
water use, the basin is open to water-related meddling in the medium and 
long term both by other U.S. states (due to the power of the U.S. 
Constitution's commerce clause) and by other countries (due to NAFTA, the 
World Trade Organization's current General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, 
and the WTO's likely future agreement on trade in services). Given this 
consensus analysis, it would be rather pointless to go through a long-term 
charade on water permitting that is protective only on the surface. If 
appearances were all that mattered, the states and provinces could pass 
showy export bans and be done with it. The states and provinces know they 
have to do something serious. That said, the executives of the states and 
provinces hope to disturb their existing water permitting arrangements as 
little as possible, and will be calculating to the end exactly how close to 
the border of ineffective protection they can sail without crossing over 
into commerce clause and trade agreement vulnerability.

In sum, we stand at a rare moment of government policy formation that will 
have very significant long-term consequences.

I think the task of environmentalists at this point is twofold.

First, the Great Lakes environmental community needs to get organized. We 
need to be broadly educated on water use issues, have a pretty detailed 
proposal for what the states and provinces should do, and have general 
agreement on that detailed proposal among most of the basin environmental 
community. Just by great conincidence, such a proposal is in the works. 
Great Lakes United, the Canadian Environmental Law Association, the 
National Wildlife Federation's Ann Arbor office, a Quebec group called 
Strategies St. Laurent, and the Lake Michigan Federation have collectively 
drafted an "Ecosystem Agenda for Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River Water 
Use Management" that we hope to release for detailed comment to the general 
basin environmental community very soon. After receiving comment, we want 
to redraft the document and ask for the widest sign on possible. The title 
of the document may make it sound hopelessly policy wonkish, but at least 
some of us who worked on it were surprised at how much water use policy 
affected other basin environmental issues, from habitat protection and fish 
reproduction  to various kinds of resource extraction and geenral water 
quality -- and how little environmental policy work had been done on an 
issue so fundamental to environmental protection as the standards for 
permitting water use.

Second, we need to assure that any agreements on water use between the 
states and provinces are strong. This means substantial improvement in the 
draft text released by Michigan (the governor's office can fax you the text 
-- 517-335-6397). See a Great Lakes United I posted this morning for a 
quick outline of needed improvements in the Michigan proposal. Improving 
the Michigan text will not be easy. Michigan is probably the most 
forward-looking jurisdiction in the Great Lakes basin on this general 
issue, despite its tie with Ontario for environmental worst offender in 
virtually every other area of Great Lakes environmental protection. This 
means that the ongoing negotiations with the other states and provinces 
over the Michigan proposal (notwithstanding Engler's claim of having 
secured "agreement in principle" among the jurisdictions) would normally 
tend to degrade the text as currently proposed. However, this does not have 
to be the case if environmentalists organize in each jurisdiction, because 
the weight of public opinion is heavily on the side of strong protective 
action AND we have some heavyweights, such as Michigan and perhaps 
Pennsylvania, who are probably determined to prevent fatal stalling (Ohio 
is probably the bad guy here, with Quebec a wildcard because its government 
views everything through the prism of its independence agenda). The strong 
popular feeling about export supported by the ongoing drought gives 
environmentalist critics of individual state and provincial foot-draggers a 
lot of power and we should use it. Unfortunately, there is little funding 
for this work, and finding even one part-time person to work on this issue 
in every state and province will not be easy

I have written this email to help stimulate discussion and involvement in 
this issue by the widest possible range of interested parties. Please send 
me responses or comments personally if you do not think them appropriate 
for the list.

Reg Gilbert
Senior Coordinator
Great Lakes UNited

>From: "Harris, Craig" <Craig.Harris@ssc.msu.edu>
>To: enviro-mich@great-lakes.net, "'Dave Dempsey'" <davemec@voyager.net>
>Subject: E-M:/ RE: / governor's press release on great lakes water withdrawals
>Date: Tue, 20 Jun 2000 10:15:03 -0400
>Enviro-Mich message from "Harris, Craig" <Craig.Harris@ssc.msu.edu>
>a question for dave or anyone else --
>do we have any clear understanding of how it would be determined whether a
>proposed "withdrawal can meet all of the following conditions" . . . i
>believe that in the past this determination was made by each governor and
>premier; unanimous consent was required for a withdrawal . . . is this
>arrangement to be continued
>craig k harris
>dept of sociology
>429b berkey hall
>michigan state university
>east lansing  michigan  48824-1111
>tel: 517-355-5048
>fax: 517-432-2856
> > ----------
> > From:         Dave Dempsey[SMTP:davemec@voyager.net]
> > Reply To:     Dave Dempsey
> > Sent:         Tuesday 20 June 2000 10:11 AM
> > To:   enviro-mich@great-lakes.net
> > Subject:      E-M:/ governor's press release on great lakes water
> > withdrawals
> >
> > -------------------------------------------------------------------------
> > Enviro-Mich message from Dave Dempsey <davemec@voyager.net>
> > -------------------------------------------------------------------------
> >
> > 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
> >
> >
> > --------------------------------------------------------------------------
> > --
> > ----
> >
> > Governor Engler Announces New Standard for Protection of Great Lakes
> >
> > --------------------------------------------------------------------------
> > --
> > ----
> >
> > 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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> > and Conservation Issues and Michigan-based Citizen Action.   Archives at
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> >
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> > enviro-mich"
> > ==============================================================
> >
>ENVIRO-MICH:  Internet List and Forum for Michigan Environmental
>and Conservation Issues and Michigan-based Citizen Action.   Archives at
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and Conservation Issues and Michigan-based Citizen Action.   Archives at

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