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E-M:/ Annex Bottled Water Loophole

Enviro-Mich message from "Adam Reames" <AReames@senate.michigan.gov>

September 23, 2005					

Tom Lenard

Senate Democrats Call on Great Lakes States to Close Loophole for Bottled Water Diversion

LANSING- Democratic State Senators Liz Brater (D-Ann Arbor) and Ray Basham (D-Taylor) called on the Council of Great Lakes Governors today to close a loophole in the 2001 Annex that would allow bottled water companies to divert resources from the region. The annex is an agreement among eight Governors and two Canadian premiers to protect Great Lakes resources.

The Democratic members of the Senate Natural Resources committee wrote to the Council expressing their concern over a provision in the agreement that would exclude "water captured in containers up to 5.7 gallons from being treated as a diversion." Democrats also plan to introduce a Senate resolution next week calling for the closure of the loophole.

"Since there are already provisions in the agreement for short-term emergency and humanitarian purposes, there is no reason to include further exemptions for the bottled water industry," wrote Brater. "The Great Lakes are a natural wonder and economic engine, and we must protect them by strengthening the annex and closing this loophole."

The letter comes on the heels of a speech last week by former Republican Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Newt Gingrich (R-Georgia) in which he commented that Michigan was "out of touch" with our efforts to protect water resources. News outlets reported that the Chamber of Commerce members in attendance laughed and applauded at Gingrich's remarks.

"Republicans like Newt Gingrich may take water diversion lightly, but Democrats sure don't think it is a laughing matter," said Basham. "Governor Granholm and Democrats in the Legislature are committed to protecting our natural resources and closing this loophole is a good first step."

In addition to their efforts to strengthen the 2001 Annex agreement, Democrats have offered legislation, The Water Legacy Act, which would solidify the state's role in determining the nature and size of permissible water withdrawals. The legislation was introduced for the first time several years ago and reintroduced in January of this year, but has yet to be considered by the Republican-controlled legislature.


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