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E-M:/ Great Lakes News: Congress Passes Historic Great Lakes Protection



For Immediate Release

September 23, 2008

 

Congress Passes Historic Great Lakes Protection

With passage of the Great Lakes compact by the House, the only step remaining is the signature of the U.S. President

 

Earlier today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the historic Great Lakes Compact, ensuring the strongest protections ever to stop water diversions and to regulate large-scale water use. The final step is for President Bush to sign the Compact, as he has already pledged to do.

 

“The Great Lakes are a region of incredible beauty, but also tremendous fragility. Passage today shows that the Great Lakes are at the front of the minds of legislators across the United States, and that they are ready to act to protect this ecosystem,” said Derek Stack, Executive Director of Great Lakes United.

 

“Seven years ago, citizens from across the region demanded that their leaders shut the tap to large-scale diversion of Great Lakes water,” said John Jackson, Director of Clean Production and Toxics at Great Lakes United. “After painstaking work between eight states, two provinces and countless citizens and stakeholders, we have the laws that will protect these precious waters for generations to come.”

 

The Compact, formally known as the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact, stems from a binational Agreement of the same name forged between the eight Great Lakes states, Ontario, and Quebec. The Agreement promises strong water conservation standards across the region and a set of rules that will prevent harm to the environment when local business and governments use water. Great Lakes citizens and environmental groups will have to be actively engaged to ensure that these new standards and rules live up to the promises made by Ontario, Quebec and the states in their international Agreement, and now, pending President Bush’s signature, U.S. federal law.

 

“In the coming world where water is more valuable than oil, forward-looking agreements like this compact are indispensable for protecting the economic livelihood and environmental health of a region like the Great Lakes,” said Reg Gilbert, formerly Director of Sustainable Waters for Great Lakes United, who led much of the coalition’s work on the Agreement and Compact. “Passing the U.S. Compact is an absolutely critical step, but our collective work has just begun. The states and provinces still must implement the Agreement and Compact and bridge substantial differences to assure that the waters of our region benefit our great grandchildren.

 

The legislation was prompted when, in 1998, the province of Ontario approved a proposal to take water from Lake Superior for the purpose of shipping it to Asia in a tanker. The action outraged citizens across the region and highlighted the need for strong protections for Great Lakes water. As policymakers grappled with just what a new binational agreement would look like, Great Lakes United served on the Advisory Team to the Agreement and led public engagement to build consensus on critical and fundamental positions, such as how to define the Great Lakes ecosystem and consider groundwater in this landmark international agreement.

 

For more information:

Derek Stack, Executive Director 613-797-9532

John Jackson, Director of Clean Production and Toxics 519-744-7503

Reg Gilbert, 716-883-5504

 

 

____________________________________

Brent Gibson

Director, Communications

(613) 867-9861

bgibson@glu.org | www.glu.org

 

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