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Great Lakes Commission says "no" to water export

Eight-state organization sets regional policy at 1998 Annual Meeting

Great Lakes Commission says “no” to water export

ANN ARBOR, Mich.—The eight Great Lakes states, acting through the Great
Lakes Commission, have formed a united front to oppose the withdrawal of
Great Lakes water for overseas export.  This policy position, adopted
unanimously by Commission delegates, came at the organization’s 1998
Annual Meeting in Buffalo, N.Y., on Oct. 19-20.  More than 140 U.S. and
Canadian Great Lakes leaders from the public, private and citizen
sectors convened to address and act on an array of regional
environmental protection, resource management, communications,
transportation and economic development issues.

 The Great Lakes Commission is supporting the Ontario government in its
efforts to uphold a decision to cancel a water withdrawal permit granted
earlier this year to a Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, company.  The
company's plan to market Lake Superior water for overseas export
prompted an outcry from the Commission and other regional interests, all
citing prospective environmental implications and the dangerous legal
precedent such a permit might set.  The Commission has received
“participant” status from the Ontario Environmental Appeal Board and
will testify at hearings to begin Dec. 7.

 “The Great Lakes Commission has an obligation under state and federal
law to ensure that the region’s most precious resource is protected for
the benefit of this and future generations,” said Dr. Michael J.
Donahue, executive director of the Commission.  “We wholeheartedly
support cancellation of the water withdrawal permit.  Overseas water
export is tantamount to draining the lifeblood of this region.
Sanctioning such a practice would set a dangerous legal precedent, run
counter to the spirit of existing binational agreements, and open the
door to adverse environmental impacts that we can only begin to fathom.”

 In other action, the Great Lakes Commission agreed to

-- Solicit member state views on a controversial directional drilling
proposal to access oil and gas reserves under the Great Lakes;

-- Investigate the need for “no-discharge” zones in portions of the
Great Lakes where waste discharges from vessels are currently allowed if
approved marine sanitation devices are on board;

-- Call for greater involvement by the Great Lakes Commission and other
interstate organizations when the President’s Clean Water Action Plan is

-- Oppose the President’s proposed Harbor Services User Fee and Harbor
Services Fund, which would disadvantage deep draft commercial navigation
on the Great Lakes; and

-- Initiate more than a dozen major new projects — all state and federal
partnerships — in areas such as the control of aquatic nuisance species,
water and air quality improvements, and cleanup and redevelopment of
brownfields and other contaminated areas.

 The Commission membership also elected new leaders for the coming
year.  Irene Brooks, executive director of Pennsylvania’s Office of
River Basin Cooperation, will chair the organization for the next year.
Nathaniel E. Robinson, administrator of the Division of Energy and
Intergovernmental Relations in Wisconsin’s Department of Administration,
will serve as vice chair.

For more information on Great Lakes Commission policies and projects,
visit our web site at http://www.glc.org.

# # #

 The Great Lakes Commission is a nonpartisan, interstate compact agency
created by state and federal law and dedicated to promoting a strong
economy, clean environment and high quality of life for residents of the
eight-state Great Lakes region (Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota,
New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin). The     Commission consists
of state legislators, agency officials and governors’ appointees from
its member states, and also maintains a formal Observer program
involving U.S. and Canadian federal and provincial agencies, tribal
authorities, binational agencies and other regional interests. The
Commission offices are located in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Contact:  Michael J. Donahue
Phone:  734-665-9135
Fax:  734-665-4370
Email:  mdonahue@glc.org