[Date Prev][Date Next][Date Index]

GLIN==> Fwd: News Release

>Citizens' Environment Alliance
>News Release
>> 11/1/99
>> Ten Reasons Why We Think The IJC will close its Regional Office in Windsor
>> The Parties (the federal governments of Canada and the U.S.)  to the Great
>> Lakes Water Quality Agreement  (GLWQA) are currently conducting "a
>> comprehensive review of the operation and effectiveness" of the Agreement.
>> This includes the Great Lakes Regional Office (GLRO) in Windsor, Ontario.
>> GLRO was set up in 1972 to provide administrative and technical support to
>> advisory Boards appointed by the International Joint Commission (IJC).
>> Boards assist the Commission in exercising its powers and responsibilities
>> assigned to it under the GLWQA.
>> Over the last ten years, the role of the IJC in the Great Lakes has
>> The capacity of the Commission as a leader in Great Lakes restoration and
>> protection efforts has diminished and so has the effectiveness of the
>> who advise the Commission.  Because GLRO was established to serve the IJC’s
>> Boards, the basis for continuing its operation is questionable. 
>> Below are ten reasons why we believe the IJC intends to close the GLRO:
>> 1. A Shift in Focus Away from the Great Lakes.
>> Over the last three years more time and effort of the IJC is being expended
>> on non-Great Lakes activities. The Commission has shifted its primary focus
>> away from the Great Lakes watershed, which is the largest of the boundary
>> waters comprising 95% of the freshwater supply of Canada and the U.S., and
>> toward other boundary watersheds. The Great Lakes is now only one boundary
>> watershed of roughly 10 and, as a result, now only receives about 10% of
>> Commission's attention. The IJC's reputation in settling disputes in these
>> other river and lake systems has been, historically, very solid. Many other
>> areas of the U.S.-Canada border welcome the IJC's continued and expanded
>> involvement.  However, with the expansion of the Commission's
involvement in
>> non-Great Lakes boundary waters and its level or eroding budget, there is a
>> resultant de-emphasis of the Great Lakes.  The IJC's international
>> reputation, founded on the Great Lakes, is now being lost."
>> 2. A Loss of Scientists from the Regional Office.  
>> Since the signing of the 1987 Protocol, the number of Regional Office staff
>> scientists with Ph.Ds. has declined from 8 to the current number of 2. This
>> ‘brain drain’ of Great Lakes scientists has resulted in less educated, less
>> experienced generalists with limited capability. Analytical reviews of data
>> and comprehensive reporting have ceased to be a function of the Regional
>> Office. 
>> 3. A Smaller, Aging and Indifferent Regional Office staff.
>> Through hiring practices and attrition, the Regional Office scientific and
>> technical support staff has been significantly reduced to its lowest

>level in
>> more than 20 years. 1992 was the last time someone was hired to fill a
>> scientific position at the Regional Office, with that position being
>> in 1995 and no replacement hired since. Rather than utilizing the remaining
>> staff, the workload is routinely accomplished through temporary hires and
>> short-term contracts to consultants who typically lack relevant knowledge
>> and, more importantly, commitment to the issues. 
>> 4. A Decline in Assessing and Evaluating Great Lakes Data.  
>> The Regional Office has all but lost the ability to assess and track
>> in Great Lakes water quality, including the amounts of pollutants that are
>> discharged to the Great Lakes.  Following the signing of the 1987 Protocol,
>> the IJC committee structure that ensured that this activity was performed
>> eliminated and never replaced.  The result is that the role of the IJC
>> serving as the Great Lakes “watchdog” to monitor and evaluate water quality
>> trends has been severely reduced.  Now this task is left to various
>> government agencies, which rely on the discharging industry’s self-reported
>> information.
>> 5. Abandonment of Principals.
>> Two of the biggest accomplishments for the IJC in the last 25 years have
>> the reversal of eutrophication in the Great Lakes and the advancement of
>> ecosystem approach in addressing environmental issues.  The Regional Office
>> is now systematically nullifying both.  The signs of eutrophication are
>> coming back in all of the lakes and in Lake Erie, fishing interests are
>> calling for the addition of phosphorus to the lake.  After years of being
>> champion for nutrient control, the Commission no longer has the technical
>> expertise or the political will to continue in this role.  The current
>> at the Regional Office has actively sabotaged the ecosystem approach at
>> international conferences and in print.  The Regional Office is now
>> transforming the IJC into a ‘single issue’ focus on persistent toxic
>> substances. 
>> 6. A Breach in Public Trust.
>> When the IJC chose to close their world-renowned library in 1992 and
have it
>> moved to the University of Windsor, they pledged to ensure that the library
>> would be maintained and functional for the IJC Regional Office staff as
>> as for the public.  The fact that this once unique library, now referred to
>> as the ‘Great Lakes Collection’, has never been properly catalogued under
>> University’s system or shelved in any meaningful way renders it virtually
>> useless to everyone. The historic as well as current Great Lakes
>> this specialized library once held at the IJC Regional Office was, without
>> doubt, among the greatest assets of the Great Lakes region.  The closing of
>> the library and failure to keep a public promise sends a disturbing message
>> about the value of the scientific information collected on the Great Lakes
>> and the ability to access it. 
>> 7. Bureaucratic Decisions Overshadowing Practical Solutions
>> For the last seven years, the Regional Office has cited rising costs and
>> increased expenses for maintaining a riverfront, downtown Windsor office to

>> justify many decisions.  This rationale was used for closing the library,
>> hiring staff, restricting travel, etc.  However, when the University of
>> Windsor’s Great Lakes Institute for Environmental Research  (GLIER) was
>> looking to lease a significant portion of their newly acquired London Life
>> Building to the IJC (resulting in more space for less money than the IJC
>> currently enjoyed), the IJC refused to re-locate. Only bureaucratic reasons
>> were cited to explain why they could not leave their high-priced location,
>> but their decision to stay also made a statement about the importance of
>> science and knowledge by not relocating at GLIER. 
>> 8. Ineffective RAP and LAMP Involvement
>> Since 1992, the IJC’s input to the Remedial Action Plans (RAP) and Lake
>> Management Plans (LaMP) process has been value subtracted. The RAP reviews
>> conducted prior to 1992 utilized unpaid peer reviewers from government,
>> industry, NGOs, and universities, who contributed their time and effort to
>> move the process forward.  Those reviews had scientific credibility and
>> stand on the merit of a broad peer review process. Now, the "Status
>> Assessments" are conducted by a few “hired guns” that merely parrot the
>> assessment that IJC bureaucrats have privately concluded. These assessments
>> are void of any scientific data review or analysis and filled with vague
>> policy statements that are either inaccurate or not properly verified.  The
>> result is an alienation of everyone in this value-subtracted exercise.
>> 9. FOCUS Newsletter Downsized and Trivialized
>> The IJC’s FOCUS newsletter was once an important communication mechanism
>> a circulation of over 3000 throughout the Great Lakes basin. It was printed
>> six times yearly and was often sixteen to twenty pages in length. It
>> contained articles, news, schedules of meetings and profiles of
>> and other key decision-makers in the Great Lakes watershed. FOCUS was often
>> used as the major route to publicize significant accomplishments by the
>> Boards such as the Area of Concern De-listing Criteria. Now, FOCUS is not
>> much more than a “circular” printed on one piece of paper and totally
>> redundant with other information already available. 
>> 10. Continued Budget Reductions
>> Over the last five years the Great Lakes Regional Office Budget has been
>> continually reduced by both federal governments of Canada and the US,
>> resulting in a significant loss of effectiveness.  The top officials within
>> both federal governments have noticed the loss of IJC relevancy and
>> credibility in the Great Lakes, and responded with decreased budgets. Over
>> the same period, many agencies have experienced budget fluctuations, but
>> changes in the Regional Office’s budget have repeatedly been downward.
>> As part of the review of the GLWQA, concerned citizens deserve to know the
>> IJC's position on the future of the GLRO.
>> For further information contact:
>> Mary Ginnebaugh, (920) 469-5830 (Green Bay Wisc)
>> Dr. David Dolan, email: doland@uwgb.edu (920-469-5830)

>> Rick Coronado CEA 519-973-1116 (Windsor) 
>GreenPlanet Social Justice & Ecology Network
>315 Pelissier Street, PO Box 548, Windsor ON  Canada,  N9A 6M6
>Voice:  519-973-8352 Fax 519-973-8360
>E-mail:  riccawu@mnsi.net  
>web page: http://www.mnsi.net/~cea
GreenPlanet Social Justice & Ecology Network
315 Pelissier Street, PO Box 548, Windsor ON  Canada,  N9A 6M6
Voice:  519-973-8352 Fax 519-973-8360
E-mail:  riccawu@mnsi.net  
web page: http://www.mnsi.net/~cea

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
glin-announce is hosted by the Great Lakes Information Network:
To search the glin-announce archives:
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *