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GLIN==> Minnesota Becomes First State to Adopt Great Lakes Compact.



News Release

For Immediate Release	
February 12, 2007

Contact: 	Julie O'Leary, Minnesota Environmental Partnership, 218.727.0800;
Martha Brand, Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy, 651.223.5969;
Molly Flanagan, National Wildlife Federation, 614.582.6392 (cell); 
Cathy Kennedy, MEP, 612.309.3951 (cell)

Minnesota Becomes First State to Pass Great Lakes Compact


Saint Paul - Today, Minnesota took an historic step towards protecting the Great Lakes when the State Senate gave initial approval to the Great Lakes and Saint Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact (HF110/SF 38).  The bill should be officially transmitted to the Governor on Thursday, who is expected to sign it.  

"The Compact guarantees the long-term protection and sound management of Great Lakes water. It ensures that the water will be available for the people and wildlife that depend on it and it will remain protected for generations to come," said State Representative Tom Huntley (DFL-Duluth), chief sponsor in the House and immediate past Chair of the Great Lakes Commission.

The Great Lakes hold 18 percent of the world's fresh surface water, but only one percent of the water in the Lakes is renewed each year, leaving them vulnerable to depletion and degradation. 

"Lake Superior's North Shore is home for 150,000 Minnesotans, a destination for millions of people annually, and part of the foundation for Minnesota's economy," said Martha Brand, executive director of the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy.  "While it may seem limitless and invulnerable, the health of Lake Superior cannot be taken for granted," she added.

"With Minnesota at the headwaters of the Great Lakes, it is appropriate that we are the first to endorse the Compact," added Julie O'Leary, Northeast Minnesota program coordinator for Minnesota Environmental Partnership (MEP), the statewide coalition of more than 80 conservation and environmental organizations. "Now we call on each of the Great Lakes states to join us in protecting our water."

 
When implemented, the Compact will:
*	Set environmental standards for managing new or increased water withdrawal proposals;
*	Prohibit water diversions out of the basin, with limited exceptions;
*	Establish protection for all the waters of the Great Lakes Basin, including tributary streams, rivers, and groundwater;
*	Direct each state to establish water conservation programs;
*	Establish public participation opportunities; and
*	Preserve the rights of states to enact stronger protections.

The Compact is the culmination of a multi-year process of negotiations among the eight Great Lakes States and two Canadian Provinces. In order to take effect, the Compact must be adopted by all eight Great Lakes States, and consented to by the U.S. Congress.  Each Great Lakes state is expected to introduce legislation before the year ends to endorse the Compact.  The Council of Great Lakes Governors endorsed the Compact in December 2005.

"This Compact will allow the Great Lakes region to maintain control of its waters as demand continues to grow throughout the nation and worldwide," said Molly Flanagan, Great Lakes Water Resources Program Manager at the National Wildlife Federation.  "Passing the Compact is critical to protecting Lake Superior and all the Great Lakes.  We hope that governors and legislatures in the other Great Lakes states will follow Minnesota's lead and make adoption of the Compact a top priority," she added.

The Minnesota House passed the Compact on February 1, 2007 by a vote of 97 to 35.  

The Great Lakes Compact is one of the MEP Protect Minnesota's Great Outdoors legislative priorities.  More information is available at www.ProtectOurGreatOutdoors.org.  

###


Molly M. Flanagan
National Wildlife Federation 
Great Lakes Natural Resource Center
213 West Liberty Street, Suite 200
Ann Arbor, Michigan 48104
Phone: 734-769-3351  |  Fax: 734-769-1449 
flanaganm@nwf.org
http://www.nwf.org

NWF's mission is to inspire Americans to protect wildlife for our children's future. 

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