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TEACH: Great Lakes Law & Policy

5 | Binational Agreements and Treaties: continued

The Ecosystem Charter for the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Basin, 1994 is a good faith agreement between Great Lakes organizations that promotes an ecosystem approach to management, recognizing that the goals for environmental protection and economic development within the basin are linked and interdependent. The Charter ties a common thread through the many policies, laws and agreements in the basin, and explicitly defines objectives for an ecosystem approach to management.

Air pollution. Click for larger image. The U.S. and Canadian governments signed the Air Quality Agreement to address shared concerns regarding transboundary air pollution. Air pollution, like water, knows no borders, and the agreement was made in hopes of protecting the health of citizens and ecosystems on both sides of the border. The agreement lists specific goals for each of the countries concerning emissions limitations for certain toxic chemicals and transportation vehicles.

In response to the dangers of persistent toxic substances, the Great Lakes Binational Toxics Strategy was developed jointly by Canada and the United States in 1997. The strategy provides a framework for actions to rid the Great Lakes basin of persistent toxic substances, especially those that bioaccumulate, such as DDT, PCBs, mercury and dioxins. Focusing on pollution prevention in all sectors of government, from local to regional to state/provincial/tribal and to the international sectors, the strategy hopes to deal with the problem of interbasin transfers of toxic substances from one lake to another.

The Great Lakes Charter is a good faith agreement between the Great Lakes governors and premiers to work together in preserving the integrity of the Great Lakes. Some of the goals of the charter include preserving the water levels and flows of the Great Lakes, protecting the Great Lakes basin ecosystem, and providing a secure foundation for future investment and development within the region. The charter promotes standardized data collection procedures across the Great Lakes states and provinces and consultation on a regular basis on the issues of water use, conservation and development.

Graphic: Power plant air pollution on Lake Michigan.

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