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News Release

July 23, 2008

 

SENS. LEVIN, VOINOVICH UNVEIL GREAT LAKES COMPACT BILL

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Senators Carl Levin (D-MI) and George V. Voinovich (R-OH) – co-chairs of the Senate Great Lakes Task Force – today introduced legislation to ratify the Great Lakes Compact, a bipartisan agreement among the Great Lakes states to protect the Great Lakes through better water management, conservation and public involvement. The legislation is the next step towards the Great Lakes—St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact becoming law because it must be ratified by Congress.

“The Great Lakes are a tremendous natural resource for Michigan and throughout the Great Lakes basin,” said Sen. Levin. “A great deal of progress has been made towards safeguarding the Great Lakes from exports and diversions, and the Great Lakes Compact will build on the existing protections.”

“We have made great progress in cleaning up and protecting the lakes and we must continue that progress,” Sen. Voinovich said. “Preserving the Great Lakes is not only necessary to protect one of our nation’s greatest natural resources – it’s also necessary to help Ohio’s hurting economy. The best way we can do that is by passing and enacting the Great Lakes Compact and keeping control of the lakes in the hands of the states that surround them and value them the most.”

In 2000, Congress passed legislation directing the Great Lakes Governors to negotiate a water management agreement. In 2005, the Great Lakes Governors, in coordination with the Canadian Premiers of Ontario and Quebec, completed negotiations of the eight-state Great Lakes—St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact. The Council of Great Lakes Governors was tasked with creating the Great Lakes Compact and is a partnership of the governors of the eight Great Lakes states – Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin – and the Canadian provincial premiers of Ontario and Quebec.

The Compact, which will manage water diversions, withdrawals and consumptive use proposals, has been approved by the eight state legislatures and must be consented to by Congress to achieve full force and effect as an interstate compact.

The Compact includes the following points:

· A general ban on new diversions of water from the Basin, but limited exceptions could be allowed in communities near the Basin when rigorous standards are met;
· Economic development will be fostered through sustainable use and responsible management of Basin waters;
· Communities that apply for an exception will have a clear, predictable decision making process; standards to be met; and opportunities to appeal decisions. These processes and standards do not exist under current law;
· The states will use a consistent standard to review proposed uses of Basin water. The states will have flexibility regarding their water management programs and how to apply this standard;
· Regional goals and objectives for water conservation and efficiency will be developed and they will be reviewed every five years. Each state will develop and implement a consistent water conservation and efficiency program that may be voluntary or mandatory.

“We must always recognize that we are only temporary stewards of the Great Lakes and continue working to keep pace with the needs of the lakes in order to protect and restore them for future generations,” Sen. Levin said.

“This is the most comprehensive management strategy I have seen in the four decades I have spent working to restore and protect the Great Lakes,” Sen. Voinovich said.

Additional cosponsors of this joint resolution include Sens. Bayh, Brown, Casey, Clinton, Coleman, Durbin, Feingold, Klobuchar, Kohl, Lugar, Obama, Stabenow, Schumer, and Specter. Companion legislation will be introduced in the House of Representatives.

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