July 23, 2008

Great Lakes Advocates Urge Congress to Act Quickly on Historic Protections for Lakes


Contact: Jeff Skelding, Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition, +1-202-797-6893, [email protected]; Cameron Davis, Alliance for the Great Lakes, +1-312-375-2004, [email protected]; Jordan Lubetkin, Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition, +1-734-887- 7109, [email protected]

ANN ARBOR, Mich., July 23 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ --Advocates for the Great Lakes urged Congress to act quickly on the Great Lakes- St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact, a historic agreement introduced today in the U.S. House and the U.S. Senate to conserve water in Americas largest fresh surface water ecosystem.

This is an important day for the Great Lakes, said Andy Buchsbaum, co-chair of the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition and regional executive director of the National Wildlife Federations Great Lakes office. The Compact would for the first time set the same strong water protections for all the Great Lakes states while protecting them from depletion. To keep the Great Lakes great, it is essential that Congress take up these bills and pass them soon.

U.S. Representatives John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich.), Vernon Ehlers (R-Mich.), Steve LaTourette (R-Ohio) and James Oberstar (D-Minn.) joined U.S. Senators Carl Levin (D-Mich.) and George Voinovich (R- Ohio) to introduce a joint resolution consenting to the Compact.

Co-sponsors in the Senate include Evan Bayh (D-Ind.), Sharrod Brown (D-Ohio), Robert Casey, Jr. (D-Pa.), Hillary Clinton (D- N.Y.), Norm Coleman (R-Minn.), Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), Russell Feingold (D-Wisc.), Herb Kohl (D-Wisc.), Barack Obama (D-Ill.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) and Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.). More original co-sponsors are expected to be added to the list.

Presidential candidates Obama and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) have expressed support for the Compact. Hearings on the House and Senate bills could come as early as next week.

The Compact has been called for by more than a dozen governors from three different political parties since its conceptualization and approved by sixteen state legislative chambers from eight states, said Cameron Davis, co-chair of the Healing Our Waters- Great Lakes Coalition and President/CEO of the Alliance for the Great Lakes. Without the Compact, the Great Lakes are left vulnerable to depletion. We urge Congress to move quickly to approve the Compact to protect this national and international treasure.

The eight Great Lakes states of Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin have enacted the Compact, a regional water agreement that promotes water conservation within the region and protects the lakes from depletion. Congressional consent is required for it to become law, as has been the case with other water compacts around the nation.

The Compact has garnered support from businesses, farmers and conservationists. The regions governors have listed passage of the Compact as one of nine priorities to protect and restore the Great Lakes--along with efforts to halt invasive species, stop sewage contamination and clean up toxic pollution.

The Great Lakes are one of Americas national treasures and one of the natural wonders of the world, said Tom Kiernan, co-chair of the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition and president of the National Parks Conservation Association. We have a responsibility to protect them. Passage of the Compact is essential if we are to restore the Great Lakes and protect our drinking water, economy, National Parks and way of life. The longer we wait, the worse the problems and the more costly the solutions.

The Great Lakes contain over 90 percent of the fresh surface water of the United States. Although seemingly abundant, less than 1 percent of the Great Lakes water is renewed each year, leaving the lakes vulnerable to depletion.

SOURCE Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition

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