Time to Celebrate: All Eight Great Lakes States Pass Compact

Time to Celebrate: All Eight Great Lakes States Pass Compact

On July 9, 2008, Governor Jennifer Granholm signed Michigan’s legislation ratifying an interstate Compact that will create unprecedented protections for the Great Lakes–St. Lawrence River Basin.

The Great Lakes represent one of the most magnificent natural wonders in the nation, if not the world, but are vulnerable to withdrawals. With this signing, the eight Great Lakes States of Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin have now completed ratification of the Compact. The compact is just two steps from becoming law. The Senate approved the legislation on Friday, August 1. Now it just needs to pass the House and then be signed by the President.

The Great Lakes Compact will ban far off diversions of Great Lakes water and set responsible standards for water use inside the region. Water conservation requirements outlined in the compact will provide a strong legal defense to withdrawal proposals that could endanger the lakes’ ecology and threaten our economic lifeblood.

The Great Lakes Compact and Agreement are the result of over four years of negotiations between the eight Great Lakes Governors and Premiers of Ontario and Quebec with the input of a 39-member advisory panel and thousands of citizens. This is a milestone for the Great Lakes. To celebrate, we’ve gathered the opinions of environmental leaders in the eight Great Lakes states to comment on the passage of the compact in their state and overall.

“The recent passage in all eight Great Lakes states is an inspiring testament to the power of individuals, groups, resource managers and policy makers working together. Through this victory the resounding message has been heard: we need to protect the waters of the Great Lakes. This effort shows us that together we can accomplish great things for our Great Lakes!” Jill Ryan, Executive Director, Freshwater Future.

New York
“This is groundbreaking legislation. Not only will the Compact protect invaluable public resources like Lakes Ontario and Erie and the St. Lawrence River, it sets the stage for better water management principles, laws and regulations statewide. Environmental organizations and concerned New Yorkers worked together with legislators to get the Compact passed. Now we’re moving forward together to ensure that Congress ratifies it, too.” Katherine Nadeau, Environmental Advocates of New York

“The Michigan environmental community came together and worked tirelessly to overcome numerous challenges in this fight. The result demonstrates how much Michigan cares about Great Lakes’ waters, and protecting them for future generations. The new laws are not only groundbreaking, they also add to a long tradition of locally managing the Great Lakes. This is a very positive step forward.” Grenetta Thomassey,Tip of The Mitt Watershed Council

“It was quite exciting to have Governor Ed Rendell sign the Great Lakes Compact on July 4th, one day after passing the Senate. As in the other states, it was a joint effort on the part of environmentalist, legislators and business to get the job done. Management of our waters is essential for tourism, recreation and economy having two state parks in our 63 miles of shoreline.” Tom Fuhrman, Lake Erie Region Conservancy

“The Compact is an essential tool that will help protect these invaluable lakes for future generations to enjoy. It represents a carefully constructed compromise that won support fromnearly 95 percent of the 1300 Great Lakes state legislators who voted on the measure. Wisconsin and the rest of the Great Lakes states should be proud of the agreement. ” Melissa Malott, Clean Wisconsin

“Minnesota is proud to have been the first state to pass the Great Lakes Compact. Although Minnesota has less shoreline than some other states in the region, as the headwaters of the Great Lakes,we fully understand the importance of working together regionally on this and other resource issues. The Compact is an example of the kind of success we can achieve together, and we look forward to continuing to work with our member groups and our allies tomove the Compact through Congress.” Julie O’Leary, Minnesota Environmental Partnership

“Illinois was proud to become the second state to ratify the Great Lakes Compact.More than six million Illinois residents, about half of the state’s residents, receive their water supply from Lake Michigan. The Compact will allow us to secure and protect this tremendous natural resource for the people who depend on it today and for those who will need it in the future.” Jonathan Goldman, Illinois Environmental Council and Illinois Environmental Council Education Fund

“The shallowest,warmest,and most biologically productive of all the Great Lakes, Lake Erie is arguably Ohio’s greatest natural resource. However, receiving roughly 80%of its water from upper Great Lakes makes Lake Erie vulnerable to water use by these areas. Dedicated tourism, environmental-conservation, and boating groups; citizens; businesses, and the Ohio DNR can feel proud of their key role in helping secure the Compact’s ratification in Ohio, setting the stage for protecting Great Lakes from depleting for generations to come.” Kristy Meyer,The Ohio Environmental Council

“We were so pleasantly surprised by the rapid action in Indiana once elected officials understood the need for these protections.We give a lot of credit to all the individuals and organizations that came together from the business, industry and environment communities.There has never been an environmental issue so widely supported in the history of Indiana.”Tom Anderson, Executive Director, Save the Dunes Council.




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Images courtesy of Steven Huyser-Honig,
West Grand Boulevard Collaborative, & Yellow Dog Watershed Preserve.