Friday, January 27th, 2023
Friday, January 27th, 2023

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Great Lakes Compact gets Senate OK; House up next

Washington (AP) – The Senate voted last Friday to ratify a
compact to prevent the diversion of water from the Great Lakes,
quickly approving legislation sought by the region’s governors
worried that thirsty places would covet one of the world’s largest
sources of fresh water.

The Senate passed the measure without objection, and it now
awaits action in the House. President Bush has said he will sign it
into law, and both major presidential candidates, Democrat Barack
Obama and Republican John McCain, have said they support it.

“Senate passage of this compact will help us protect the Great
Lakes from water diversions and preserve this invaluable resource
for future generations,” said Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., the bill’s
chief sponsor.

The agreement, negotiated by eight Great Lakes states, including
Minnesota, prevents countries or remote states from tapping into
the lakes from their natural drainage basin with rare exceptions.
In addition, states would be required to regulate their own
large-scale water use and promote conservation. Michigan was the
final state to approve the pact last month.

Sen. George Voinovich, an Ohio Republican and co-chair of the
Senate Great Lakes Task Force with Levin, said the best way to
preserve and protect the lakes 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.”

Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wis., said the compact “will protect the
health of these precious bodies of fresh water, preventing
unnecessary and dangerous diversions of Great Lakes waters. I know
the people of Wisconsin feel strongly about the importance of
preserving the lakes for future generations.”

Wisconsin Sen. Herb Kohl, a Democrat, said the compact “would
preserve and protect one of our national treasures for us and
future generations.”

The National Wildlife Federation urged the House to quickly
follow the Senate’s lead, but that will have to wait until next
month, when Congress returns from its August recess. The compact
was approved by the House Judiciary Committee this week.

“It’s time to seal the deal and protect our lakes, our drinking
water, our economy and our way of life,” said Andy Buchsbaum,
regional executive director of the federation’s Great Lakes
office.

Rep. Bart Stupak, a Democrat who represents northern Michigan
and the Upper Peninsula, has questioned the compact because it
allows bottled water to be shipped from the region.

Cameron Davis, president of Alliance for the Great Lakes, said
the Senate’s quick action shows that Congress recognizes the Great
Lakes “as a national icon.” Levin introduced the bill just last
week.

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