IJC kicks the can

Mike SchoonveldEach of the Great Lakes comes with its own set of problems. That’s been the case for over a century and that’s why the governments of Canada and the U.S. banded together to create an organization called the International Joint Commission more than a century ago – to handle the problems.

Along the way, the IJC has done some great things, some very idiotic things and more recently, it seems, they are bent on doing increasingly politically correct things. What’s more PC these days than “kicking the can down the road?”

Can-kicking as a political ploy probably predates the invention of cans to kick. The ploy, however, is identical. When faced with a tough decision or controversial issue don’t face it and risk alienating a portion of the electorate. Have some meetings, state one or both sides of the issue and postpone actually doing anything until after the next election cycle.

For the past several years, the amount of algae in Lake Erie has grown to serious proportions. Along the shores, in all four Lake Erie states and in Ontario, the problem has gotten widespread coverage. For those of us old enough to remember Lake Erie being pronounced “dead” by environmentalists, it’s deja vu.

The problem then was excessive nutrient load, specifically, phosphorus. The problem is now exactly the same.

So the IJC convened a multi-day meeting in Cleveland to address the algae problem, supposedly listen to concerns, supply a bevy of expert speakers and then announce their new program addressing the problem. I’m sure they have a cute moniker for the initiative involving the word “initiative.” I call it kicking the can.

For two years, the problem will be studied. No matter that everyone knows the excessive phosphorus in the lake stems from sewage and fertilizer. “We need studies!” After the studies are done, there will be a three-year period in which the results of the studies are studied… then the implementation stage starts.

Not only does this process get them past this year’s election cycle, it gets them through the 2016 cycle! Maybe by then, Lake Erie will be dead again. If so, I’m sure the IJC will study it.

Categories: Michigan – Mike Schoonveld

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