[Date Prev][Date Next][Date Index]

GLIN==> Governors / premiers pledge diversion protection this year

Great Lakes United Sustainable Waters Watch # 9
Week of February 8, 2002


Seven months after signing the Annex 2001 plan for protecting the Great 
Lakes against large-scale diversion, the region's ten governors and 
premiers have finally released a timeline to negotiate the formal, legally 
binding agreement that would carry out the promises of the annex.

The governors and premiers plan to present a draft reform agreement to the 
basin public in June of this year, followed by a 90-day comment period. All 
ten jurisdictions have agreed to hold public meetings to accept citizen 
comment on the draft plan. They will then revise the draft plan based on 
the public comment and complete a final document for signature by all ten 
governors and premiers in late November.

The new agreement is intended to protect the region from bulk water export 
and diversion by reforming state and provincial water use law to protect 
the environment rather than only the interests of human water users. By 
focusing their water use laws on environmental protection and treating all 
water proposals the same whether intended for use inside or outside the 
Great Lakes basin, the governors and premiers hope to make future 
rejections of damaging bulk water export and diversion proposals immune 
from challenge under U.S. trade laws or international trade agreements.

The timeline is ambitious, given that the parties took almost two years to 
agree just to the principles of the original Annex 2001 document. The 
scheduled November completion date would allow conclusion of the process 
before any change in the lineup of regional executives. At the end of this 
year the governors of Illinois, Pennsylvania, and Michigan are leaving 
office and the governors of Minnesota, Wisconsin, Ohio and New York will 
stand for reelection. The premier of Quebec may also call an election this 
year. Ontario will have a new premier next month.

The negotiating group and its subcommittees

The governors and premiers have appointed a group of at least twenty 
negotiators, a minimum of two from each jurisdiction, to write the new 
agreement. The executives are still considering possible means for 
including  the governments of sovereign basin tribes and First Nations, 
some of which border the lakes and connecting channels.

The negotiating group has three subcommittees, responsible for 1) the 
substance of the agreement itself, that is, the ways in which water use law 
would be reformed, chaired by Illinois Office of Water Resources Director 
Don Vonnahme, 2) the means for making the agreement binding on the states, 
chaired by Matt Hare, natural resources policy coordinator for Michigan 
Gov. John Engler, and 3) the means for making the agreement binding between 
the provinces and across the binational border, chaired by Western 
Hemisphere Acting Team Leader Bill Carr of the Ontario Office of 
International Relations and Protocol.

The governors and premiers have also invited 24 organizations, including 
Great Lakes United, the Canadian Environmental Law Association, and the 
National Wildlife Federation, to advise the negotiators in their efforts. 
This advisory committee consists of representatives from six key sectors of 
basin civil society, including environmental groups (five representatives), 
industry (eight), recreation and tourism (one), municipal water suppliers 
(four), agriculture (three), and hydropower and other utilities (three). 
Nine of the 24 advisors will be from Canada. As with the involvement of 
tribal and First Nations governments in the actual negotiations, the 
governors and premiers have also not yet determined how First Nations 
nongovernmental organizations will be involved with the advisory committee. 
The first meeting of the advisory committee will be held March 15 in 
Washington, D.C.

Prospects for success

To all appearances the premiers and governors are following through with 
the commitment they made last June to negotiate a strong agreement. 
However, the state and provincial negotiators have not been given 
sufficient resources to carry out their work. Budget shortfalls in all the 
jurisdictions have resulted in travel restrictions so severe that only two 
face-to-face meetings among the negotiators are scheduled before the draft 
plan is made public in June. Most of the negotiations are planned to take 
place by conference call. The states have pledged limited financial 
resources for the overall effort, but most of the money is going to 
centralized administrative support and outside legal help. The states and 
provinces have not allocated extra resources to their negotiators, nor 
offered any resources to the advisory committee. This is surprising given 
the importance of the negotiations.

Like the negotiators, the advisory committee is also scheduled to meet only 
twice before delivery of the draft plan. The negotiating team has also 
outlined no structure for receiving input from the advisory committee. This 
could be problematic, given the likely diversity of views on the committee. 
Some members of the advisory committee may not even agree that the 
governors and premiers should be negotiating a water use reform effort in 
the first place.

For official information on the negotiating or advisory committee process, 
contact Pete Johnson at the Council of Great Lakes Governors, cglg@cglg.org 
or 312-407-0177. For unofficial analysis of the negotiation effort or 
advisory committee process, contact Reg Gilbert at Great Lakes United, 
reg@glu.org or 716-886-0142; Sarah Miller at the Canadian Environmental Law 
Association, millers@olap.org or 416-960-2284 x213; or Andy Buchsbaum at 
the National Wildlife Federation, buchsbaum@nwf.org or 734-769-3351.


Reg Gilbert
Senior Coordinator

(716) 886-0142, fax: -0303

Great Lakes United
Buffalo State College, Cassety Hall
1300 Elmwood Ave.
Buffalo, NY, 14222



* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
glin-announce is hosted by the Great Lakes Information Network (GLIN):
To subscribe: http://www.glin.net/forms/glin-announce_form.html
To post a message: http://www.glin.net/forms/glin-announce_post.html
To search the archive: http://www.glin.net/lists/glin-announce/
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *