Friday, October 03, 2008

Bush Signs Great Lakes Compact

Lost in all the brouhaha about pullouts and bailouts and that crazy QVC host on the TV last night trying to sell us the "McCain-O-Matic" (he slices! he dices! and now he comes with 100% more mavericky goodness, you betcha! * wink *) - George Bush actually did something good today.

Yes, I know you find that hard to believe, but it's true. Witness history - somewhere down the road we will look back on this day for something other than the election year insanity.

Great Lakes water cannot be diverted to thirsty areas elsewhere in the United States and abroad under an agreement signed Friday by President Bush.

Approval of the Great Lakes Compact was the final step in a nearly decade-long quest to strengthen legal protections for the five Great Lakes, their connecting channels and the St. Lawrence River. It received bipartisan support and the backing of business and environmental groups and both presidential candidates.

So all you desert states out West can now stop eyeing this water. Move along, nothing to see here - unless of course you want to visit and go swimming. Then it's OK. Bring the kids. But other than that...

The Great Lakes contain nearly 20 percent of the world's fresh surface water. Compact supporters long have voiced concern that arid regions such as the western U.S. would target the lakes as the Sun Belt's population and political clout grew.

The United Nations estimates that by 2025, two-thirds of the world's population will lack ready access to clean, fresh water.

An Ontario consulting firm's 1998 proposal to ship 158 million gallons of Lake Superior water per year to Asia inspired negotiations leading to the pact. A permit issued to the firm was withdrawn before the water was taken.

States have two years to set up management and conservation programs for the Lakes - with flexibility provided. Environmentalists and certain lawmakers have voiced concerns about the ability to withdraw at 5.7 gallons per container, and perhaps someday the language will need some revision if some company is crazy enough to try to draw huge amounts of water out that way - but for now, we can say the Lakes are officially protected from mass diversions. And that's a good thing.

Back to the election, already in progress...