1sunfight’s Weblog

August 17, 2008

August Great Lakes and Great Lakes Compact Update

In my July update of the events of the Great Lakes I overlooked one approach to protecting the Great Lakes from further infestations of invasive species coming from US Senator Russ Feingold who is considering closing the St. Lawrence Seaway from ocean going vessels. He and other conservationists would like to see strict ballast cleaning systems implemented; however that approach is not without its complications given the complexity of the amount of states and provinces involved in creating laws to meet this potential regulation. That said there has been a new invasive species detected in four of the five Great Lakes called the mollusk snail, or mud snail, that does not have any natural predators in the Great Lakes and is propagating at a rapid rate. The snail could be threatening fresh water tributaries like the zebra mussel has. The EPA has introduced a plan as one way of possibly dealing with this new invasive species. The Chicago Tribune has included excellent footage of the mollusk snail. In an article in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel it does offer good news concerning this new invasive species being less likely to colonize in shallower waters than its crustacean cousin the zebra mussel.

The Great Lakes

The Great Lakes

Earlier this year the two Canadian provinces of Ontario and Quebec passed into law their version of the Great Lakes—St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact with the eight states passing into state law this spring and early summer. Here is the layman’s explanation of the compact. Because section 10 of the United States Constitution prevents states from entering charters without the consent of Congress the compact needs ratification in both houses and the president of the United States signature to become the law of the land. This summer Russ Feingold introduced the compact to the US Senate with this well thought out presentation: On the Great Lakes Compact. There have been a total of 16 members of the US Senate who where were sponsors of the compact that includes Russ Feingold, and notably presidential candidate Barack Obama. This compact was initiated because of real fears of water diversion to Asia and the desert southwest.

Early in August in an unprecedented nine days the United States Senate unanimously approved the Great Lakes Compact. The bill now must pass the House of Representatives whose judiciary committee has already endorsed it. The bill will go up for Congressional approval after the summer recess and is expected to pass, with George W. Bush promising to sign off on the compact before he leaves office.

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