Monday, September 8, 2008

Kucinich Joins Stupak In Call For Compact Review

Aug 20: On August 1, the U.S. Senate approved the Great Lakes – St. Lawrence River Water Basin Resources Compact (S.J.Res. 45) by unanimous consent [See WIMS 8/4/08]. The matter is now in the House of Representatives for consideration. On July 30, the House Committee on the Judiciary, Chaired by Representative John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI), considered a Markup of H.R. 6577, introduced by Representative James Oberstar (D-MN) which would provide approval of the Compact.

While the approval is on a fast-track, there are still concerns from some regarding the public trust doctrine issue and its relationship to international trade agreements such as NAFTA and GATT [
See WIMS 7/23/08]. On July 30, U.S. Representative Bart Stupak (D-Menominee, MI) requested comment from two Federal agencies and the International Joint Commission (IJC) on the Great Lakes Compact. In letters sent to the U.S. Department of State, U.S. Trade Representative and the IJC, Stupak asked for response to concerns that have been raised regarding the commercialization of Great Lakes water and the possible applicability of international trade law if the compact were to be enacted [See WIMS 8/4/08]. On August 1, Representative Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) introduced H.R. 6814, which has now been referred to Representative Oberstar's, Transportation & Infrastructure Committee and the Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment. The Kucinich bill attempts to address the public trust doctrine concern by adding language to the Water Resources Development Act.

On August 20, 2008, Representative Kucinich wrote to Representative Conyers and in a 4-page letter said, "I write with concern about the strength of the Great Lakes Compact. The protection of the Great Lakes from diversions and exports is a laudable and critical goal. However, the Compact contains major loopholes that could allow water to be transferred outside of the Basin and could result in the privatization of Great Lakes waters for commercial sale, thus undermining the intent of the agreement.

"Congress can close the loopholes without sending the Compact back to the State to be ratified again by taking two necessary and complementary actions. The first is to include language in the Committee Report for the Compact [described in detail in the letter] . . . The second is to adopt H.R. 6814, which strengthens the public trust doctrine provisions in the Water Resources Development Act of 1986 in ways that Compact Report language alone cannot. . ."

Access the letter from Representative Kucinich (
click here). Access legislative details for H.R. 6814 (click here). Access legislative details for S.J.Res.45 (click here). Access legislative details for H.R. 6577 (click here). Access previous WIMS articles for background on the public trust concerns (click here).