The Great Lakes Are Under Threat and Wisconsin Fiddles


David Paterson being sworn in as Governor; New York Times

One of the very first acts performed by David Paterson as Governor of New York was to sign a law enacting the Great Lakes Compact, an agreement among all of the States and Canadian Provinces around the Great Lakes to protect the lakes from pollution, invasive species and covetous neighbors. To make a bad pun, it is a watershed agreement, an international coalition to protect one of the world's great resources.

Except it has to be approved unanimously and Republican politicians in Wisconsin are playing games, sacrificing one of their greatest assets on the altar of cheesy politics. They don't like co-operating with neighbors- one state senator wrote "To relinquish our sovereignty to a regional body of governors that can make changes after the compact is adopted is unacceptable. Where else do we have a dictatorial or totalitarian form of government where we give up our decision-making authority? I do not support a document that relinquishes our sovereignty to another state"
Detroit News

The Heartland Institute nutbars, noted for their recent success at running the Denial-a-palooza in New York, are also against the deal, writing about Michigan: "Michigan may be the most water-rich of our 50 states. Ninety-nine percent of the state lies within the Great Lakes Basin. Yet its elected officials are moving to support a new "Annex" to the Great Lakes Compact that, if approved by the U.S. Congress, would eliminate the state's sovereignty over its own water resources."

As the editors of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel note, "The compact does not provide ironclad protection for the Great Lakes; Congress can always supersede it. And it is not without its flaws. But passage would provide much clearer guidance for providing water to communities outside the natural basin of the Great Lakes, as well as political support for keeping that water within the basin." They are demanding a special session of the Legislature to approve it.

As one writer to the Sheboygan Press wrote about the Republican controlled assembly: [they] "push simple-minded hot buttons, spout hollow slogans, and protect the wealthy."

The other 32 million Americans and Canadians downstream from Wisconsin and sharing Great Lakes water should be worried about what is happening up there and considering their options in dealing with a state that considers sharing authority with them "totalitarian and dictatorial".

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