Republican Legislator Mentions 'Taking Up Arms' In Regard To Threats To Tap The Great Lakes

A water shortage can bring out the 'Yosemite Sam' in the most genteel of persons, as well as join politicians in a common defense against water pilfering outlanders. On TreeHugger posts, and elsewhere, Great Lakes-area residents' comments on the acceptability of Great Lakes water transfers to quench the thirst of other states boil down to this: 'If you want our water, move up here.'

When the well runs dry, snowbirds will just have to move back home to the land of ice, snow and water.

Due to a US Congressional committee effort, it looks as if this topic is heating up a bit. And, as parochial as some of this sounds, we think it's a good thing to make the debate public through verbal provocation-- before the worst case might come to reality. More on that down-post.

Two Michigan members of Congress fired a stern warning Thursday to colleagues in faster-growing, drought-stricken parts of the nation: Don't even consider using a seemingly harmless bill to study the nation's water usage as cover to begin a process aimed at taking Great Lakes water.

"I don't think I'm being too alarmist about this," said Rep. Candice Miller, a Harrison Township Republican. "Do not look to the Great Lakes to solve the nation's water problems."

Her Michigan colleague on the House subcommittee on water resources and environment, Grand Rapids Republican Vern Ehlers [pictured], predicted what might happen if anyone attempted a water grab.

"I would suspect we'd call up the militia and take up arms," Ehlers said. "We feel that serious about it."

You have to wonder how welcoming Michigan residents would be to a drought-driven diaspora of 5 to 10 million new residents, given that the Great Lakes states are already suffering for jobs. The meta message is more like this: 'we'll take your jobs and taxbase and maybe some of your best and brightest.'

Contemplate this for a minute and you'll see how difficult and complex a real worst case water crisis in the Southeast could become. Katrina can't begin to approach the long term significance of a temporarily abandoned metropolis of 5+ million, for example.

In a worst case drought for the US Southeast, what's most likely to happen is that, by the end of the summer of 2008, residents would begin to relocate to periphery of the drought, awaiting return of the rains. Hotels and relatives homes and homeless shelters would fill. Needs would accelerate for those without vehicles. They'd need much more than water.

There's not going to be any need for Michigan Militia or the like. But plenty more compassion and social services will be needed where people settle in to wait and to facilitate evacuation.

Time to stiffen the social safety net. Is the US Congress or FEMA up to that? (Please, we beg you, no FEMA Administrator quotes along the lines of "Who could have guessed this would happen?")

Back to the call to arms provocation.

Their comments came Thursday during a discussion about legislation called the 21st Century Water Commission Act, which would authorize a study of how the nation uses water, where it comes from and how long it will last.

Apparently, the [Congressional] panel talking about the legislation included speakers from Arizona, Georgia and Texas -- and none from the Great Lakes region - while the commission and a possible national water policy were being proposed by someone representing a drought-stricken area.'

Via::Detroit Free Press, "Legislators: Hands off our water, Two House members from Michigan demand no diversion of the Great Lakes to other states" Image credit, Washington Post, Votes Database, Vernon Ehlers, R. Michigan

Tags: Atlanta | Congress | Drought | Michigan

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