Opinion: Protect our Great Lakes from
Petoskey News Review
Published November 10th, 2004
We don't see the Great Lakes as akin to soy beans or pork
bellies, just some commodity - but some politicians do.
Several candidates for political office, during interviews
with the News-Review editorial board, pointed to trouble
brewing for the Great Lakes under a revised agreement
between lake basin states and Canadian provinces.
We couldn't agree more. Rather that stopping diversions
of Great Lakes water, the so-called Great Lakes Charter
Annex Agreement, known informally as Annex 2001, appears
to actually permit the practice.
The pact would not try to ban all out-of-basin diversions.
Instead, it would subject them to what supporters describe
as tough regulations meant to protect the lakes from misuse,
the Associated Press reports.
Since 1986, federal law gave governors of any Great Lakes
state veto over exports of water outside the system's
drainage basin, which extends more than 750 miles from
the St. Lawrence River to beyond the western shore of
A 1998 proposal to ship Lake Superior water to Asia prompted
warnings that the law could be struck down as a violation
of the U.S. Constitution and free-trade pacts.
So along came Annex 2001, which provides for the inevitability
of water leaving the Great Lakes. Diversions averaging
more than 1 million gallons a day over 120 days would
require unanimous approval of the eight states.
Critics say the plan makes a crucial error by conceding
that diversions cannot be stopped. We agree and side with
the observation of Annex 2001 opponent, Traverse City
environmental attorney Jim Olson, who says the agreement
underestimates the powers held by the states under the
common-law principle that the lakes are a public trust,
not an economic commodity bought and sold on some trading
Like we said, the lakes aren't pork bellies.
If adopted, Annex 2001 will leave the lakes with less
protection than they have today. These lakes are not only
critical to our health and well being, they are probably
the biggest contributor to our tourism economy here on
the shores of Little Traverse Bay and Lake Michigan.
Let the governor and state elected officials know how
you feel. The eight state governors and province premiers
hope to sign a final version next spring, then send it
to the state legislatures and Congress for ratification.
To dig up an old saying from the 1980s, "Just Say
No." We can and will protect our lakes from poachers,
pumps and politicians.