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Great Lakes Article:

Firm position protecting lake is right approach
The News-Messenger

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

We're happy to see Ohio's lawmakers -- especially those from our area -- staying firm in their opposition to siphoning of water from Lake Erie.

Last week, the Ohio House unanimously passed a resolution applauding the International Joint Commission for its efforts to protect the waters of the Great Lakes and urge completion of a 2001 non-binding agreement to regulate removal and distribution of that freshwater.

The Senate approved the measure in June.

Rep. Jeff Wagner, R-Sycamore, said the resolution is an important step to protecting the region, particularly Lake Erie.

"The value of Lake Erie and the Great Lakes basin cannot be overstated in terms of the benefits brought not only to northern Ohio, but for the entire state."

We couldn't agree more. The lake must be protected. It is crucial from a health standpoint, from a quality of life standpoint, from an environmental standpoint and from an economic standpoint.

The resolution was sponsored by Sen. Larry Mumper, R-Marion. House Minority Leader Chris Redfern, D-Catawba Island, had introduced an identical version in the House.

The Ohio Environmental Council urged passage of the resolution, saying the state could become the region's standard-bearer for protecting the Great Lakes.

We hope so. Protection of Lake Erie, obviously, will not be truly effective if other lakes are not safeguarded.

The five lakes represent 20 percent of the world's freshwater supply. Only about 1 percent of their total volume is replaced each year.

In the past, private companies have looked into siphoning millions of gallons from the lakes and selling it as drinking water to places as far away as Asia. Without regional enforcement such plans could become reality and could become serious problems.

A draft agreement to control Great Lakes water among the adjacent territories is expected to be ready by early 2004.

We hope it takes a strong position protecting this outstanding natural resource.

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