diversion accord on hold Tom Henry
A member of Gov. Bob Taft’s cabinet involved in efforts
to curb diversions and bulk exports of Great Lakes water
said yesterday that officials will tread lightly on the
subject until they get more feedback from the region’s new
Sam Speck, director of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources,
said at a water conference at the University of Toledo that
he has no doubt the new mix of leadership will support such
But he admitted that progress toward implementing an international
pact signed in Niagara Falls last year is in a holding pattern.
"Let’s not kid ourselves - we are facing enormous challenges,"
Mr. Speck said. The governor assigned him to help work out
details of the Annex 2001 agreement signed on June 18, 2001,
by Great Lakes governors and two Canadian premiers.
The agreement would attempt to close loopholes that legal
experts claim have arisen for water exports under the North
American Free Trade Agreement, the General Agreement on
Trade and Tariff, and other changes in international trade
States and provinces were given a self-imposed deadline
of up to three years to agree on a method for implementing
the details. Congress and Canada’s Parliament will be asked
to ratify the final document.
Democrats won Republican-held gubernatorial seats in Michigan,
Wisconsin, Illinois, and Pennsylvania on Nov. 5. Republican
Tim Pawlenty won the gubernatorial seat in Minnesota held
by Independent Jesse Ventura. The only states in the region
where changes did not occur were Ohio, New York, and Indiana.
Mr. Taft and another GOP incumbent, George Pataki, were
re-elected, while Indiana Gov. Frank O’Bannon, a Republican,
is not up for re-election until 2004.
Mr. Speck told The Blade that the general concept of keeping
Great Lakes water within the region is not controversial,
but that there will be a lot of work in getting new leadership
"up to speed" on how the agreement would achieve that goal.
The conference was the second major symposium of its kind
sponsored in two years by UT’s Legal Institute of the Great
Lakes, part of the university’s law school.
Control of the lakes rose to prominence as an international
issue in 1998 after a Canadian company called the Nova Group
secured a permit from Ontario to ship a limited amount of
Lake Superior water to Asia. The permit eventually was relinquished
by the group after an outcry on both sides of the border.
Jonathan Gee, a policy manager for Environment Canada, said
the Nova case was "largely the result of poorly coordinated
No diversion and bulk export applications are pending in
the region, prompting Tom Hays, a West Toledo lawyer, to
ask why the issue is portrayed as a crisis.
"We’re not about responding to a crisis. We’re about averting
a crisis," said Dr. Michael Donahue, president and chief
executive officer of the Great Lakes Commission. The commission
is a bi-national government agency in Ann Arbor that helps
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