Climate Action: Great Lakes Compact

National Wildlife Federation and the Alliance for
the Great Lakes applaud the U.S. Congress for sealing historic protections for
the Great Lakes that have been a decade in the

The House of Representatives last week ratified the Great Lakes
Compact, a bill aimed to prevent the diversion of water from the Great
Lakes region
. Eight Great
Lakes states negotiated the compact after more than four years of
talks involving business, scientific and environmental interests. The Compact
was approved on a vote of 390-25 and now moves to President Bush, who has said
he will sign it by October 7. The Senate approved the Compact in August.

“This is a historic day for all of us
who depend on the Great Lakes – and that’s millions of people, businesses,
farmers and communities,” said Andy Buchsbaum, regional executive director of
the National Wildlife Federation’s Great Lakes office. “For the first time ever, the Great
Lakes will be truly protected from water depletion. The Great Lakes
Compact will keep the Great Lakes great for the
next millennium.”

The Great Lakes contain more than 90
percent of the fresh surface water in the United
States. Though seemingly abundant, less than 1 percent of the Great Lakes water is renewed each year, leaving the lakes
vulnerable to depletion. That vulnerability is even more
precarious in the face of global warming, which threatens to shrink lake

Together with companion laws in the
Canadian provinces of Ontario and Quebec, the compact stresses conservation and establishes
first-of-its-kind decision-making standards for Great
Lakes water use.

Wildlife Federation, as co-chair of the Healing Our Waters® – Great Lakes
, is leading a national campaign to urge enactment of a
comprehensive restoration plan to modernize sewage treatment, clean-up polluted
harbors, restore wetlands, and prevent unwanted, new species from invading the
lakes. We must act now to restore the lakes and safeguard our Great Lakes way of life.

Published: October 1, 2008