Sunday, May 6, 2007

Journal Sentinel Wisely Endorses Great Lakes Compact

Though the Waukesha County Chamber of Commerce continues to campaign against the Great Lakes Compact - - misunderstanding and misconstruing the eight-state, two-nation cooperative water management agreement - - The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Sunday urged that Wisconsin adopt the Compact.

The editorial may help jumpstart discussions in Madison where a state study committee has been bogged down since December, unable to find agreement - - in large measure because business and conservative political interests in Waukesha County have been trying to weaken or derail the effort.

One opponent, State Sen. Mary Lazich, (R-New Berlin), has been touting an academic from Colorado who thinks a four-to-five year negotiating process that has produced crucial, proposed amendments to the Compact be scrapped.

The Journal Sentinel wisely says that's a bad idea, and urges Compact adoption now. That's showing opinion-making leadership, something in short supply among some participants in the process.

Such as Waukesha Chamber of Commerce spokesman Brian Nemoir, who submitted an op-ed piece that the paper ran Sunday, too.

Nemoir repeated the Chamber's tired, Waukesha-centric, 'us-first' arguments: that the Compact needs to be shaped to meet Waukesha's narrow interests.

Nemoir tries to fit that position under the rubric of regionalism, and the on-going work of the Milwaukee 7.

But Nemoir again fails to see that the real region on which the Compact is based is the Great Lakes Region.

And that by adopting the Compact (actually the Compact's amendments to codify diversion procedures: the Compact and related Federal laws have been in place with Wisconsin's participation since 1985), Wisconsin gets as much voice in protecting its waters as other states get in requiring reasonableness from our state, too.

It's a little hard to take the Chamber position seriously: For months, it has had on its website commentary opposing the Compact, and continues to erroneously state that Canadian provinces bordering the Great Lakes can veto a water diversion application by Wisconsin or another US State.

That is false.

Canada's role on US states' diversion requests is advisory; the facts have been pointed out repeatedly in both the Journal Sentinel and on this blog, yet the Chamber will not correct its website content.

Contrast Nemoir's approach to the Sunday op-ed written by longtime Waukesha environmental activist Steve Schmuki. His is a big-picture argument for widespread stewardship of water.

The newspaper's editorial was an urgent message to the study committee, and all parties, to get busy and adopt the Compact.

In other words, Compact adoption, first. Big Region Regional Cooperation, first.

In Sunday's round of diverse opinions: advantage Schmuki, and more to the point, the Great Lakes.

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