Monday, September 10, 2007

Legislative Water Committee Disbands: Fake "Sovereignty" Issue Cited

The state's legislative study committee on the Great Lakes Compact disbanded today - - perhaps paving the way for some more authentic debate and real action on Great Lakes preservation.

Lord knows the Great Lakes need it, but State Sen. Neal Kedzie (R-Elkhorn's) statement that "sovereignty" issues killed the discussion shows that this particular committee, heavily-laden with Compact foes and minimizers, never was going to produce serious Great Lakes debate and action.

Wisconsin would have ceded no "sovereignty" to the other Great Lakes states, even when those other seven states would have reviewed some Wisconsin communities' withdrawal applications - - because current US law gives the other states that power today.

And the other states' review also would have given Wisconsin a look and partial control over those outside diversion applications, too.

That's how a regional compact works.

The fake, 'states-righty' sovereignty argument originated in Ohio, by Compact obstructionists, and had been dismissed as irrelevant under Wisconsin law and procedures by state natural resources experts who appeared before the Committee.

Turns out some powerful Committee weren't listening. Pretty shocking.

Kedzie lost control of the committee, or gave it away, to the Waukesha-heavy membership, and those members stalled the committee into inaction, and now into oblivion.

So the Committee ended up with little to show for a year's worth of meetings - - but give credit where it is due - - to the genuinely publicly-minded members like Keith Reopelle of Clean Wisconsin, Ann Beier, the City of Milwaukee's Sustainability Officer, and Jodi Habush Sinykin, an attorney with Midwest Environmental Advocates, a public interest law firm.

They were among a steadfast group on the committee dedicated to serving the common good, not the needs of the Waukesha County Chamber of Commerce, or the Metropolitan Builders Association and other special interests.

Next up: Gov. Doyle's Compact working group, where some of the Compact obstructionists from Kedzie's Committee, like his colleague State Sen. Mary Lazich, (R-New Berlin), have mercifully been excluded from more negative participation.

Wisconsin needs a strong Great Lakes Compact in place to minimize diversions, implement conservation, eliminate bottled water exports and guarantee public participation in the efforts to preserve and restore Great Lakes water.

The faux concern about Wisconsin's sovereignty and developers' agendas in southeastern Wisconsin should not be allowed to drive this important public policy.

You can read Kedzie's letter to the legislative leadership folding his tent, here.

Kedzie also tells the committee members in a house-keeping note that he had distributed to them a Mary Lazich's paen to out-of-state obstructionists - - the text of which had been obtained earlier and published by this blog.

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