Friday, February 15, 2008

National Wildlife Federation Says Compact 'Amenders' Are "Hijacking" The Agreement

The National Wildlife Federation has strong words for leaders in the Republican Assembly caucuses of the Ohio and Wisconsin legislatures who want to send the Great Lakes Compact agreement into renegotiation purgatory.

As I have been arguing, this is a deliberate tactic to kill the Compact, and Compact opponents who have lined up in a shamefully destructive partisan approach to regional water stewardship know it.

I first noted efforts by Compact opponents in April, 2007 to convince Wisconsin legislators to make changes sought by conservative Ohio Republicans.

In August, I posted more material about the Ohio-Wisconsin anti-Compact alliance.

I had interviewed the leading Ohio opponent, State Sen. Tim Grendell, the organizer of a meeting in Michigan among midwest legislators who were said to have reservations about the Compact as written.

Grendell has worked State Sen. Mary Lazich, (R-New Berlin) to push the Compact back into negotiations: she unsuccessfully tried to convince a state legislative study committee to buy into Grendell's theories of water rights.

But now, along with Lazich, the Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce is calling the shots, and water-carriers from the Waukesha County Chamber of Commerce to Waukesha County Executive Dan Vrakas are willing to risk the Great Lakes for their narrow special, partisan interests.
Update here:

Make no mistake about it: some Waukesha political and business leaders are playing hardball and it's time to call them on it.

Publicly, they say they are Compact supporters.

But then the specifics come out: Supporters of just a certain kind of Compact, gutted of its essential principle of unanimous, eight-state approvals of diversions of water outside of the Great Lakes basin boundaries.

That is already the underpinning of applicable federal law, and how a Compact works.

And there is no way that the other Great Lakes states are going to resume negotiations that ran from 2001-2005 and produced a document already approved by four of the eight Great Lakes states' legislatures.

Waukesha County was already given diversion application permission in the Compact - - a direct, demonstrable route to Great Lakes water - - with the help of Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources negotiators in 2004-2005.

Communities like New Berlin that straddle the actual basin boundary were given an even easier application standard to meet.

Yet now Waukesha's legislators want even more, and they know it isn't going to happen.

They should come clean, state they are killing the Compact, and deal with the consequences openly, rather than hiding behind the spin that all they are looking for is a simple do-over, a little tweak, a numbers change, making an "eight" into "a majority."

Environmentalists were tagged as zealots for trying to strengthen the Compact with tough provisions that would not have allowed diverted water to be transferred to communities new annexations.

Those provisions would have made the conservation goals of the Compact real and effective.

Those changes did not make it into the draft bill.

If that was zealotry, then just what the heck is the Assembly GOP/Waukesha business elite position?

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