Sam Speck’s appointment to the International Joint Commission (IJC) has just been confirmed by the U.S. Senate. The IJC implements the U.S.-Canada Boundary Waters Treaty of 1909. The treaty prohibits the pollution, use, or diversion of boundary waters (including the Great Lakes) without the approval of the IJC, subject to numerous qualifications. Obviously both countries routinely pollute, use, and divert boundary waters, but the treaty and IJC nonetheless provide an international legal framework for transboundary water protection. The IJC has six members (three from each country) and is often commended for its objectivity and leadership on environmental issues. The IJC’s reports are exceptionally informative and well researched, and are widely used by the public and policy makers.
I have known Sam Speck for many years, and could not think of a better person for the job. I first worked with Dr. Speck when he was director of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. During that time he held several regional leadership positions, including chair of the Great Lakes Commission. Most notably, Dr. Speck also chaired the Council of Great Lakes Governors working group that negotiated and drafted the proposed Great Lakes compact. He understands the issues and challenges facing the Great Lakes, and knows the policies and people to solve the problems. For more background on Dr. Speck, check out his official IJC bio and an article by Tom Henry of the Toledo Blade, written when Dr. Speck was nominated by President Bush last year. Congrats Sam, glad to have you on the job.