A joint resolution and bill expressing Congressional consent and approval of the Great Lakes compact have been introduced in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI, and co-chair with Sen. George Voinovich (R-OH) of the Great Lakes Task Force) introduced S.J. Res. 45. Almost every senator from a Great Lakes state is cosponsoring S.J. Res. 45. The joint resolution was referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee, which then promptly scheduled a full committee hearing on it for July 30 (Sen. Russ Feingold, D-WI will preside over the hearing).
In the House, Rep. Jim Oberstar (D-MN and chair of the Transportation & Infrastructure Committee) is the lead sponsored of H.R. 6577. As of July 24, there were 33 cosponsors (including my Congressman, Rep. John Dingell). The bill has been referred to the House Judiciary Committee chaired by Rep. John Conyers of Detroit, a cosponsor of the bill.
This is another historic step for the Great Lakes compact, and when Sen. Levin introduced the joint resolution to approve the compact, he made a superb statement (available in the Senate’s Congressional Record - S7170, July 23 2008). His entire remarks are worth reading, but I’ve excerpted portions of the first three paragraphs:
Mr. President, in 1831, the great chronicler of early America, Alexis de Tocqueville, explored the Great Lakes. As he passed through Lake Huron, he observed of the empty, undeveloped expanse: ‘‘This lake without sails, this shore which does not yet show any trace of the passage of man, this eternal forest which borders it; all that, I assure you, is not grand in poetry only; it’s the most extraordinary spectacle that I have seen in my life.’’
Nearly 2 centuries later, the Great Lakes remain one of the most extraordinary spectacles in the world. The sheer size of the Great Lakes is impressed upon anyone who has stood on their shores…. Beyond their awe-inspiring appearance and enormity, the Great Lakes help fuel an economic engine that stretches from Minnesota to New York, producing some of our nations most celebrated and relied-upon goods and agricultural products.
This morning, my colleagues and I are introducing a joint resolution to ratify an historic agreement to manage Great Lakes water, the Great Lakes Water Resources Compact. … The Great Lakes Compact will provide an effective means for Great Lakes states jointly to safeguard water for future generations.