Obviously, the Great Lakes Compact has been far from the front page of most newspapers lately. However, the Chamber-supported bill that was put forth by bipartisan efforts in eight states and two Canadian provinces is a big deal for the Midwest, and is now officially a law.
Negotiations leading to the compact began in the late 1990s after an Ontario consulting firm obtained a provincial permit to ship 158 million gallons of Lake Superior water to Asia each year.
It later was withdrawn, but the case sent a shudder through the region and led the governors to investigate whether they had sufficient legal authority to reject similar attempts.
Supporters noted a United Nations estimate that by 2025, two-thirds of the world’s population would lack ready access to clean, fresh water.
The compact drew bipartisan support and was endorsed by presidential nominees Barack Obama and John McCain, as well as business and environmental groups in the region.
In this year’s state legislature, the passage of SB 45 made Indiana the first state to adopt the Great Lakes Compact and implemenation language. Prior to the session, the Chamber, in cooperation with environmental interest groups, hosted the Indianapolis public meeting on the compact. In testimony, the Indiana Chamber expressed its support for the bill, noting that nearly 20% of the world’s fresh water is contained in the Great Lakes and that we must do what we can to preserve and protect this valuable resource that is critical to many Indiana businesses, industries and residents.