United States congressional approaches to the Great Lakes and North American trade.

Author:Ujczo, Daniel D.
Position:PROCEEDINGS OF THE CANADA- UNITED STATES LAW INSTITUTE CONFERENCE on An Example of Cooperation and Common Cause: Enhancing Canada-United States Security and Prosperity Through the Great Lakes and North American Trade: Cleveland, Ohio April 2-4, 2009


Speaker--Dennis Kucinich

MR. UJCZO: It is my great pleasure and high privilege to introduce this evening's keynote speaker, the Honorable Dennis Kucinich. Congressman Kucinich is a lifelong public servant who started in the 1970s through City Council, (1) a clerk of the Municipal Court, (2) and then in 1996 became the Congressional Representative to the Westside of Cleveland, Ohio. (3)

So without further ado, I know the Congressman has many things to do, this evening is the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Concert, (4) but it is my great privilege and high pleasure to introduce you to Congressman Dennis Kucinich.

(1) See Congressman Dennis Kucinich, About Dennis, http://kucinich.house.gov/Biograpby (last visited Sept. 14, 2009).

(2) Id.

(3) Id.

(4) See News Release, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame + Museum, The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Announces its Inductees for 2009 (Jan. 14, 2009), available at http://www.rockhall.com/pressroom/inductees-for-2009.


MR. KUCINICH: Thank you. Welcome to Cleveland, and indeed this is a big weekend in Cleveland. Certainly your conference is very important to our community, our state, and both of our nations. We also have the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction, and I am one of the hosts, s so I have to be rather brief. But I think I can be succinct in talking to you about some of the concerns that I've had, as someone who has participated in a number of meetings over the years of the Joint Commission, and who understands the importance of the work that we all do in terms of protecting Lake Erie and the Great Lakes as a common resource for both of our nations. (6)

I have been very involved in the issues relating to the Great Lakes over many years, (7) and I just wanted to cover a couple points with you here that relate to some of the concerns that I have that may be things you have not really heard because, unlike some of my colleagues, I actually read the legislation that is bought before us for considerations. (8) This is one of the reasons I voted against the Patriot Act. (9)

As we know, a few years ago, the eight governors of the Great Lakes states finished negotiating an agreement called "The Annex." (10) This would govern the conditions under which water withdrawals from the Great Lakes were permissible. (11) It would have provided the strongest possible protections for the Great Lakes, but the bottled water industry left themselves a loophole. (12) A loophole that courts and the World Trade Organization could make even bigger, potentially making the agreement even worse than the status quo. (13) Now there are many people that are not saying that, but I can submit to you and offer for your consideration the opportunity that if you take another look at the agreement, (14) you may see what I am concerned about.

Maintaining the quality and the quantity of water in the Great Lakes is a well-established problem. (15) There are several major water diversions (16) and withdrawals (17) already allowed under law, including a diversion for the city of Chicago, (18) which is already getting about two billion gallons per day. (19) Urban sprawl has created new demands for water while robbing aquifers of a chance of being replenished by painting over previously permeable ground. (20) Water supplies that are contaminated or depleted need to be replaced. In 2004, the United States Geological Survey, which tracks drinking water use in the United States, found that ground water is now flowing away from Lake Michigan instead of replenishing it. (21) Our own Lake Erie is the shallowest, (22) warmest, (23) most vulnerable of all the Great Lakes, (24) and it is the only one above sea level. (25)

There are good reasons to think the demand for this already strained water source will increase significantly. (26) Now, keep in mind that in the Great Lakes, we have the largest supply of fresh water in the world, (27) yet most educated guesses say that evaporation resulting from increased temperatures associated with climate change will result in significant water losses. (28) The population in the basin is expected to grow from thirty-four million to fifty million people in the next thirty years. (29) Many experts fear the thirsty and rapidly growing southwestern United States will need water so desperately that it will soon become financially viable for them to try to divert it from the Great Lakes. (30) As a result of climate change, that region is expected to experience more frequent, prolonged, and more severe droughts. (31)

What I see as the biggest water level issue is what I call the "bottled water provision." (32) Attempts to privatize Great Lakes water pose an unprecedented threat. (33) Before the Great Lakes Compact was enacted, the only way anyone could withdraw, even divert water, from the lakes in significant quantifies was to get...

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