At the Great Lakes Town Hall, Jane Elder takes a swipe at the lethargy that seems to be epidemic in the U.S. over the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement. A long term advocate for Great Lakes protection, she's turning over rocks that many probably haven't even noticed:
The last time I checked, not a single individual in any of the US environmental groups was assigned to work on this topic. As far as I know, no US foundation has granted a dime to invest in this process. And where is our Czar? On the negotiating team? No.
Last spring U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon extolled the successes of a shared history of environmental cooperation. Celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Boundary Waters Treaty on the Rainbow Bridge linking Canada and the U.S. at Niagara Falls, Clinton recognized that,
...we have to do more than honor the past. We have to recommit ourselves to strengthening this partnership and find new ways to work together to solve common problems.
And with that, they pledged to renegotiate the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement.
It's no small task, and building an Agreement for the challenges of the 21st century demands a multi-faceted and detailed approach. Input from all stakeholders is essential. But all this is for naught without clear leadership from both governments.
At the same time, in her post at the Town Hall, Elder recognizes that the environmental and conservation community needs to rally if the governments are to be enticed into taking the "bold action" Clinton described on that windy bridge in June. The only thing worse than a dusty, ineffective Agreement, is a shiny, ineffective Agreement.
The environmental movement in the Great Lakes region can take pride in the degree to which cooperation has historically propelled the Great Lakes to the top of an international agenda. We can keep that reputation alive. Activity on the Water Quality Agreement is ramping up, but it's not too late to engage. Contact us and get involved.