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Doyle pushes to have Great Lakes Compact ratified

Governor Jim Doyle is in Washington, D.C. lobbying Congressional leaders in the push to ratify the Great Lakes Compact into law.

In a telephone conference with reporters Wednesday at 2 p.m., Doyle said he's working hard to encourage Congress to approve the compact and give the action the full force of law. His ultimate goal would be to have Congress OK the plan before they recess in September.

"Maybe I'm getting too hopeful," he said in the telephone conference. "I really want to build on the momentum. We're very hopeful that we can get this done."

Doyle said he's kept his "ears open" to see if any opposition to the proposal surfaces, but he's heard nothing so far.

"We've had tremendous, positive response to the compact," he said.

The compact has been adopted by all eight Great Lake states. If Congress consents to the compact, Great Lakes waters will have greater protections from water diversion efforts, withdrawls and other water use proposals.

Congress directed the Great Lakes states to develop protections for the water resources in 2000 when the Canadian Province of Ontario permitted the sale of tankers full of water to Asia.

Doyle said it's taken eight years to develop the eventual compact because the effort has included so many states, tribes, environmental groups and more.

"In the real world, that sounds like a lot of time," he said, "but in the world of government, it's not."

The resulting compact will provide needed protections so that future generations can enjoy the Great Lakes and the water it provides, he said.

Doyle joined Congressional leaders today (Wednesday) representing Great Lakes states in unveiling bipartisan, bicameral legislation to give Congress' consent to the Great Lakes - St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact. Joining Governor Doyle, who is Chairman of the Council of Great Lakes Governors, at a press conference on Capitol Hill were the six lead sponsors of the legislation, Senator Carl Levin (Mich.), Senator George Voinovich (Ohio), Rep. John Conyers (Mich.), Rep. James L. Oberstar (Minn.), Rep. Steven C. LaTourette (Ohio) and Rep. Vernon Ehlers (Mich.).

"I applaud the members of Congress for their leadership in protecting the Great Lakes," Governor Jim Doyle said. "It is gratifying to see the consensus that we have built in our region reflected in the bipartisan Congressional support for this historic measure. We must now do all that we can to work with our Congressional partners to turn these protections into law."

Historically, states and the federal government have supported interstate compacts to address water supply, water quality and flood control issues within the hydrological context of watersheds and basins. As of July 2008, there are at least 41 interstate water compacts that have been entered into by the party states and consented to by the U.S. Congress. Forty-five states and the District of Columbia currently belong to at least one interstate water compact and many states belong to more than one.

The Great Lakes generate $55 billion in tourism for the region and create nearly $377 million in personal income from wages and salaries. Wisconsin's harbors handle more than 40 million metric tons of cargo that support 11,000 jobs and are worth more than $7 billion a year.