For Immediate Release
Vice President, Legal and Governmental Affairs
Harrisburg, Pa. – The Pennsylvania Environmental Council (PEC) today praised the Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee for approving legislation — House Bill 1705 — that would help establish comprehensive protections against new diversions of fresh water from Lake Erie and the other Great Lakes for use outside of the basin.
“This legislation is a critical step toward ensuring the long-term vitality of Lake Erie and northwestern Pennsylvania,” John Walliser, Vice President of Legal and Governmental Affairs for PEC. “We commend Senators Mary Jo White, Ray Musto, and other members of the Committee for making sure our state helps protects this significant fresh water resource.”
House Bill 1705, sponsored by Rep. Patrick Harkins (Erie County), would adopt the Great Lakes – St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact in Pennsylvania. The Great Lakes Compact, once adopted by all eight Great Lakes states and consented to by Congress, would establish the first comprehensive water management and protection program for 20 percent of the world’s supply of fresh water.
The Great Lakes Compact was finalized in late 2005 after years of effort, receiving support from both Pennsylvania Governors Tom Ridge and Edward Rendell. Pennsylvania is one of the few remaining Great Lakes states to adopt the Great Lakes Compact; House Bill 1705 passed the House with unanimous support early this year.
“Lake Erie is a critical economic, environmental, and recreational asset for our state, particularly the northwest communities and industries who depend on sound management of its water resources,” noted Walliser. “But we must remember that the Great Lakes are also a vulnerable, finite resource; one that other areas of the country and even other nations are eyeing to fuel their own economic and population growth. We are thankful the General Assembly and Governor Rendell are making sure Pennsylvania’s interests in this tremendous regional asset are protected for the long-term.”
Walliser urged the General Assembly to give final approval to the legislation so it can be on Gov. Rendell’s desk for his signature before summer recess on June 30.