PEC Praises Pennsylvania Passage of Historic Great Lakes Compact Legislation

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The Pennsylvania Environmental Council (PEC) praised the Pennsylvania General Assembly for giving final approval to House Bill 1705, legislation that will ratify the Great Lakes – St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact.  The bill now goes to Gov. Rendell for his consideration.

House Bill 1705 was introduced by Representative Patrick Harkins (D-Erie), and sponsored by Representatives Florindo Fabrizio (D-Erie), John Hornaman (D-Erie) and many others in the House; and supported in the Senate by Senators Jane Earll (R-Erie) and Mary Jo White (R-Venango) who represent the Lake Erie Watershed.

“This is a historic moment for Pennsylvania and for the Great Lakes,” said John Walliser, Vice President of Legal and Governmental Affairs for PEC.  “We commend the leadership of the General Assembly – particularly the Erie delegation including Representative Patrick Harkins, Senator Mary Jo White, Senator Jane Earll, and Representative John Hornaman – for protecting a vital environmental, economic, and recreational resource for our state.”

The Great Lakes Compact will 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.

PEC helped develop and support the legislation by working directly with representatives of the City and County of Erie, agriculture, business and industry, and environmental interests in the Lake Erie Watershed.

“Lake Erie is critical for the northwest communities and industries who depend on sound management of its water resources,” noted Walliser.  “The Great Lakes are a finite resource already experiencing extraordinary demands, including those from other areas of the country and even other nations that are eyeing the Great Lakes to fuel their own economic 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.”

Pennsylvania was the last of eight Great Lakes states to adopt the Compact, which now must be ratified by the U.S. Congress to become law.