Great Lakes Compact compromise likelyWisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle plans to make what his office called a “major announcement” regarding the Great Lakes Compact that has stalled in the Legislature under Republican opposition.
By: Shelley Nelson, The Daily Telegram
Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle plans to make what his office called a “major announcement” regarding the Great Lakes Compact that has stalled in the Legislature under Republican opposition.
Doyle scheduled a news conference this afternoon in New Berlin along with several mayors from the area, state lawmakers and others to address the compact, which would regulate the transit of Great Lakes water to cities inside and outside of this region, along with industrial users.
Doyle has urged the Legislature to approve the compact, but Assembly Republicans have blocked it. They are concerned about a provision that allows any Great Lakes governor to block any request to pull water from any of the lakes.
There also has been concern locally, where a larger Murphy Oil refinery may need considerably more water than the existing plant. That concern was addressed in the final bill passed by the Wisconsin Senate. Dave Podratz, refinery manager for Murphy Oil, praised the senate’s final bill.
The governor is expected to call a special session of the Legislature to consider the compact, said Shauna Cook, communications creative director with Clean Wisconsin.
Sen. Bob Jauch, D-Poplar, confirmed the governor’s planned announcement for today’s press conference. He said a special session would be called for next week and is expected to pass with overwhelming support.
Jauch said minor changes to the bill and a provision that required water conservation have changed. While the senate-adopted bill required water conservation practices statewide, he said the change would require conservation for communities living within the Great Lakes basin. Communities outside the basin would be on a voluntary basis, he said.
Superior Mayor Dave Ross said he received word that a compromise had been reached on legislation that would govern how the compact works in Wisconsin. Ross said he had received word from David Ulrich of the Great Lakes Cities Initiative that a vote is imminent.
“It should be ratified ...,” Ross said this morning. “This is really good news.”
Jauch said he is hopeful the Assembly would pass the bill next week, making it possible for the governor to sign it into law on Earth Day, honoring Gaylord Nelson’s legacy. A former U.S. Senator from Wisconsin and governor, Nelson founded Earth Day, the first of which was April 22, 1970.
All eight Great Lakes states and Congress must agree to the deal before it can take effect.
Minnesota, Illinois, Indiana and New York have ratified the treaty that will give unprecedented protection for the Great Lakes. Ohio and Pennsylvania, like Wisconsin, have passed enabling legislation in one chamber of the legislature; Michigan has an active bill to consider.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.