NAWASH CHIEF SAYS TO IJC:
NATIVES OPPOSE PLANS FOR NORTHERN ONTARIO
The Globe and Mail
March 30, 1999
by Richard Mackie
[S.I.S.I.S. note: The following mainstream news article may contain biased or distorted information and may be missing pertinent facts and/or context. It is provided for reference only.]
Toronto -- Leaders of native bands in Ontario are rallying to fight the allocation of land in Northern Ontario for forest companies, mining interests and for protection as parks. The allocation of land, announced yesterday under the Lands for Life process, leaves the 30,000 members of native communities in the region "totally frozen out," said Michael Sherry, counsel to the Chiefs of Ontario.
Chief Charles Fox of the Nishnawbe-Aski Nation has called an emergency meeting of Ontario chiefs and regional leaders to be held in Thunder Bay on Thursday to discuss how the native bands can fight the proposal. Already the Nishnawbe-Aski Nation has an application in the Ontario Court, General Division, to declare the allocation of the lands in Northern Ontario illegal because the government failed to consult with the bands, which have treaty rights in the North.
The opposition from the native communities contrasted with the positive reception the agreement announced yesterday received from those who had participated in drawing it up, including forest companies, mining interests and environmental groups.
The agreement, which marks the biggest expansion of parks and protected areas in Ontario's history, gives the province 378 new parks and protected areas totalling 2.4 million hectares. It also assures forest companies of guaranteed wood supplies, aids prospectors, provides access to resources to mining companies and gives money to encourage more hunting and fishing
The agreement was announced with great fanfare in Sudbury yesterday by Premier Mike Harris, who is being given much of the credit for forcing the diverse interests to overcome their antipathy and work out a deal. "The people of Ontario now own 9.5 million hectares of parks and protected land, equivalent to all of Southern Ontario south of Algonquin Park," Mr. Harris said.
Agreement on the massive expansion of parks and protected lands in Northern Ontario was achieved in part through a government promise to spend $53-million to help forest companies, mining firms and prospectors. The forest companies will benefit from $21.5-million that will be used to cover the loss of existing forest roads and bridges, improve the quality and quantity of wood supply, and encourage the manufacturing of value-added wood products, Natural Resources Minister John Snobelen said.
The government will spend $19-million to help mining companies, primarily through an intensive two-year geological survey. It is intended to "uncover specific locations for prospectors and exploration companies to focus their activities in their search for new mines," Northern Development Minister Chris Hodgson said. Prospectors will be assisted by the infusion of $4-million to the Ontario Prospectors Assistance Program. This program, which currently spends about $2-million to fund 200 prospectors, is designed to stimulate grassroots exploration and prospecting in Ontario.
Anglers and hunters will benefit from $7-million that will be spent on improved fish and wildlife resource planning and to enhance access to hunting and fishing. The Lands for Life announcement received support from a broad spectrum of interests. Raymond Royer, president and chief executive officer of Domtar, praised the agreement for providing forest companies with certainty about the size of their future wood supplies.
GREAT LAKES SUSTAINABLE WATERS WATCH # 3Great Lakes United,
Week of August 25, 2000
ALL GREAT LAKES WATER USE LAWS MAY BE REFORMED
The premiers and governors of the Great Lakes provinces and states are nearing agreement on changing basin water laws so that water use proposals are judged by their effects on the ecosystem. Their hope is to provide a better basis than current law for defeating proposals to export or divert bulk water out of the Great Lakes basin. Current state and provincial water use laws are designed to prevent harm to other users of water, with little consideration given to the effects of water use projects on plant or animal life. In some jurisdictions this purpose is not even enforced through government permitting, but by "common law" - non-statutory general principles enforced in the courts.
The provincial/state effort would change all that. A draft of the proposal released by Gov. John Engler of Michigan lays out the basic guidelines that would be used for assessing proposed new or increased "withdrawals" of water from anywhere in the basin water system:
"The aforementioned agreement(s) will include a standard that no
State or Province will allow a new or increased withdrawal of the
Waters of the Great Lakes Basin unless the applicant for the withdrawal
establishes that its proposal, together with any existing use being
The combination of points A and B is rare in environmental law. Wetlands protection and some other environmental laws sometimes require improvements to make up for permitted damage. But this proposal would require *both* no significant damage *and* improvement in order to obtain a water use permit.
Unfortunately, this potential advance is substantially undermined by the proposal's definition section, which declares "improvement" to mean that the "adverse impacts of any proposed withdrawal . . . are outweighed by the beneficial, restorative impacts of any associated conservation, enhancement, or restoration measures undertaken by, or on behalf of, the withdrawer." That is, government agencies judging proposed damaging uses could be given wide latitude to weigh degrees of (allegedly not "significant") harm against degrees of (sometimes very speculative) improvement. Furthermore, the definition does not require that the improvements be strictly related to the water system, making far-removed efforts such as park maintenance eligible as improving activities.
The new system is being proposed as an amendment to the Great Lakes Charter, a 1985 nonbinding document signed by the states and provinces that, among other things, provides for consultations among the jurisdictions on proposals to divert more than 5 million gallons of water a day out of the Great Lakes basin.
Among other important provisions, the governors and premiers' proposal would make the new elements of the charter binding and formally include the public in future water-related decision-making.
For a copy of the draft proposal and a more detailed critique by Great Lakes United, email Reg Gilbert at email@example.com.The proposal must be changed in a number of ways to successfully protect the basin from export and diversion proposals that are sure to increase in number and seriousness as the continent gets drier in coming decades:
The governors and premiers need to know that the public is watching and concerned that they take strong action. The proposal they are now considering, potentially the most sweeping change in regional environmental law in a generation, will be finalized late next month. Please call or write your chief executive by September 15 urging him to push for and sign a strong agreement to reform the Great Lakes basin's water use laws:Ontario -- Premier Mike Harris, Office of the Premier, Legislative Building, Queen's Park, Toronto ON M7A 1A1, (416) 325-1941
Great Lakes Sustainable Waters Watch is produced by Great Lakes United's Sustainable Waters Task Force with support from the Joyce Foundation and the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation. The task force is committed to protecting and restoring the natural quantity and flow of water in the Great Lakes - St. Lawrence River ecosystem. To subscribe or send stories, contact Reg Gilbert at firstname.lastname@example.org , (716) 886-0142; fax: -0303. Visit us on the Web or join Great Lakes United at http://www.glu.org .
Buffalo State College, Cassety Hall
1300 Elmwood Ave., Buffalo, NY, 14222
Great Lakes groups release "Agenda" for state / provincial water use.
GREAT LAKES SUSTAINABLE WATERS WATCH # 5
Great Lakes United, week of December 15, 2000
Five Great Lakes environmental groups have released a plan that calls on the governors and premiers around the Great Lakes to take specific steps to safeguard the region from proposals to export and diversion water. The basin's state and provincial governments have been meeting for a year to negotiate a solution for the problem.
The plan, "Water Use and Ecosystem Restoration: An Agenda for the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River Basin," is available in various formats at http://www.glu.org.
Legal opinions commissioned by the states have said that making water conservation and environmental protection the basis of the region's water use law would dramatically strengthen the area's ability to defend against future export and diversion proposals. Otherwise, international trade and domestic constitutional law might limit what state and provincial governments can do to prevent such proposals.
Among dozens of bullet points in eleven categories, the groups recommend that state and provincial governments:
The agenda also recommends that the U.S. and Canadian federal governments provide a constitutionally valid mechanism to enable vigorous state, provincial and tribal cooperation in waters protection.
"Time is slipping away," declared Reg Gilbert, senior coordinator for Great Lakes United. "A golden opportunity to prevent export and diversion of Great Lakes water to the rest of the United States and the world is being squandered. The governors and premiers need to reach an agreement and start to work."
"The best way to protect Great Lakes water is to assure that we use it sensibly and conserve it," said Tim Eder, director of the National Wildlife Federation's Great Lakes office. "That's what our agenda calls for and what the governors and premiers must do to ensure that our waters are pure, plentiful and free enough to meet the needs of both people and wildlife."
Noted Canadian Environmental Law Association coordinator Sarah Miller, "After the failed 1998 Nova Group export proposal, the state, provincial and federal governments promised action. But almost three years later they have still done nothing. Our water use agenda shows the governors, premiers, and federal governments what they need to do."
"No other Great Lakes issue impassions citizens and voters more than the prospect of Great Lakes water being drained away," said Cameron Davis, executive director of the Lake Michigan Federation. "With demand for fresh surface water increasing around the country and the world, we need to practice the water conservation measures we preach."
Said Marc Hudon of Strat�gies St-Laurent, "It is imperative that Qu�bec and the shoreline communities of the St. Lawrence River play a strong role in protecting Great Lakes - St. Lawrence River water levels."
Great Lakes Sustainable Waters Watch is produced by Great Lakes
United's Sustainable Waters Task Force with support from the Charles
Stewart Mott Foundation, the Hahn Family Foundation, and the Joyce
Foundation. The task force is dedicated to protecting and restoring
the natural quantity and flow of water in the Great Lakes - St. Lawrence
River ecosystem. To subscribe or send stories, contact Reg Gilbert
at email@example.com or (716) 886-0142,
or by fax at -0303. Visit us on the Web or join Great Lakes United
Great Lakes groups release "Agenda" for state / provincial water use.
New Curbs on Great Lakes Water Exports
OTTAWA, Canada, February 7, 2001 (ENS) - Governments on both sides of the Great Lakes are acting to prevent or limit bulk water removal from the cross border waterways.
Siphoning water for export is one of the most significant threats facing the lakes. Lake Ontario, Lake Michigan, Lake Erie, Lake Superior and Lake Huron are already under pressure from climate change and industrial, agricultural, and municipal misuse.
The Great Lakes have become cleaner in the last decade, as this photo on the shores of Lake Michigan illustrates. But the lakes face new threats posed by climate change and bulk water removal.
Projections of climate change effects on the Great Lakes indicate a possible two foot (36 centimeters) drop in average water levels within 30 years.
Three consecutive warm, dry winters have led to the waters of Lake Superior dropping two feet below the long term average for February to their lowest level since 1926, according to information released by the Army Corps of Engineers Tuesday.
The five lakes provide drinking water to more than 25 million people in the U.S. and Canada and contain almost 20 percent of the Earth's fresh water. Their size alone is attractive to companies wanting to export fresh water, and industries seeking to harness power by either diverting lake water or draining wetlands.
These threats appear to have galvanized Canadian and U.S. authorities. In the U.S., governors from the eight Great Lakes States announced a proposal, Tuesday, that would tighten restrictions on use of Great Lakes water.
Meanwhile in Ottawa, the Canadian government reintroduced amendments to the International Boundary Waters Treaty Act (IBWTA) that will prohibit the bulk removal of water from Canadian boundary waters, including the Great Lakes.
The amendments were originally tabled in 1999 but failed to make it through parliament before Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien called an early election last fall.
Canada's parliament passed the IBTWA in 1911. It implements the 1909 Canada-U.S. Boundary Waters Treaty, which establishes principles and procedures for preventing or settling disputes, particularly regarding the quantity and quality of boundary waters between Canada and the United States. More than 300 lakes and rivers straddle the Canada-U.S. border.
In Canada, the prohibition on removals will apply principally to the Great Lakes and other boundary waters, such as the international sections of the St. Lawrence River and Lake of the Woods in Ontario and the St. Croix and Upper St. John rivers in New Brunswick.
Aside from the prohibition, the amendments will establish a licensing regime for boundary waters projects such as dams, obstructions or other works.
"These amendments will protect the Great Lakes from bulk water removal under federal law," said John Manley, Minister of Foreign Affairs. "We are taking a decisive step to ensure that this critical freshwater resource is protected for future generations."
The Canadian amendments are the last step in a three part strategy announced in February 1999 to prohibit bulk water removals from all Canadian water basins.
The north shore of Lake Superior in Minnesota. Lake waters have dropped two feet below the long term average for February to their lowest level since 1926, according to figures released yesterday.
Prohibition was favored over an export ban because of potential challenges that could be made under international trade agreements. If water is protected from removal, the issue of exporting does not arise.
The amendments allow exceptions to the prohibition for short-term humanitarian purposes and water used in the production of food or drinks.
South of the border, the Council of Great Lakes Governors is proposing new restrictions on the use of water from the Great Lakes. The Council is a non-partisan partnership of the governors of the eight Great Lakes states - Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.
It formed in 1983 to tackle environmental and economic challenges and has since included the Canadian premiers of Ontario and Quebec in its membership.
Under its latest proposal, homeowners, municipalities, farmers and businesses would not be allowed to start pumping, or increase their pumping, of Great Lakes water or any lake, river or groundwater from the Great Lakes basin unless they could meet four new tests.
Bottling plants, beer makers, and power plants would be among the businesses affected.
Those tests include proving they would employ every water conservation tool available and proving that their withdrawal of water would not harm the quality or the quantity of the groundwater, lakes, rivers, and wetlands in the basin.The proposal could also affect whether those outside the Great Lakes basin could use Great Lakes water. It recommends new criteria for a potential exporter to meet, including:
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says conditions in Lake Erie have improved dramatically since ... the 1970s.
These initiatives follow last year's International Joint Commission (IJC) report that concluded that the ecological integrity of the Great Lakes needed protection. The IJC is a binational organization established by the 1909 Boundary Waters Treaty. It assists the Canadian and U.S. governments in managing waters along the border for the benefit of both countries. The IJC's report emphasized that removals and diversions of water from the Great Lakes basin represents a permanent loss of water, and must be managed differently from uses of water within the basin.
All Rights Reserved.
Protect the Great Lakes from water diversions &
Right now Gov. Engler, DEQ, and the Gas and Oil Assoc are also trying to lift the Moratorium on drilling in the Great Lakes. Some decent members of the US House & Senate, and several states are working to ban drilling.
In Michigan, there isn't enough oil to risk it. With a multi billion dollar tourism and sport fishing industry, for those crunching numbers, that is the State's economy at risk.
Just one quart of oil can contaminate up to 2 million gallons of drinking water. Four quarts can cause an oil slick approximately 8 acres in size. Not on my beaches they don't.
In addition, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) actively promotes oil and gas drilling in the Great Lakes and does not provide strict, objective, regulatory oversight. In fact, the oil wells near Manistee regularly have problems. (This Dept. was created by this Governor to circumvent environmental laws!)
The State has no comprehensive energy policy that promotes renewable energy, conversation and efficiency. In fact, they could care less.
Please write me at Millerk14@aol.com for specific legislative information if these sites do not provide what you are looking for.
Additional info I can provide:
List of Contacts for People concerened about the issue
MI Environmental Science Board's Directional Drilling Report (With recommendations)
Two Muskegon Chronicle Editorials about Directional Drilling Gongwer Report on EPIC-MRA Poll
Gongwer Report on DNR considering Oil Drilling under the Great Lakes DNR Letter summarizing Department activity on oil and gas leasing programBills
HCR 15/SCR 10
HB 4467/SB 9
More Great Lakes drilling possible
April 11, 2001
by Associated Press
As President Bush calls for more domestic oil and natural gas drilling, some people are looking to the Great Lakes, the nation's largest supply of freshwater, as a possible power source.
A small amount of oil and gas already is being extracted from seven sites along the Michigan shoreline. The eight Great Lakes states have kept energy companies from digging for more, but Michigan and Ohio officials now are discussing changing their policies.
"The fact is there is an energy shortage out there and the technology is out there," said Lynne Boyd of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. "The time is now."
Environmentalists say the lakes should not be threatened for what could turn out to be a relatively small amount of oil and gas. They say a drilling accident could foul drinking water supplies for millions and disrupt fishing, tourism and other industries.
"We don't need to be causing environmental damage to our Great Lakes for a short-term solution," said Tanya Cabala of the Lake Michigan Federation. "And really it will be the oil companies that will benefit from it, it won't be the people."
The debate over drilling in the Great Lakes is not new, but there are new pressures as Bush warns of an impending energy shortage.
Environmentalists and their friends in Congress strongly oppose the president's plan to drill in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska, so the Bush administration has been looking elsewhere. Protected lands in the Rocky Mountains are now under consideration.
Experts believe there are between 5.6 billion and 16 billion barrels of oil under the Alaskan refuge, and perhaps enough natural gas under the Rockies to supply the country for six years.
No one is sure how much is under the Great Lakes.
Since the first well was drilled under Lake Michigan in 1979, only 438,000 barrels of oil and 17.7 billion cubic feet of natural gas have been produced, a fraction of what is produced in the United States each day.
Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham has not said whether he supports Great Lakes drilling, though he opposed it last year when he campaigned for the Senate in Michigan, where opinion polls show most voters don't like the idea. When asked about it during his confirmation hearing, Abraham would only say it's important to balance energy needs with environmental concerns.
The Great Lakes states � New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Illinois, Michigan, Indiana, Wisconsin and Minnesota � do not allow drilling from rigs on the water, although Canada allows some drilling on its side.
It is up to each state to decide whether to allow drilling to reach deposits under the lake from the shore. Michigan is the only state that allows it.
Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Mich., has introduced legislation to impose a federal ban on such drilling. But he said the House Republican leadership will not let him have a hearing.
"As the energy crisis increases, there is going to be more and more demand for our lakes," he said. "This is not just federal bureaucrats dealing with this, this is a real issue that has to be resolved."
Report says First Nations have been approached to export water
OTTAWA (CP) - Some First Nations groups have been approached by brokers talking up multimillion-dollar schemes to export water from treaty lands, says a report obtained under Access to Information law.
But experts who debated freshwater exports at a 1998 symposium didn't reach consensus on whether aboriginals have the right to export water from reserves, a summary of the discussion suggests. "Panelists were informed that some First Nations groups have already been approached by brokers looking to export water," says the report by consulting firm Thompson Gow and Associates of Toronto.
"Concern was raised that poor communities were being offered multimillion-dollar deals that would be hard to resist."
The expert panel included Owen Saunders of the Canadian Institute of Resources Law, political scientist John Crispo of the University of Toronto, and Henry Lickers, a leading aboriginal environmentalist.
The summary says there was "much discussion, sometimes heated, on the issue of First Nations ownership of water," but doesn't say who took which position.
No details are given on the water-export proposals or what became of them, but it is clear that government officials have been taking the issue seriously.
Control over natural resources is one of the most sensitive issues between Canada and its 600 First Nations, although disputes so far have focused on other resources such as lobsters, timber and minerals.
A legal study obtained under the same access request raises the possibility that some First Nations could become involved in water-export proposals in the Great Lakes basin.
"Experience in relation to other resources such as oil and gas, timber and minerals suggests that some aboriginal communities may wish to be involved in water removal proposals as partners or proponents."
Such a proposal could involve a conflict between provincial laws, federal laws, and treaty rights.
Provinces own water in their boundaries, the federal government has responsibility for "Indians, and lands reserved for Indians," while aboriginals claim rights over their traditional lands.
No comment on the issue could be obtained from the Department of Indian Affairs or the Assembly of First Nations.
With Lakes Drilling
By Nedra Pickler
Sept. 25, 2001
WASHINGTON (AP) Legislation to prevent new oil and gas drilling under the Great Lakes appears to be constitutional, according the Congressional Research Service.
Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., requested the review of her amendment to ban new oil and gas drilling under the Great Lakes for the next two years.
The measure is aimed at preventing Republican Gov. John Engler of Michigan from allowing more slant drilling under the Great Lakes from the state's shoreline.
When the Senate added Stabenow's amendment to a water projects spending bill two months ago, Engler's office questioned whether Congress has the constitutional authority to stop the states from issuing a drilling permit.
The Congressional Research Service, a nonpartisan branch of the Library of Congress, said it appears Congress would have the authority under Supreme Court rulings concerning the regulation of interstate commerce.
The Constitution says that Congress has the power to regulate commerce with other nations and among the states.
The service said oil and gas would be sold and transported between the states. It also said Congress may have authority because the drilling may impact the environment.
Stabenow released the decision Tuesday as a committee of members from the House and Senate prepared to meet on the legislation and pass a version for President Bush to sign.
Engler spokeswoman Susan Shafer said even if Stabenow's amendment is constitutional, the governor still opposes federal legislation that restricts drilling.
"Our feeling on this has always been this is an issue that needs to be dealt with in the state of Michigan and not on a federal level," she said.
The Great Lakes states New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Illinois, Michigan, Indiana, Wisconsin and Minnesota do not allow drilling from rigs on the water. Michigan is the only state that allows directional drilling to reach deposits under the lake from the shore.
"We have one governor who's going against the wishes of all the other governors and wanting to drill," Stabenow said. "Any kind of accident or spill has the potential to impact people all over the Great Lakes states."
The Detroit News (11/18) Despite uncertain oil and gas deposits, the threat of surface leaks and federal legislation banning any new drilling for the next two years, Gov. John Engler is not yet willing to abandon his effort to expand energy exploration under the Great Lakes.http://www.detnews.com/2001/metro/0111/19/b01-346460.htm
President Bush has bypassed Congress to install five officials, including a top aide to Gov. John Engler whose appointment to a job overseeing Great Lakes issues was facing opposition.
Dennis L. Schornack will serve as commissioner and chairman of the International Joint Commission for the United States and Canada. Bush announced the appointments Friday at the start of a long Easter weekend on his Texas ranch. Bush installed the officials as recess appointments, avoiding Senate confirmation by putting them in their jobs while Congress was on a break. Such appointments are valid through the next session of Congress, in this case the end of next year.
Each was nominated "to fill a critical position in the administration that can no longer go unoccupied," said White House spokesman Gordon Johndroe.
At issue was Schornack's opposition to a federal ban on Great Lakes drilling. U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., who helped push through the ban, had said she wasn't sure how hard Schornack would work with Canadian officials to implement it.
A message seeking comment was left Saturday with Stabenow's office in Washington.
Seventeen Democratic state House members sent a letter to Stabenow and U.S. Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., last year urging them to withhold their support of Schornack's nomination. The letter was written by Rep. Julie Dennis, D-Muskegon.
"I think it's the wrong move for the Great Lakes State, and the reason being is that he's a purely political individual," Dennis said Saturday. "He is not about what is best for the Great Lakes."
Engler sharply criticized the federal ban because he said it lets the federal government interfere with an issue that should be left up to the states and Canadian provinces surrounding the lakes. Schornack echoed that criticism.
"I am especially pleased that the IJC will be headed by a person who understands so well the issues surrounding the Great Lakes and their importance to Michigan," Engler said in a statement.
The Republican governor had been prepared to have the state issue more leases for oil and gas wells that drill from shore under the Great Lakes until the federal ban was passed and signed into law by Bush as part of a budget bill.
The federal law bans federal agencies from issuing permits for new drilling through September 2003 to study the environmental effects.
Legislation to prohibit new drilling for oil and natural gas under Michigan's portion of the Great Lakes was sent to Engler earlier this month.
As Engler's special adviser for strategic initiatives, Schornack has advised Engler on directional drilling under the Great Lakes and on possible political repercussions if tax breaks were granted for a water-bottling plant in Mecosta County owned by The Perrier Group of America Inc.
A message seeking comment was left Saturday at Schornack's office in Lansing.
27 November 2002
Six water pipelines being considered in
Midwest Treaty Network