Gov. Ridge Completes Tenure as Chairman of Council of Great Lakes Governors

>    NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y., June 18 /PRNewswire/ -- Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge


today chaired the Council of Great Lakes Governors 2001 Leadership Summit, as


governors and the premiers of Ontario and Quebec signed the "Great Lakes


Charter Annex," a guide for long-term water management for the Great Lakes.


    The Annex identifies the principles of a new resource-based conservation


standard under which states would review water-withdrawal proposals.


    "Those of us who live and work on the Great Lakes appreciate our lakes as


valuable environmental and economic resources," Gov. Ridge said.  "In addition


to recreation and navigation, our lakes provide us with an abundance of fresh


water that also attracts the interest of others.


    "The challenges we face as governors or premiers do not stop at our


borders, particularly with the waters of the Great Lakes.  As we face new


challenges in protecting our vital water resources, we need a road map or,


more appropriately, a `lighthouse' to guide states and provinces in a world


where fresh water is in greater demand.


    "As part of our continuing effort to protect, conserve, restore and


improve the Great Lakes, we sign the Charter Annex today to make sure our


water is used wisely and effectively -- to protect these great waters for our


children and their children."


    The Annex calls for six steps that need to be taken:

   -- Develop a new set of binding agreements between the states and


   provinces on specific standards;


   -- Develop a broad-based public-participation program within the Great


   Lakes;


   -- Establish a new decision-making standard;


   -- Conduct project reviews under the Water Resources Development Act


   of 1986 (amended in 2000) in consultation with the provinces;


   -- Develop a decision-support system that ensures the best available


   information; and


   -- Explore further commitments to coordinate the implementation and


   monitoring of this agreement.

    There has been significant interest by local, regional, federal and


international parties on how the Great Lakes water is managed.


    The Great Lakes Charter of 1985 and the Water Resources Development Act of


1986 both are tools currently used by the governors for Great Lakes water


management.  Over the life of the two documents, the review process has been


refined and become more rigorous to assure the protection of the Great Lakes


ecosystem, including water quality and quantity.


    Criticisms of the current review process are the non-binding nature of the


Charter and the lack of a standard for Water Resources Development Act


decisions.


    At the previous council meeting, the governors of the eight Great Lakes


states announced their intention to develop a new agreement and a new standard


for review of water withdrawals to strengthen their collective management of


the Great Lakes, together with the premiers of Ontario and Quebec.


    The Annex is the first step in the process.  The governors and premiers


now will begin developing a set of more binding agreements as agreed to in the


Annex.


    Pennsylvania is looking at additional tools needed to manage water


statewide after a just-completed series of statewide water forums to get input


from the public on the issue.


    Gov. Ridge also today announced that Pennsylvania has joined the Great


Lakes of North America (GLNA) tourism initiative.  The GLNA, an arm of the


Council of Great Lakes Governors, was created in 1990 to encourage and


stimulate travel and tourism to its member states and provinces.


    The GLNA focuses on two of the largest markets for inbound tourism:  the


German market (Germany, Switzerland and Austria) and the United Kingdom.  The


GLNA operates out of its headquarters in Chicago, and has trade offices in


Warwickshire, England, and Dusseldorf, Germany.


    "Pennsylvania today joined the Great Lakes tourism initiative primarily to


support Northwestern Pennsylvania tourism by using one of our finest


attractions -- our great Lake Erie," Gov. Ridge said.


    "From the shores of Presque Isle -- to the Historic Brig Niagara and Erie


Maritime Museum -- to the art galleries and museums of Discovery Square --


Erie's scenic waterfront truly is the crown jewel of the community and the


region.


    "And Erie's new cruise terminal, now under construction, will provide the


city with another world-class facility -- a magnificent gateway that will


enable the region to attract even more of the tens of thousands of tourists


who cruise the Great Lakes each year.  By joining the Great Lakes of North


America tourism initiative, we support our new cruise-boat terminal.


    "And we will draw more international travelers to experience Pennsylvania


memories that last a lifetime."


    Gov. Ridge, who has served as Chairman of the Council of Great Lakes


Governors since 1996, today passed the gavel to the new Chairman, Ohio Gov.


Bob Taft.


    As Chairman of the Council of Great Lakes Governors, Gov. Ridge launched


bold new environmental and economic initiatives.


    The Governor began his tenure as Chairman by calling for a new Great Lakes


regional brownfields initiative to promote the cleanup and reuse of abandoned


industrial sites -- to build on the success of Pennsylvania's program, which


has cleaned up more than 850 sites, where more than 25,000 Pennsylvanians now


work.


    "As Chairman, I wanted our states and provinces to work together to clean


up brownfields," Gov. Ridge said.  "Our states and provinces worked together


to share experiences and ideas on how to turn real-estate liabilities into


assets -- and how to transform brownfields from eyesores to opportunities."


    These efforts and ideas were shared and distributed through the


publication "A Blueprint for Brownfield Redevelopment" -- a guidebook that


helps landowners find the resources they need to help them clean up brownfield


sites.  The Council worked with the Great Lakes Commission to create the


Regional Online Brownfields Information Network (ROBIN), which serves as a


single portal to all state and provincial brownfield websites to allow


continued updates of relevant information.


    Since these programs began, all states have increased the number


of brownfields that have been redeveloped.


    He then worked to enhance the Council of Great Lakes Governors' trade


initiative and today ended his tenure by concluding negotiations on and the


signing of the Annex water agreement.


    "International trade abroad creates jobs at home," Gov. Ridge said.


"Since 1997, the Great Lakes Governors have expanded the number of shared


trade offices from two to five.  We now have offices in Canada, Argentina,


Brazil, Chile and South Africa that are helping small- and medium-sized


companies export our products to these markets.


    "The Great Lakes shared trade office is the only successful shared trade


office model in the country and has become an example for planned shared trade


offices."


    In 1997, the Council of Great Lakes Governors created a nationally


recognized program called the Great Lakes Guarantee, a pledge that the Great


Lakes states would work together to ensure that workers have the skills they


need to succeed in work.  As part of that effort, the Council of Great Lakes


Governors officially recognized new world-class metalworking skill standards


developed by a consortium of metalworking industry associations and companies


-- the National Institute of Metalworking Skills, or NIMS.  Since the first


credentials were issued after students passed the tests -- and these are not


easy to earn -- almost 50 percent of the more than 2,500 credentials certified


by NIMS were earned by students and workers in the Great Lakes states.


    One of Gov. Ridge's first goals as Chairman was to have the Great Lake


states work more closely with the premiers of Ontario and Quebec, who have


been at each Council of Great Lakes Governors Leadership Summit since 1997.


    "Only by working together can we effectively address the economic and


environmental challenges facing us in the Great Lakes Region," Gov. Ridge


said.


    The Council of Great Lakes Governors is a nonprofit, non-partisan


partnership of governors of the Great Lakes states -- Pennsylvania, Illinois,


Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio and Wisconsin.

Source:

Pennsylvania Office of the Governor

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