Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox announced the continuation of his efforts to protect Michigan's Great Lakes by advocating for additional improvements to the Annex 2001 implementing agreements. The most recent drafts of the agreements include key changes called for by Cox in 2004, including improved protection of states' rights to prohibit diversions of Great Lakes water.
“I am encouraged to see that the Council has returned to many of the principles of Annex 2001 as I called for in my comments on the first draft," said Cox. "I am concerned, however, that the revised agreements still fall short of the promise of Annex 2001: to provide a simple, durable, and efficient Great Lakes water management system. The best way to protect Michigan's most treasured natural resource is to retain and respect states' authority."
In an August 26 letter to the Council of Great Lakes Governors, Cox commended the new drafts for preserving more of the states' current power under federal law to prohibit diversions of Great Lakes water out of the Basin. He also praised the revised agreements for entrusting the regulation of more intrastate withdrawals to the sovereign authority of the states.
Despite the improvements, Cox said, three main areas of concern remain. First, the revised compact would still undermine Michigan's current authority to protect the Great Lakes from diversions. Second, as the only state wholly within the Basin, the agreements would infringe on Michigan's sovereignty disproportionately. Finally, the compact would give extensive powers and immunities to the Great Lakes Basin Water Resources Council that go beyond its role as a multi-state agency.
Cox expressed his concerns in an August 26 letter as part of the second round of public comment on the Annex 2001 implementation agreements drafted by the Council of Great Lakes Governors. The implementation agreements consist of an interstate Water Resources Compact between the eight Great Lakes states--Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and
Wisconsin--and a state-provincial document known as the Sustainable Water Resources Agreement that pertains to the states and two Canadian provinces, Ontario and Quebec. The most recent draft reflects revisions to the Annex 2001 proposals released July 2004. If adopted by the legislature, these agreements would provide a decision-making standard for future, new, or increased water use in the Great Lakes Basin.