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


   -- 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


    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


    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


    "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


    "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


    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


    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.

Pennsylvania Office of the Governor

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