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by Dr. Buono in the November 10 Northern Express. While I applaud your enthusiasm embracing a market solution for global climate change and believe that this is a vital piece of the overall approach, it is almost laughable and at least naive to believe that your Representative Mr.

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When good intentions go off the rails

Robert Downes - September 15th, 2008
There was an historic moment last month which Michigan Senator Carl Levin can be proud of: the U.S. Senate passed his legislation for the Great Lakes Compact by a unanimous vote, protecting our water for all time.
Or does it?
The Compact bans the diversion of water from the Great Lakes. The agreement has already been signed by the governors of eight states along the lakes, including Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.
“Senate passage of this compact will help us protect the Great Lakes from water diversions and preserve this invaluable resource for future generations,” said Sen. Levin in a published report.
The Compact is also considered a slam-dunk for approval by the U.S. House of Representatives, and President Bush will surely sign it. Plus, the Canadian provinces of Ontario and Quebec have already passed the Compact.
“It’s looking like an unstoppable tide now,” said Cameron Davis, president of the Alliance for the Great Lakes.
So, why worry? Two words: offshore drilling.
Like the Great Lakes Compact, the struggle to limit offshore drilling involved many state and federal government units and three decades of legislation and solemn vows.
Congress has voted to ban offshore drilling on both the Atlantic and Pacific as well as in the Gulf of Mexico and coast of Florida every year since the 1980s, with the support of both Republicans and Democrats.
Why? To protect our shores from oil spills and eyesores, plain and simple.
But with the recent bump in gas prices, all of those years of work by thousands of people have been tossed to the wind by our presidential candidates and their parties. The attitude now is: “Damn right, we want offshore drilling.” And no one can seem to recall any good reasons not to clutter our shores with oil rigs and the threat of spills.
Even Barack Obama, who was initially against offshore drilling, had to backpedal to avoid political annihilation on an issue that seems like a no-brainer for voters who don’t have a clue about things like conservation.
And at the Republican Convention, a chant of “Drill! Drill! Drill!” filled the air, with few considering the consequences.
That’s why when Congress reconvenes this month, one of the first items on their agenda will be deep-sixing its commitment to protecting America‘s coastline from offshore oil rigs.
Hmmm... how about for starters, we place a few oil rigs just off West Palm Beach in Florida, the home of numerous millionaires and Rush Limbaugh? These wealthy conservatives will no doubt welcome the oil platforms with open arms.
Speaking of the new Compact, there’s even a push by some to revive the idea of drilling in the Great Lakes. Why divert our water when we can gum it up with an oil spill instead? Fortunately, no one seems to be taking this idea too seriously, although directional drilling under the lakes from the shore seems to be getting a fresh look.
So, we can all hope that the Great Lakes are safe for all time from water diversion schemes. They comprise 90 percent of the fresh surface water in the United States, yet less than one percent of their mass is renewed each year.
But will anyone be surprised if 20 years from now, our future presidential candidates demand the diversion of our waters to save the parched West from the effects of global warming? Will anyone be surprised if at a future political convention, the delegates are hammering the air and chanting: “Divert! Divert! Divert!”
Who will stand in the way?
Like with offshore drilling, the good reasons for protecting a valuable resource may someday be lost to serve a political agenda that no one has the courage to refute.
But victory is no time to fret about such things. Let’s raise a glass of that good Great Lakes drinking water and toast a fine agreement while it lasts.

 
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