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Future For The Great Lakes

Last week, the United States and Canada agreed upon and signed the newly amended Great Lakes Agreement, which was last amended in 1987.

The goal of the Great Lakes Agreement is to “restore and maintain the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of the waters,” with new provisions aiming to make it easier for the United States and Canada to take direct action on threats to Great Lake water quality, and to anticipate and prevent ecological harm.

Interestingly enough, the governments consulted stockholders and independent groups which have vested interests in the Great Lakes regarding the amendments, which has resulted in many of those who surround the issue heralding the new amendments as immediate success.

There are others though, the dissidents of the situation, who view the new amendments as what they are: good plans that have a high probability of working, but are completely dependent on the implementation programs of each government.

As a direct result, the honeymoon period ended over the weekend, and all eyes are on the United States’ EPA and Canada’s Minister of the Environment to take the proper steps to implement the newly amended Great Lakes Agreement, and to take care of the lakes.

Growing concerns over the implementation of the newly amended GLA are applicable to most of the environmental policy in the United States. It simply isn’t enough to have good ideas—they must come to fruition and produce results. However, it is more difficult for some environmental policies to be implemented than others. The GLA is a perfect example: a fairly non-controversial, domestic and foreign policy is quite easy to implement, especially since the GLA was first signed in 1972.

Precedent has been established, and action has been taken. Implementing carbon taxes, or cap and trade initiatives, or even industrial efficiency standards are incredibly more difficult. Implementation is just as important as good policy, and hopefully the United States and Canada can work to implement the new GLA to its maximum capacity.

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