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Higgins Asks for Status Update on Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement

Jun 20, 2012
Press Release

Congressman Brian Higgins took to the House Floor today to urge the State Department to finalize an update to the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement. The renegotiated agreement was scheduled to have been released this spring.

“Protecting our Great Lakes is a key to our economic future,” said Congressman Higgins, a member of the Great Lakes Task Force. “Any steps to address the environmental quality of this unique natural resource should be taken sooner, rather than later. We can’t afford to delay.” 
The Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement, first signed in 1972, is a formal agreement between the United States and Canada to restore and protect the Great Lakes and prevent pollution. The agreement has been renegotiated twice, in 1978 and 1987; the third revision process began in 2009. The latest revision is expected to include greater enforcement measures and account for new threats related to climate change, invasive species, and ballast water.
Last week, Congressman Higgins sent a letter along with 9 of his Congressional colleagues in the Great Lakes region asking Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for a status update on the agreement and emphasizing the importance of swift action on putting forth new protections for the Great Lakes. 
Congressman Higgins also sent a letter to Secretary Clinton proposing Buffalo as a location for the bilateral signing ceremony for the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement because of its strong economic and historical ties to Lake Erie.

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The text of Congressman Higgins’ speech is below:
Mr. Speaker, 
The Great Lakes are our most threatened national asset. Yet, they are the largest source of fresh water in the world and account for $7 billion in economic activity annually. 

In my Western New York community, the resurgence of our Inner and Outer Harbors along Lake Erie is an important reminder of the relationship between the health of the Great Lakes and our region’s economic future. 

The State Department is finalizing a revision to the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement with Canada. This important agreement expresses a joint commitment to protecting and restoring the Great Lakes ecosystem.

Mr. Speaker, I recently joined my Congressional colleagues in the Great Lakes region in asking the State Department for the status of this agreement and have offered to host a signing ceremony between the United States and Canada in Buffalo, New York. 

It is more important than ever before to affirm our commitment to protecting the health of our waterways.