Gov. Ridge Completes Tenure as Chairman of Council of Great Lakes Governors
Source: 
Pennsylvania Office of the Governor

>    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
   Lakes;
   -- 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
decisions.
    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
Annex.
    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
region.
    "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
work.
    "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
offices."
    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
said.
    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.

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