GREAT LAKES PROTECTION PROPOSAL
PRESENTER: GPUS PLATFORM COMMITTEE
SUBJECT: Protecting the Great Lakes
BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: The first Europeans to see the Great Lakes were astonished at the size and pristine quality of these bodies of fresh water which the French called “sweet seas.” The Great Lakes contain 90% of the surface fresh water on the North American continent and provide drinking water to around 40 million people in the Great Lakes Basin. It is critical that our nation afford these lakes the protection they deserve. Unfortunately, commercial uses have often trumped ecological wisdom and have led to preventable degradation of these “sweet seas” that should never have been tolerated. At this point in time, virtually all of the Great Lakes have fish consumption advisories for one or more toxic pollutants, suffer beach closures due to sewage contamination, have decimated fisheries, and are under growing threats from invasive species! It’s long past time to enact strong protective measures. Therefore, PlatCom submits the following proposed amendment to the GP-US Platform.
PROPOSAL: Add the following paragraph on protecting the Great Lakes to the section on water under Ecological Sustainability as #10 as shown below.
Chapter III: Ecological Sustainability
Water is essential to all forms of life. The Green Party calls for an international declaration that water belongs to the Earth and all of its species. Water is a basic human right! . . . etc.
1. We need strong national and international laws to promote conservation . . . etc.
2. Greens oppose the privatization of water . . . etc.
3. Decisions about water must be based on an ecosystems . . . etc.
4. Conservation must be an essential part . . . etc.
5. Set health and sustainability water quality guidelines . . . etc.
6. Achieve a truly sustainable water policy . . . etc.
7. Oppose the disproportional political influences. . . etc.
8. Integrate land use with water use . . . etc.
9. Ensure that municipal water and water systems are . . . [currently being put forth in another proposal]
10. It is imperative that we protect the waters and shorelines of the Great Lakes, and Greens strongly urge the following actions:
- Allocate funds to help upgrade and phase out aging municipal sewage systems and treatment plants, have mandatory inspections, and allow for composting and greywater system alternatives to septic systems.
- Prohibit municipalities from dumping sewage into the Great Lakes with a “zero discharge” mandate.
- Set clear and enforceable deadlines and standards for reducing nutrient runoff from agricultural lands.
- Devise and implement a plan to stop the release of flame retardants and other toxins into the Great Lakes without further delay.
- Immediately decommission and shut down the aging Enbridge Line 5 oil and gas pipeline under the Straits of Mackinac as it poses an unacceptable risk to the waters of Lake Huron and Lake Michigan.
- Prevent the opening of a new sulfide mining district in northern Wisconsin and Michigan’s western Upper Peninsula to protect the waters of Lake Michigan and Lake Superior from the inevitable pollution that would be caused by acid mine drainage from such mining.
- Require ocean-going freighters to filter or treat their ballast water to meet high environmentally protective standards.
- Close the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal to prevent Asian carp from entering the Great Lakes.
- Stop the dumping of toxins by petroleum refineries into the Great Lakes by making it unlawful. Such dumping is currently allowed and administered by the EPA through the purchase of permits or licenses.
- Have the Federal government buy and protect more undeveloped areas of Great Lakes coastlines by designating them as National Lakeshores.
- Encourage the planting of buffer strips of vegetation to act as natural filters of toxins and contaminants, prevent erosion, and provide species habitat between waterways and developed land.