An agreement to safeguard the Great Lakes may face a challenge in Washington. Lawmakers in Ohio and Pennsylvania have yet to approve the Great Lakes Compact , but many advocates are already thinking ahead to the next hurdle: approval by the U.S. Congress. Keith Reopelle with the group Clean Wisconsin thinks that will happen, given what's at stake. "There have actually been very real proposals . . . for China to access Great Lakes water, which tells you what a precious commodity it is," says Reopelle. "It's really in the entire country's interest to leave the management of the Great Lakes waters in the hands of the Great Lakes states, and not let it become a free for all."
Even though the delegations from the eight Great Lakes states are outnumbered in Congress, Reopelle expects the other delegations will sign off on the compact. Action in Washington may not be far off. "As more states ratify the compact, it's going to put tremendous increased pressure on those who have not," says Reopelle. Legislatures in Wisconsin and Michigan approved the compact last week, and governors Jim Doyle and Jennifer Granholm are expected to sign those bills into law.