Great Lakes Water Issues Are a Concern
“The agreement between Canada and U.S. kind of lays out how we are going to move forward, but the agreement isn’t like any treaty. The agreement empowers states and other agencies to provide incentives for tougher regulations, policies, and procedures within federal law. So, I guess what it can do is provide momentum and serve as a focusing mechanism on new programs,” said Taylor.
The GLEC has empowered 10 “annexes” or committees to work on separate aspects of the lakes’ water quality. In conjunction with this is the goal of establishing protocol for chemical management strategies for chemicals of mutual concern (CMC) by both countries. According to Taylor, advocates of ‘safer’ chemicals in the Great Lakes region have singled out certain chemical substances for chemical
substitutions (i.e, outright replacement). Advocates refer to toxic chemicals of “emerging concern in addition to legacy compounds.” The process for compiling the final list is just now getting underway. Yet to be established are procedures to “implement programs to manage CMCs that apply principles of ‘virtual elimination’ and ‘zero discharge.’”
Linking safer chemical regulation with water quality regulation could lead to some major changes in the way that agricultural operations are overseen and eliminate agricultural tools and technology. Money to advocate and investigate big changes has been and can continue to be funneled through the EPA for GLC and committee activity without asking Congress for authority or congressional funding stipulated specifically for this activity.
At the same time as the water quality issues of the Great Lakes are becoming hotter than in the recent past, there is new emphasis about chemical safety. In the U.S. Congress, the reauthorization or rewriting of the 20-year old U.S.
Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) is being scheduled for formal debate.
According to the Council of Great Lakes Industries (CGLI) of which MACA is a member, there are at least 21 federal legislative and regulatory programs in place “that require registration, reporting of use and release of information and data on environmental fate and effects associated with chemicals.”
But what also is occurring is several state legislatures and their EPAs are looking at having their own safe chemical lists and procedures for establishing those lists. Some of those states are wanting to take a precautionary approach where a chemical can be declared highly unsafe without science and risk analysis.