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In The News

Hydraulic Fracturing and Water Management in the Great Lakes by Nicholas Schroeck and Stephanie Karisny (footnotes in full article)

"The Great Lakes are a truly astounding natural resource. The Lakes are the largest freshwater system on earth, bordering eight American states and two Canadian provinces, and holding approximately percent of the world’s freshwater supply. About 10 percent of the United States population and 30 percent of the Canadian population live in the Great Lakes Basin, and millions of people depend upon the Lakes for drinking water supply.  The Great Lakes also support a world-class fishery, with over 250 species of fish, as well as robust tourism, transportation, and agriculture industries within the Great Lakes region. Many endangered and threatened animal species make their homes in the unique ecological environment the Great Lakes provide.

"In order to better protect and manage this massive and vastly important water resource, the eight American states and two Canadian provinces with jurisdiction over the Great Lakes entered into the Great Lakes - St. Lawrence River Basin Sustainable Water Resources Agreement in 2005.  The Agreement is between the eight Great Lakes States and Ontario and Québec, and it was implemented in Ontario and Québec through Provincial laws. In the United States, the companion Great Lakes - St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact passed through the legislatures of each state, then the United States Congress, and was signed into law by President Bush in 2008.  The Agreement and the Compact protect the Great Lakes in three important ways. First, all member parties must manage their Great Lakes water withdrawals under a common “Decision-Making Standard,” which establishes baseline practices for conservation and sustainable use.  Second, the Agreement and Compact ban most new and increased diversions of water out of the Great Lakes basin.  Finally, the Agreement and Compact require that member parties create and implement water efficiency and conservation programs and report data on these programs by specific deadlines. 

"But despite the extensive ecological and economic importance of the Great Lakes, and the formidable protection provided by the Agreement and the Compact, the integrity of this vast water resource is threatened by the practice of high-volume, slick-water hydraulic fracturing (or fracking) in the Great Lakes basin. This technique, used to “stimulate” oil and natural gas wells, allowing for increased production, requires the use of millions of gallons of water and has the potential to cause significant water depletion and aquifer contamination.  This Article will look at new ways of utilizing the Agreement and the Compact to protect the Great Lakes Basin from the environmental hazards posed by fracking."

Excerpted from Case Western Reserve Law Review. Vol. 63, Issue 4, Summer 2013

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