Congresswoman Wary of National Water Commission

Congresswoman Candice Miller (MI-10) recently expressed consternation with legislation that would create a National Water Commission. The legislation, H.R. 135, was proposed by a member of Congress from the drought-stricken Southeastern United States. During a hearing in the House Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment, Miller took issue with any proposals that could seek to divert water out of the Great Lakes for use by areas that are prone to drought conditions, including the Southeast and West. Miller released the following statement:

“This hearing, and the legislation that was discussed, highlights my serious concerns and deep reservations about proposals to create a National Water Commission,” Miller said. “News reports of areas like Atlanta and in Tennessee nearly running out of water are of concern and should be addressed but recent comments by Governor Bill Richardson of New Mexico, who is also a presidential candidate, lead me to believe that there may be efforts to divert Great Lakes water out of the lakes and redistributed to other areas of the country.”

Miller continued, “I become concerned when I hear people promoting a national water policy or strategy. This is because the only logical conclusion I can come to is that such a commission is a subversive attempt to divert water from the Great Lakes to other parts of the United States. And I do not intend to let that happen!

“If states want to continue growing or support current growth, they need to follow the precedents set over many decades. And that is to deal with water issues on their own. It should not be the role of the federal government to intervene in this area which has historically been governed by states and local municipalities. Areas which have been overdeveloped must be held accountable for their actions and not be bailed out for bad decisions that have been made as they have developed their communities.

“Michiganians are very hard working people, and they do not ask for much from the federal government. We are generally considered a donor state, particularly when it comes to transportation issues. We have very few natural disasters in our state aside from an occasional tornado or major snowstorm. Yet we subsidize people to live in areas of the country that are not quite so safe and are not blessed with the abundant resources we have in Michigan.

“But I will tell you that there is a limit to that generosity. And it is drawn on the shores of the Great Lakes. The Great Lakes are our very identity and we will not allow them to be diverted. Not on my watch.”

Congresswoman Miller urges a regional approach to water issues, such as the approach taken by the Great Lakes region. The Great Lakes states have formed a compact to limit water diversions out of the Great Lakes basin.

Witnesses at the hearing represented the Environmental Protection Agency, National Wildlife Foundation, and from the states of Texas, Georgia, and Arizona. No Northeast, Mid-West, or Plains States representatives testified, a point Congresswoman Miller made in her opening statement.

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