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110th Congress                                                   Report
                        HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
 2d Session                                                     110-863




 September 22, 2008.--Committed to the Committee of the Whole House on 
            the State of the Union and ordered to be printed


    Mr. Conyers, from the Committee on the Judiciary, submitted the 

                              R E P O R T

                        [To accompany H.R. 6577]

      [Including cost estimate of the Congressional Budget Office]

  The Committee on the Judiciary, to whom was referred the bill 
(H.R. 6577) to express the consent and approval of Congress to 
an interstate compact regarding water resources in the Great 
Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin, having considered the same, 
reports favorably thereon without amendment and recommends that 
the bill do pass.


Purpose and Summary..............................................     1
Background and Need for the Legislation..........................     2
Hearings.........................................................     5
Committee Consideration..........................................     5
Committee Votes..................................................     5
Committee Oversight Findings.....................................     5
New Budget Authority and Tax Expenditures........................     6
Congressional Budget Office Cost Estimate........................     6
Performance Goals and Objectives.................................     7
Constitutional Authority Statement...............................     7
Advisory on Earmarks.............................................     7
Section-by-Section Analysis......................................     7

                          Purpose and Summary

    H.R. 6577 effectuates the consent and approval of Congress 
to the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources 
Compact (``Compact''), which provides a structure for water 
management and protection of the water within the Great Lakes-
St. Lawrence River Basin (``Basin''). Generally, the Compact 
creates an eight-State Council for administering Compact 
oversight; fosters economic development through sustainable use 
and responsible water management; develops regional goals and 
objectives for water conservation and efficiency; strengthens 
the collection of technical data to improve State decision-
making regarding water management; with exceptions, generally 
bans new diversions of water from the Basin; and provides for 
public participation regarding Council and State actions.

                Background and Need for the Legislation

    In the face of common problems and opportunities that span 
beyond their individual boundaries, States have historically 
joined together to address regional and even national issues. 
The cooperation comes through formal agreements, such as 
interstate compacts, as well as informal collaborative 
mechanisms. States are increasingly working together in areas 
such as economic development, homeland security, environmental 
protection, natural resources management, and health care.
    Interstate compacts are contracts between two or more 
States to create an agreement adopting a certain standard, to 
cooperate on a regional or national matter to address common 
problems, to establish policy, or to promote a common 
agenda.\1\ The structures of the compacts are not mandated by 
the Federal Government, but instead are State collaborative 
approaches.\2\ They enable the States to act collectively 
outside the Federal legislative and regulatory process, thereby 
reinforcing State sovereignty while developing a fluid self-
regulatory system. They often create independent, multi-State 
governmental authorities, or commissions, that can address 
issues more effectively than State agencies or when no single 
State has encompassing jurisdiction.\3\
    \1\See Joseph F. Zimmerman, Interstate Cooperation: Compacts and 
Administrative Agreements 31 (2002).
    \2\For an overview of the efforts of State governments in promoting 
and creating interstate compacts, see
    \3\See Zimmerman, at 69-70, 73-74.
    Interstate compacts can serve several purposes. They can 
settle interstate disputes, such as boundary issues.\4\ They 
can provide for specific emergency response assistance, such as 
regional fire fighting\5\ and general emergency assistance 
services.\6\ They can promote economic development.\7\
    \4\See Georgia and South Carolina Boundary Compact, Pub. L. No. 
106-79, 113 Stat. 1307 (1999).
    \5\See Great Plains Wildland Fire Protection Compact, Pub. L. No. 
110-79, 121 Stat. 730 (2007).
    \6\See Emergency Management Assistance Compact, Pub. L. No. 104-
321, 110 Stat. 3877 (1996).
    \7\See Chickasaw Trail Economic Development Compact, Pub. L. No. 
105-145, 111 Stat. 2669 (1997).
    Before an interstate compact can become effective, it must 
be approved not only by the requisite number of States as 
outlined in the compact, but by Congress as well.
    The Basin includes the watershed of the Great Lakes and the 
St. Lawrence River upstream from Trois Rivieres, Quebec. The 
Basin includes the waters within the geographic areas 
surrounding each body of water where water drains toward the 
Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence River. The States within the 
Basin include Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, 
Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.\8\
    \8\The region also includes the Canadian provinces of Ontario and 
Quebec. The provinces are not part of the Compact because the Compact 
is among the States; however, they are part of an agreement between the 
States and the provinces to protect the water basin.
    In 1999, in response to a Canadian company proposing to 
ship water from Lake Ontario to Asia, and the fear of other 
attempts to divert water to Arizona and Western Canada, the 
Great Lakes States began to collaborate on an effort to protect 
the Basin and limit diversions from it.\9\ The States also 
viewed protection of the Basin as important to industrial, 
environmental, and recreational interests.\10\ Congress helped 
by encouraging the States to develop and implement a mechanism 
to promote water conservation and to regulate the withdrawal 
and use of the water.\11\
    \9\Dennis Cauchon, Great Lakes Compact at the Center of Great 
Debate, USA Today, Dec. 12, 2006.
    \10\Kari Lydersen, Great Lakes' Lower Water Levels Propel a Cascade 
of Hardships, Wash. Post, Jan. 27, 2008, at A4.
    \11\See Section 504 of the Water Resources Development Act of 2000 
(WRDA), which amended Section 1109(b) of the Water Resources 
Development Act of 1986 (42 U.S.C. 1962d-20(b)). The 2000 amendment, 
included in S. 2796, ``. . . encourage[d] the Great Lakes States, in 
consultation with the Provinces of Ontario and Quebec, to develop and 
implement a mechanism that provides a common conservation standard 
embodying the principles of water conservation and resource improvement 
for making decisions concerning the withdrawal and use of water from 
the Great Lakes Basin.'' Section 504, though not included in the House 
version of the Act, H.R. 4411, was agreed to by the House in 
conference. The WRDA of 2000 became Pub. L. No. 106-541.
    Pursuant to the encouragement of Congress, on June 18, 
2001, the Governors of the Great Lakes States and the Premiers 
of the Canadian Provinces of Ontario and Quebec agreed to the 
Great Lakes Charter Annex, which outlined protections for the 
Basin to improve the ecosystem and update the management of the 
Basin water.\12\ The agreement established a working group to 
develop the agreements to effectuate the purposes of protecting 
the Basin. The working group consulted with a committee 
comprised of representatives from industry, agriculture, 
shipping, municipal governments, environmental organizations, 
and others. It also met with the United States and Canadian 
Federal Governments, and the Indian tribes. It held public 
hearings and sought and received public input. Four years 
later, the working group drafted and finalized language to 
protect the Basin.
    \12\The Associated Press, Great Lakes leaders agree to set water 
diversion limits in 3 years, Grand rapids Press, June 19, 2001, at A5.
    On December 13, 2005, the Great Lakes Governors and 
Premiers of the Canadian provinces of Ontario and Quebec signed 
agreements consisting of the language drafted by the working 
group.\13\ The agreements are to be implemented in Ontario and 
Quebec through Provincial laws, and in the United States 
through the Compact. The Compact will thus be an important 
supplement to the protections currently provided under Federal 
law and the laws of the various affected States.
    \13\James Janega, States OK stopper for the Great Lakes; Pact would 
outlaw increased diversions, Chi. Trib., Dec. 13, 2005.
    On July 9, 2008, the final Great Lakes State governor 
approved the Compact.\14\ On July 23, 2008, Rep. James Oberstar 
introduced H.R. 6577, a bill granting congressional approval to 
the Compact.\15\
    \14\Tina Lam, Michigan governor signs water protection pact, Det. 
Free Press, July 9, 2008. For more information, see http://
    \15\That same day, Senator Carl Levin introduced S.J. Res. 45, 
legislation similar to H.R. 6577.
    A section-by-section of the Compact follows:
    Art. 1. Short Title, Definitions, Purposes and Duration. 
Section 1.1 provides the short title of the Compact as the 
``Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources 
Compact.'' Section 1.2 also provides definitions for the 
Compact and any supplemental or concurring legislation. Section 
1.3 lists the findings and purposes of the Compact, which 
underscore the importance of the resource to the region, the 
principles of the Compact, and the commitment to cooperative 
management of the resource for the long-term benefit of the 
    \16\The Committee does not interpret the Compact to create or 
establish that the waters of the Basin in its natural state are a 
commodity under any international trade agreement, law, or treaty.
    Art. 2. Organization. Sections 2.1 and 2.2 provide for the 
organization and administration of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence 
River Basin Water Resources Council, which shall consist of the 
Governors of the Parties ex officio. This article reiterates 
the spirit of cooperation among the States and the several 
agencies in the respective States.
    Art. 3. General Powers and Duties. Article 3 establishes 
the Council as the oversight mechanism serving to coordinate 
and facilitate the exercise of the authority of the States over 
Basin waters. Sections 3.2 and 3.3 detail Council powers and 
rules and regulations.
    Art. 4. Water Management and Regulation. Article 4 creates 
the regulatory framework for the water management systems of 
the Compact:

        Section 4.1. Describes the inventory, registration, and 
        reporting requirements for withdrawals in the Basin.

        Section 4.2. Provides the framework for water 
        conservation and efficiency programs with 
        responsibilities for program development, review and 

        Section 4.8. Generally prohibits any new or increased 

        Section 4.9. Details the conditions and requirements 
        for consideration and approval of an exception to the 
        general diversion prohibition.

        Section 4.10. Provides for the management and 
        regulation of Basin uses, and confirms the authority of 
        the respective jurisdictions to regulate the in-Basin 
        uses of the resource at their discretion.

        Section 4.11. Provides for a decision-making standard 
        for the proposals subject to management and regulation 
        outlined in Section 4.10.\17\
    \17\The Committee understands Section 4.11.2 to require that a 
withdrawal or consumptive use of Great Lakes water will be implemented 
so as to ensure that the withdrawal or consumptive use will result in 
no significant individual or cumulative adverse impacts to the quantity 
or quality of the waters and water-dependent natural resources of 
either the Basin considered as a whole or the applicable source 
watershed considered as a whole. The Committee understands that the 
States may take into consideration, when evaluating whether a proposed 
withdrawal or consumptive use is reasonable as provided in Section 
4.11.5, those impacts of a withdrawal or consumptive use on the 
quantity or quality of waters and water dependent natural resources 
that have only localized impacts which are not of import to the Basin 
or source watershed considered as a whole. The Committee understands 
Section 4.11.2 to require States, when determining whether there will 
be significant individual or cumulative adverse impacts, a) to consider 
the impacts incurred in a particular tributary or stream reach where 
those impacts are important to either the Basin or the applicable 
source watershed as a whole, and b) to make a judgment of the nature, 
degree, scope, and materiality of the impacts and the regional 
importance of those impacts to the Basin and the applicable source 

        Section 4.12. Provides for additional provisions that 
        further define the applicability of Article 4.\18\
    \18\The Committee understands Section 4.12.1 to provide for a 
minimum standard, but that Section 4.12.10 allows States to adopt more 
stringent standards for assessing permissible impacts than the standard 
set forth in the Compact.

        Section 4.14. Recognizes the Supreme Court decree of 
        Wisconsin et al. v. Illinois et al.\19\
    \19\388 U.S. 426 (1967) (the Supreme Court enjoined Illinois from 
withdrawing more than a stated number of cubic feet of water per second 
from Lake Michigan).

        Section 4.15. Establishes regular Basin-wide review 
        assessment of the totality of water withdrawals.

    Art. 5. Tribal Consultation. Article 5 establishes 
procedures for tribal participation regarding proposal reviews 
and communication with the Council.
    Art. 6. Public Participation. Article 6 establishes public 
participation procedures for Council actions and State action 
reviews of certain applications.
    Art. 7. Dispute Resolution and Enforcement. Article 7 
provides a framework for dispute resolution among the Parties 
and persons aggrieved by the Parties or Council.
    Art. 8. Additional Provisions. Article 8 reiterates that 
the Compact does not limit or diminish rights validly 
established as of the effective date of the Compact, nor affect 
common law water rights of the respective Parties. The Compact 
does not create any property rights, nor does it create or 
diminish treaty rights, nor require breach of confidentiality 
rights or obligations. The Compact contains a standard 
severability clause, and generally, once effective, the Compact 
remains in force and binding upon each Party unless terminated 
by a majority vote of the Parties.
    Art. 9. Effectuation. Article 9 provides for the 
effectuation of the Compact only upon ratification through 
concurring legislation by each jurisdiction and consent by 


    The Committee on the Judiciary held no hearings on H.R. 

                        Committee Consideration

    On July 30, 2008, the Committee met in open session and 
ordered the bill, H.R. 6577, favorably reported without 
amendment, by voice vote, a quorum being present.

                            Committee Votes

    In compliance with clause 3(b) of rule XIII of the Rules of 
the House of Representatives, the Committee advises that there 
were no recorded votes during the Committee's consideration of 
H.R. 6577.

                      Committee Oversight Findings

    In compliance with clause 3(c)(1) of rule XIII of the Rules 
of the House of Representatives, the Committee advises that the 
findings and recommendations of the Committee, based on 
oversight activities under clause 2(b)(1) of rule X of the 
Rules of the House of Representatives, are incorporated in the 
descriptive portions of this report.

               New Budget Authority and Tax Expenditures

    Clause 3(c)(2) of rule XIII of the Rules of the House of 
Representatives is inapplicable because this legislation does 
not provide new budgetary authority or increased tax 

               Congressional Budget Office Cost Estimate

    In compliance with clause 3(c)(3) of rule XIII of the Rules 
of the House of Representatives, the Committee sets forth, with 
respect to the bill, H.R. 6577, the following estimate and 
comparison prepared by the Director of the Congressional Budget 
Office under section 402 of the Congressional Budget Act of 

                                     U.S. Congress,
                               Congressional Budget Office,
                                   Washington, DC, August 11, 2008.
Hon. John Conyers, Jr., Chairman,
Committee on the Judiciary,
House of Representatives, Washington, DC.
    Dear Mr. Chairman: The Congressional Budget Office has 
prepared the enclosed cost estimate for H.R. 6577, a bill to 
express the consent and approval of Congress to an interstate 
compact regarding water resources in the Great Lakes-St. 
Lawrence River Basin.
    If you wish further details on this estimate, we will be 
pleased to provide them. The CBO staff contact is Tyler 
Kruzich, who can be reached at 226-2860.
                                           Peter R. Orszag,


        Honorable Lamar S. Smith.
        Ranking Member
H.R. 6577--A bill to express the consent and approval of Congress to an 
        interstate compact regarding water resources in the Great 
        Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin.
    H.R. 6577 would provide Congressional consent and approval 
to an interstate compact regarding water resources in the Great 
Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin. The compact--entered into by 
Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, 
Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania, as well as the Canadian provinces 
of Ontario and Quebec--would ban new diversions of water from 
the basin, subject to certain limited exceptions. No Federal 
funds would be used to approve or implement the compact. Thus, 
CBO estimates that enacting H.R. 6577 would have no impact on 
the Federal budget.
    H.R. 6577 contains no intergovernmental or private-sector 
mandates as defined in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act and 
would impose no costs on State, local, or tribal governments.
    The CBO staff contact for this estimate is Tyler Kruzich, 
who can be reached at 226-2860. The estimate was approved by 
Peter H. Fontaine, Assistant Director for Budget Analysis.

                    Performance Goals and Objectives

    The Committee states that pursuant to clause 3(c)(4) of 
rule XIII of the Rules of the House of Representatives, H.R. 
6577 provides Congressional consent to the Great Lakes-St. 
Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact, which is an 
interstate compact regarding water resources in the Great 
Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin.

                   Constitutional Authority Statement

    Pursuant to clause 3(d)(1) of rule XIII of the Rules of the 
House of Representatives, the Committee finds the authority for 
this legislation in article I, section 10, clause 3 of the 

                          Advisory on Earmarks

    In accordance with clause 9 of rule XXI of the Rules of the 
House of Representatives, H.R. 6577 does not contain any 
congressional earmarks, limited tax benefits, or limited tariff 
benefits as defined in clause 9(d), 9(e), or 9(f) of Rule XXI.

                      Section-by-Section Analysis

    The following discussion describes the bill as reported by 
the Committee.
    Sec. 1. Consent of Congress. Section 1 sets forth 
Congressional approval of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River 
Basin Water Resources Compact. Section 1 also includes the 
entire text of the compact.
    Sec. 2. Right to Alter, Amend, or Appeal. Section 2 
indicates that Congress expressly reserves the right to alter, 
amend, or repeal this Act.