New commissioners appointed to binational environment agency

By Laura Fosmire, Great Lakes Echo

The International Joint Commission, the organization responsible for advising the U.S. and Canadian governments on boundary issues of water and air quality, welcomed two members to its ranks recently.

The binational agency has significant impact on Great Lakes issues.

 Dereth Glance and Rich Moy were both appointed June 30 to represent the U.S. after approval by the U.S. Senate and nomination by President Barack Obama. They join Lana Pollack, who is the U.S. section chair, to form the three commissioners to represent the United States.

Pollack, confirmed by the Senate in June 2010, is the former head of the Michigan Environmental Council who also served as a state senator from that state.

The Canadian commissioners are Joseph Comuzzi — who chairs the Canadian section —Pierre Trépanier and Lyall Knott.  Glance, who grew up in Michigan, used to work as the executive program director for Citizens Campaign for the Environment out of New York.

“The entire Great Lakes basin has incredible challenges,” she said. “I look forward to working on issues that directly impact the St. Lawrence [River], Lake Ontario and issues with Lake Erie, such as nutrient loading.”

Moy has more than 25 years of experience in working on water policy and water management resource issues in the state of Montana. He cited years of experience working with the provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan on coal mining, reservoir operations and stream requirements.

On top, Commissioner Dereth Glance. Below, Commissioner Rich Moy. Photos: Frank Bevacqua, IJC.

“Local folks can get involved in dealing with water quality, fisheries and invasive species,” he said. “Climate change — I think there’s a great opportunity for local watershed folks and government agencies to collaborate and work together in solving these problems. I’m very humbled by the nomination and I think it’s a wonderful honor.”

Of particular interest to the commissioners, Moy said, is the water quality agreements in the Great Lakes Compact. The 2008 agreement among the governors of the Great Lakes states and two Canadian provinces protects the Great Lakes watershed.

How the states implement it has been controversial.Ohio recently faced criticism for its proposed generous water withdrawal limits under the compact.

“We are really looking forward to seeing this new water quality agreement in the Great Lakes and what role the IJC can have in implementing it,” Moy said. “I think [the IJC] needs to play a significant role and oversee all the activity that occurs under this agreement. I hope that we can implement it very effectively.”

Glance said it’s important that the U.S. and Canada monitor water quality issues and get public input wherever possible. The commission is holding its biennial meeting in Detroit this fall.

“The IJC also takes its responsibilities seriously to provide opportunities for meaningful public input at every step of the journey and address these challenges,” Glance said. “We have incredible challenges ahead of us. I look forward to advancing the solutions.”

PODCAST: The Sea Grant Files

“International Joint Commission: Two Governments, Shared Water” (6:59)
Here’s a Minnesota Sea Grant interview with the International Joint Commission’s environmental adviser Victor Serveiss about the binational agency and its priorities this year. Check out more of Minnesota’s Sea Grant Files here.

© 2011, Great Lakes Echo, Michigan State University Knight Center for Environmental Journalism.

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