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TEACH: Great Lakes Law & Policy

table of contents
Introduction
Canadian Government: History and Organization
U.S. Government: History and Organization
Binational Agreements and Treaties
Canadian and U.S. Laws and Agreements
Resources and More Information

Great Lakes basin map. Click for larger image. The Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River system is the world's largest body of freshwater, containing one-fifth of the world's surface freshwater. The system borders two countries, eight states and two provinces. The basin encompasses more than 295,000 square miles in the United States and Canada, 100,000 miles of navigable water, and is home to more than 33 million people. With so much land and water and so many people, Great Lakes policy is difficult to develop and enforce.

Flags of the U.S. and Canada. Click for larger image. Legislation within the Great Lakes basin involves the federal governments of the United States and Canada. The differences between these governments creates difficulties when enacting binational and regional law; however, regional cooperation and legislation is important in the Great Lakes basin. Water and air from both countries mix with each other, so the actions of each country affect the other. For example, Michigan could pass a law prohibiting industries from dumping a certain toxic chemical into Lake Erie, but if Ontario, Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York don't pass the same law, then the water quality of Lake Erie will still suffer. A regional approach between two countries is difficult to manage, but it has been accomplished in the past.

Visit GLIN's Laws and Policies of the Great Lakes Region page for more information.

Graphics: Great Lakes basin; Canadian and U.S. flags

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