Environmental Policymaking in Congress: The Role of Issue Definitions in Wetlands, Great Lakes, and Wildlife Policies

By Kelly Tzoumis | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 4

Bounded Issue Model—The Case of the Great Lakes

The United States Great Lakes (referred to as the Great Lakes or Lakes) are one of the most important natural resources in the country, if not the world. Not only do the Great Lakes span over 750 miles across eight states and two Canadian provinces, they also contain eighteen percent of the world’s and ninety-five percent of the United States’ fresh water supply (U.S. EPA 1995), with only the polar ice caps containing more fresh water. The Great Lakes cover about one-third of the border between Canada and the United States and themselves border Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New York as well as Ontario and Quebec. The nearly 300,000 square mile drainage basin is home to one-tenth the population of United States and one-quarter that of Canada (U.S. EPA1995). Nearly twenty-five percent of the total Canadian agricultural production and seven percent of the American production are located in the basin. The Lakes contain 5,500 cubic miles of water covering a total area of 94,000 square miles. Currently, the basin provides eleven percent of total employment and fifteen percent of manufacturing jobs in Canada and the United States (Gleick 1993). The consequences of industry, commerce and navigation became obvious by the twentieth century. Entire food webs were altered with the pollutants, over-fishing, and introduction of exotic species like zebra mussels or sea lamprey. Beaches today continue to periodically be closed because of bacteria from human waste.

Results show that three major eras occur in Congressional policy-

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