Legal Assessment of the Great Lakes Compact and the Great Lakes Commission

Nov 25, 2019 | News and Announcements

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Ann Arbor, Mich. – The Great Lakes Commission is an interstate compact agency established by the Great Lakes Basin Compact of 1955 and made up of appointed commissioners from the eight U.S. Great Lakes States and two Canadian Great Lakes Provinces. In 1968, Congress provided its formal consent to the interstate compact, thereby memorializing the agreement in both state and federal law. The Compact represents a world-class commitment between the Great Lakes states and provinces to collaboratively address Basinwide challenges.

In order to fulfill the charge of the Compact, the Commission has engaged in a comprehensive series of assessments of the Great Lakes Basin Compact and the Commission, including the legal, administrative, and financial structures of the Commission.

For the first phase of the assessment, the Commission retained the Council of State Governments – National Center for Interstate Compacts (NCIC) to provide a Legal Assessment of the Great Lakes Compact and the Great Lakes Commission. The legal assessment incorporates findings from a wide array of documents, including legislative history and caselaw, to illustrate the basis for and nature of the Great Lakes Commission. NCIC also offers a series of recommendations related to internal Commission practices and procedures, supplementary agreements, state and provincial actions, amendments to the Compact and other congressional action.

Ultimately, the legal assessment and recommendations represent potential first steps on a path toward reconnecting the Great Lakes Basin with the Compact and pursuing a future of collaborative governance in the Basin. The Commission looks forward to reviewing and discussing the assessment and its recommendations over the coming weeks and months.

The Commission looks forward to working with the many stakeholders in Basinwide governance as we continue to assess how the Compact and Commission can best address challenges and opportunities throughout the Basin for generations to come.

The Great Lakes Commission, led by chair Sharon M. Jackson, Deputy General Counsel for Governor Eric J. Holcomb of Indiana, is an interstate compact agency established under the Great Lakes Basin Compact of 1955. The Commission is authorized by state and U.S. federal law and dedicated to promoting a strong economy, healthy environment and high quality of life for the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Basin and its residents. The Commission consists of governors’ appointees, state legislators, industry and nonprofit leaders and agency officials from eight states and two provinces. Associate membership for Ontario and Québec was established through the signing of a “Declaration of Partnership.” The Commission maintains a formal Observer program involving U.S. and Canadian federal agencies, tribal authorities, binational agencies and other regional interests. The Commission office is in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Learn more at


For media inquiries, please contact Hannah Reynolds, [email protected].

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