The President of the United States of America has announced his intention to nominate three individuals to be the U.S. commissioners on the International Joint Commission (IJC).

The U.S. administration has named Jane L. Corwin of New York, Robert C. Sisson of Michigan, and Lance V. Yohe of North Dakota as candidates for the positions.

“We’re going to be sorry to lose the current members that are there, because of their immense breadth and depth of knowledge about the challenges we face in the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence, as well as the nuance of the decision making that goes into the IJC’s work,” said John Dickert, president and CEO of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative (GLSL). “So, we’re hoping that they show the same commitment, support, and strength for the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway that the IJC has in the past.”

Lance V. Yohe of Faro, North Dakota holds the position of executive director at Red River Basin Commission. After retiring from the RRBC in 2014, he started his own firm Trans Boundary Solutions, LLC, to address transboundary disputes.

“For more than 35 years, Lance has been a leader in finding innovative solutions to some of North Dakota’s most pressing water challenges, particularly in the Red River Basin,” said North Dakota Senator Heidi Heitkamp in a statement.

Yohe’s online CV also noted that once held the position of executive director of the Freshwater Foundation in Navarre, Minnesota.

Photo: Rob Sisson. Credit: ConservAmerica

Robert C. Sisson of Michigan is the current president of ConservAmerica, a non-partisan public education organization focused on environmental, energy, and conservation challenges. Sisson joined the organization in 2006 after a twenty-two-year career in commercial banking. Sisson served two terms as Mayor of the City of Sturgis, Michigan, de facto CEO of the city’s municipal electric company, and multiple terms as a city commissioner.

Jane L. Corwin, who would also be designated U.S. chair if appointed to the commission, is a well-known politician and businesswoman. Corwin has stated that she intends to seek a review of the Lake Ontario St. Lawrence River Plan 2014 (Plan 2014), a modern plan for managing water levels and flows on Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River. Corwin represented parts of the Niagara County shoreline from 2009 to 2016, areas that were impacted due to heavy flooding in 2017.

“I believe the thought process was to have somebody from this area be on the commission who was familiar with Plan 2014 because that was such a big issue. That’s how I ended up in this place,” said Corwin to the Buffalo News. “I know in the analysis part of the recommendation they did take into consideration extreme weather events. Actually, what ended up happening was more extreme than what ended up in the study.”

Photo: Jane L. Corwin. Credit: Niagara Chamber.

In Water Canada’s interview with John Dickert, he noted that Sisson and Faro have a background in water issues, and continued “I think the key is that they go in understanding the IJC’s work, the history behind the agreement,” he said.

Dickert added, “There’s a Native American saying that says, ‘we don’t inherit the land from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children. So, I’m hoping that petty politics is set aside, as it normally is when it comes to the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway. For the most part, what I’ve seen in my entire career is that the folks that represent this area really set aside petty politics, because they understand that magnitude of these great waters.”

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