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Great Lakes Article:

Sea of studies fails to help Great Lakes
Representatives call for action, not talk
By Peter Slevin and Kari Lydersen
The Washington Post
Posted on Concord Monitor on November 2, 2005

CHICAGO - From the algae blooms in Lake Erie to the invading zebra mussels in Lake Michigan, threats to the Great Lakes ecology stretch from A to Z. That would include B for bacteria, M for mercury and T for toxic spills.

Chicago beaches close routinely because of E. coli contamination. Advisories are in place about eating fish contaminated with dangerous chemicals. Environmental advocates warn about sewage overflows, water diversion and the increasing demands of a thirsty population.

After many years of haphazard government stewardship, a broad study effort convened by the Bush administration discovered much agreement on the troubles of the vast water system. The problem is the cost. A draft report released in July suggested spending $20 billion in the coming years -several times more than current expenditures, and more than influential members of the Bush administration consider affordable.

Although formal conclusions are not due until December, skeptical Republicans and Democrats are already asking how committed the White House and its congressional allies will prove to be - not least because of the huge demands of the Iraq war and the rebuilding of the Gulf Coast.

"We want to see action," said Rep. Mark Kirk, a Republican from Illinois who reported that 140,000 women in Illinois alone showed elevated levels of mercury. To end the administration study effort with merely a series of poorly funded recommendations, he said, would "make it a waste of time."

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