Sea of studies fails to help Great
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
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."