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Great Lakes Article:

Editorial: Don't sweep away Great Lakes cleanup
Published October 17, 2005

Our position: Postponement of a Great Lakes cleanup shouldn't derail the ambitious proposal.

The effects of Katrina are still being felt in the Great Lakes region, far from where the hurricane made landfall.

A $20 billion proposal to clean up the Great Lakes over the next 15 years appears to be Katrina's latest victim, a casualty of $200 billion in federal aid targeted for hurricane relief. Katrina isn't mentioned in a leaked report that now calls for keeping Great Lakes expenditures "within current budget projections." But the financial problems the storm created can be the only explanation for the abrupt turnabout in White House policy.

When President Bush appointed an EPA-led task force that led to development of the $20 billion cleanup plan, he talked about "ensuring that the greatness of the lakes endures for generations." Bush signed onto a bold environmental proposal that rivaled restoration of the Everglades.

A devastating hurricane season and its budget considerations make postponement of the effort understandable. But delay shouldn't turn into derailment.

Indiana has a lot at stake in the proposed undertaking. It would help pay for a $400 million cleanup of the Indiana Harbor and Ship Canal, provide federal funding for fixing antiquated sewer systems in many Indiana communities, restore wetlands and protect Hoosier beaches that are invaluable tourist attractions.

As with other Great Lakes states hit by the loss of manufacturing and auto industry jobs, Indiana is in no position to do much about the Great Lakes without federal help.

Keeping the federal deficit under control is important. But so is preserving the nation's largest source of fresh water.

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