need money, not more lip service
The Bay City Times
Published Sunday, June 6, 2004
President George W. Bush is focusing federal attention on
the Great Lakes.
The cabinet-level Great Lakes Interagency Task Force
is charged with coming up with a plan by May 31, 2005,
for cleaning and protecting the lakes.
After decades of study, years of reports and a century
of concern, the Great Lakes are treated to yet another
pile of paperwork.
While a group with the president's authority to coordinate
restoration of the Great Lakes may be helpful, what's
really needed is money.
A bill in Congress proposes as much as $6 billion over
eight years to clean and stop pollution, guard against
exotic pests and restore wetlands and watersheds.
The green of cash is where Washington can have the biggest
impact on the Great Lakes now.
But with a federal budget squeezed with the demands of
the war on terror and with rebuilding Iraq and Afghanistan,
there doesn't appear to be much enthusiasm on Capitol
Hill for new spending on the Great Lakes.
So we get Bush's plan to draft a plan to coordinate every
plan that has come before.
A show of concern, but no show of money.
For sure, we welcome the new interest in the Great Lakes.
We're just disappointed that - yet again - it may not
mean much for the inland seas for years to come.
There is very little disagreement about what the Great
First, there are the hoards of invasive species that
are altering the ecology of the lakes.
Zebra mussels are here to stay. So are alewives, gobies,
lampreys and other invaders. The horror of giant Asian
carp is on the threshold of the Great Lakes in the Chicago
Sanitary and Ship Canal.
They must be stopped.
Toxic hot spots such as the Saginaw River and Bay may
need further cleaning. This need is outlined in the International
Joint Commission on the Great Lakes' Areas of Concern
Discharges of untreated sewage must be stopped. Halting
polluted farm runoff is the next big task for cleaning
We know what needs to be done.
That's why sportsmen's and environmental groups across
Michigan and the Great Lakes basin are cool to the president's
new task force.
Stop yakking about it and show us the money.
The Florida Everglades and Chesapeake Bay were restored
only after billions in federal dollars were poured into
If Bush's task force gets the Great Lakes the money they
need, then great.
But we can't get excited about another year of waiting.
The time for talk is over.
We want to work on our waters.