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Great Lakes Article:

Editorial: Great Lakes cleanup merits state's support
Wisconsin State Journal
Published July 14, 2005

A far-reaching plan to restore and protect the Great Lakes is a step closer following the completion last week of a $20-billion proposal by a partnership of federal, state, tribal and local representatives. Needed now is a concerted effort to trim the cost and to sharpen a strategy for earning support in Congress and other government bodies expected to provide the money.

The effort deserves Wisconsin's wholehearted support. With extensive shorelines on two of the Great Lakes, the state has a major stake in the outcome.

Plans to restore the ailing Great Lakes have been proposed before only to stall in Congress. But the recommendations last week came from the Great Lakes Regional Collaboration, a committee assembled by the Bush administration. With presidential support, this group has clout previously lacking.

The recommendations range from upgrading wastewater treatment to restoring wetlands to imposing regulations to prevent invasive species from hitchhiking into the lakes in ships' ballast water.

The astounding price tag suggests the plan faces an uphill battle. Time remains, however, to look for ways to bring the cost down. The plan will be submitted for a 60-day public comment period. A final version is expected to go to Congress by December.

The regional collaboration process is an excellent opportunity to clean up the lakes. The Great Lakes states, including Wisconsin, should use the remainder of this year to make sure the plan and its final cost are defensible and to unite in a campaign to sell the plan in Washington.

For more information, including how to comment, check collaboration/strategy.html.

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