Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Four Year Funding To Help Clean US Waters = Eight Weeks of Iraq Spending

The good news is that the Clean Water State Revolving Fund (SRF) passed the House of Representatives last week.

This US Environmental Protection Agency program helps make sure our drinking and recreational waters are free of pollutants.

If approved by the US Senate (a bit iffier, but probable) and actually funded with appropriations by the Bush administration (even iffier, since the Bush administration prefers spending our tax money to blow up water systems in Iraq), the Fund would provide
$14 billion over four years for basic drinking water and sewage treatment upgrades across the country.

Getting new money into the Fund is an important piece of a related effort specifically to help clean up and preserve the Great Lakes.

And that's why it's crucial to move on a third front: passing pending amendments to the Great Lakes Compact that require active conservation plans and guarantees of return flow prior to diversions of water away from the Great Lakes basin.

Conservation. Improved drinking water and sewage treatment. Making sure that diversions from the Great Lakes are approved only as science-based last resorts, with guaranteed return flow of diverted water:

It's all linked together, something that Compact opponents like State Sen. Mary Lazich and the Waukesha County Chamber of Commerce just will not or cannot see.

And while $14 billion for the Clean Water Fund allocated over four years - - or $3.5 billion each year is a lot of money, consider that:

First, the Fund makes loans, so the money comes back.

Second, the Iraq war is costing $250 million dollars a day, and that money literally goes up in smoke.

(And that was the figure before the troop surge, and the administration's proposal for another $100 billion this year, and an eventual cost that could hit two trillion dollars, according to a year-old, pre-surge estimate from a Nobel Prize-winning economist.)

But back to spending $250 million a day in this now four-year-old war: At that price, the annual cost to finance the Clean Water Fund is a mere 14 days worth of Iraq spending.

And the entire four-year Clean Water Fund's $14 billion could be financed with just 56 days of Iraq spending. Think about it: That's just eight weeks. Summer doesn't even start for nine weeks.

We often hear that the country can't afford a domestic agenda.

Universal health care? Too expensive. Better passenger trains and light rail? Where would the money come from? Better schools, and pre-schools, too? Forget about it.

Remember when you hear the costs of things we cannot afford that the war in Iraq costs about $10 million dollars an hour, $250 million a day, $1.75 billion a week.

You decide if that's contributing real value to your security and our shared domestic tranquility.

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