Friday, September 12, 2008

Long-Debated Great Lakes Cleanup Investment Would Cost Less Than Three Months Of War Funding

Conservationists meeting in Milwaukee this week believe that progress on the Great Lakes Compact, nicely timed with the presidential candidates wooing of Great Lakes battleground voters, might just set the stage for approval of a Great Lakes Restoration plan.

The estimated cost for a multi-year, five-lake, regional plan is $26 billion, a sum called "staggering" in The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel today- - but remember that the Iraq War costs $10 billion a month.

So is that "staggering," or actually affordable?

And from an investment perspective for the economies of the entire region - - supplying drinking water for 40 million people and supporting tens of thousands of jobs - - isn't that cost downright logical?

The Brookings Institution has estimated the cleanup and restoration program would generate between $30 and $50 billion in benefits to the region and another $50 billion nationally.

So that "staggering" investment has a payoff credibly estimated at $4 to $1, which means the outcome is what is staggering, not the front-end cost.

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