City could gain in Great Lakes planGreat Lakes cities stand to reap billions of dollars in benefits if federal lawmakers ever decide to fund the Great Lakes restoration plan
By: By DAN EGAN/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, The Daily Telegram
Great Lakes cities stand to reap billions of dollars in benefits if federal lawmakers ever decide to fund the Great Lakes restoration plan that has been floating around Congress for more than two years, according to an economic study released Wednesday by the Brookings Institution.
Locally, it estimates the Twin Ports will benefit to the tune of $200-$300 million.
The cost to fix the five big lakes’ toxic industrial messes, tattered food web, ravaged wetlands and chronic sewer overflows, among other problems, was pegged last summer at a staggering $26 billion. But last fall Brookings, a Washington D.C.-based think tank, released a study that said the estimated long-term economic value to the region of the mammoth fix-it program would be about double its price tag.
The benefits are linked to increases in tourism, property values, fishing and other recreational activities — all of which would presumably benefit from a restoration of the world’s largest freshwater system.
On Wednesday the study authors dusted off their old work and put a number on what it would mean for the region’s big cities. Milwaukee stands to gain anywhere from $1.5 to $2.3 billion.
“This analysis underscores the importance of Great Lakes restoration to our region,” study co-author John C. Austin said in a new release. “But we need to get started cleaning up the lakes today. The longer we wait, the higher the price tag will be and the smaller the return on our investment.”
The funding would come from Congress, but state and local governments would also contribute.
Brookings’ initial report was based on calculating the benefits of funding the Great Lakes restoration plan created after an executive order signed by President Bush in 2004.
That plan was crafted by environmentalists, scientists, civic and tribal leaders, among others.
— Copyright © 2008, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel/Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services