The Great Lakes basin contains 90% of the surface fresh water in North America, and 20% of the world's supply. Unfortunately, the Great Lakes aren't doing so great these days. Sewage from surrounding cites, toxic sediments, and invasive species are diminishing the quality of the water. The pollution and environmental destruction have raised cries from many who advocate that a major cleanup of our precious waterways is long overdue. Promises were made by President Bush in his 2004 re-election campaign, but little money to actually perform the cleanup has been provided by the federal government.
The Great Lakes basin in the U.S. includes New York, Illinois, Michigan as well as five other states that are crucial in the current presidentional race: Ohio, Pennsylvania, Indiana, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. Senator McCain is said to be for a cleanup, but has yet to put forward a plan. Senator Obama is a co-sponsor of legislation to implement the restoration of the Great Lakes, a part of his environmental plan. Heather Zichal, Obama's energy and environmental policy director, has said that Obama, hailing from a Great Lakes state, understands the lake's dire situation and would give them top billing. For the full story in the Buffalo News, click here.
The Great Lakes are a vital part of our environment. The lakes are the source of fresh water for millions of people, and they support regional agriculture, recreation, tourism and a muti-billion dollar fishing industry. The waterways are also economically important for hydropower, shipping and manufacturing. Restoring a healthy environment by cleaning up the Great Lakes needs to be strongly supported by our next president. The League of Conservation Voters gave Senator McCain a very low lifetime rating based on important environmental legislation, while Barack Obama was given the highest lifetime rating. McCain has no environmental plan on his website, while Obama does. To read Obama's environmental plan, including a section on "Restore the Great Lakes", click here. Obama has also proposed a trust fund towards implementing the full restoration of the Great Lakes.