Great Lakes Allies in Congress Rally Around New Report

The following dear colleague letter is being circulated on the Hill to generate support for the restoration of the Great Lakes. The letter follows the release of a new Brookings Institution report detailing how investing $26 billion in Great Lakes restoration can lead to at least $50 billion in long-term economic benefit. The letter follows: 

September 6, 2007

Two Hundred Percent Return on Investment
New study outlines economic benefits of Great Lakes restoration

Dear Colleague,

This week the Brookings Institution released a new report that highlights the economic benefits of cleaning up and protecting the Great Lakes ecosystem. “Healthy Waters, Strong Economy” reviews the recommendations laid out by the 1,500 federal, state, and local officials and relevant industry and environmental stakeholders who crafted the 2005 Great Lakes Regional Collaboration Strategy ( The Brookings report concludes that implementing these initiatives will produce a direct economic benefit of at least $50 billion. You can view the Brookings Report at

We already know about the environmental benefits of protecting this amazing resource, which serves as a significant fish and wildlife habitat and a source of drinking water, recreation and jobs for more than 35 million Americans.  The Brookings study identified the specific improvements that are expected from the restoration activities recommended in the GLRC Strategy and then determined their economic value. The most prominent benefits include:

  • $6.5 – $11.8 billion from tourism, fishing and recreation as a result of clean, open beaches and more abundant fish and wildlife populations.
  • $12 – 19 billion from increased commercial and residential property values.

These figures do not include the “multiplier effects” that come with any government funding, including additional spending by contractors, suppliers, employees, etc.  Accordingly, the total economic benefit will indeed be significantly higher, which is welcome news for a region hard hit by manufacturing job losses and slow economic growth.

The environmental necessity for Great Lakes restoration is well-documented.  Now the economic benefit of addressing these problems is also clear.  We cannot wait any longer to undertake these initiatives and to provide the necessary resources to get it done.


Vernon J. Ehlers       
Co-chair, Great Lakes Task Force

John D. Dingell
Co-chair, Great Lakes Task Force

Louise M. Slaughter
Co-chair, Great Lakes Task Force

Mark Steven Kirk
Co-chair, Great Lakes Task Force

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