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Election experts testify before the US House that more funding is necessary. And Arizona, Kansas, Michigan, Missouri and Washington state had primaries yesterday; Hawaii and Tennessee have them later this week.

"Watered Down" Politics Preferred for MI?

January 15, 2008

Ann Arbor, MI – Wading into presidential politics in today's primary means wading into the Great Lakes debate in Michigan. Republican candidate John McCain has signed a pledge to work on the Great Lakes Restoration Act stalled in Congress, and his GOP opponent Mitt Romney also is promising to put Great Lakes issues front and center if he becomes president.

Jordan Lubetkin with the National Wildlife Federation in Michigan says stopping sewage contamination and halting invasive species really strike a chord with voters.

"It's really an issue that affects all of America. It affects businesses, it affects the recreational users of the Lakes and it affects millions of people who depend on the Lakes for drinking water."

Lubetkin stresses that while Great Lakes issues have become featured topics for Republican presidential candidates, Great Lakes restoration is not really a party-specific issue.

"We've seen that the Great Lakes are a huge economic driver. Now we see in a hotly contested state like Michigan, Great Lakes restoration has the ability to be an issue that can separate candidates and give them a political advantage."

A recent Brookings Institution report shows restoring the Great Lakes would bring $50 billion to the region. Lubetkin says the research is important to keep in mind as candidates talk about the state's current economic woes.

The Brookings Institution report is at www.healthylakes.org.

Deborah Smith/Eric Mack, Public News Service - MI