The Great Lakes are literally the future of the upper Midwest. This is a region built on natural resources, on its fertile land and rich lodes of iron and coal. As the economic benefits of those resources dwindle, our future now relies on how we use our one remaining untapped resource. The Lakes are the greatest reservoir of fresh water on the planet, and reviving the Midwestern economy depends on whether we use them wisely and well.
Which is why a vote by an obscure subcommittee of the U.S. House of Representative threatened to pound a nail into the Midwestern coffin. Presumably driven by the budget-cutting madness in Washington, the House Interior, Environment and Related Agencies Subcommittee voted to cut funds for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative by nearly 80 percent. It seems at least some will be restored, but we’ve been reminded that our economic future depends on the whims of Congressmen who wouldn’t know a Great Lakes if they fell in it.