A recent report (updated) released by the Brookings Institution addresses the question: "what are healthy Great Lakes worth to the regional and national economies" and the potential return on investment from restoring the Great Lakes ecosystem. The study analyzes the direct relationship between environmental quality and economic benefits to the entire Great Lakes region. Conducting a benefit-cost analysis, the authors claim that the gains from investing in the environmental infrastructure in the Great Lakes are impressive. The efforts undertaken thus far have been a Presidential Executive Order, an EPA-led task force establishing a Great Lakes Regional Collaboration, a Great Lakes restoration process, legislation introduced in Congress to implement and fund the strategy, and more.
The report also highlights several impediments to the Great Lakes region; a decreasing population, low educational attainment, lack of entrepreneurial activity and others. The study suggests that the federal, state, and local governments must play a very significant role in revitalizing the region.
The result of the $26 billion revitalization strategy over several years would result in the following benefits, as reported by the authors' analyses:
Over $50 billion in long-term national benefits
$30 - $50 billion in short-term benefits regionally
Development of new environmental and biodiesel technologies and alternative energies.
*note: Click here to access the unpublished version of this report which contains additional economic data from the study.
image: Diane McCarthy, tigger.uic.edu/~diane/