While Obama’s focus is on education, WNY issues deserve some attention - The Buffalo News
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While Obama’s focus is on education, WNY issues deserve some attention

As President Obama makes his return trip to Buffalo to promote reforms that would make college more affordable – indeed, a critical goal – there are a number of Western New York issues that demand federal attention.

In the three years since his last visit, our economy has become much more focused on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus and the waterfront.

The burgeoning medical campus points to the need for continued federal investments in scientific research, including cancer research, to maintain the impressive job growth and construction now occurring. Research sponsored by the National Institutes of Health, which includes the National Cancer Institute, promises new therapies for cancer and other chronic illnesses.

Buffalo is a key player in developing new directions in cancer treatment, using drugs that target specific cells and create fewer side effects, for example. There are clinical trials ongoing at Roswell Park Cancer Institute, the first comprehensive cancer center in the entire nation and still one of only 41.

But the mindless sequester is stalling some of that research, threatening the health of millions of Americans.

In the last six years, hundreds of millions of public dollars have been spent on the waterfront, leveraging much more in new private development. Sustaining that momentum requires both federal dollars and clean water.

The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, which is helping restore the harbor, is an area of obvious concern that could use the chief executive’s help. The Environmental Protection Agency is saying the Buffalo River will be swimmable in five years and the fish caught consumable, if the massive cleanup project continues.

We understand the president has his hands full with a Republican House determined to block him at every turn. These two areas – medical research and clean water – are not right-wing or left-wing concerns. They are bipartisan issues, and Obama must find a way to work with Republicans to continue that vital funding.

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