After Two Years of Debate, Lake Erie Still at Risk
In a 20-12 vote today, the Senate voted to pass an unbalanced bill that falls short of adequate protection for Lake Erie's rivers and impairs the rights of hunters and anglers and the public's use of waters within the Ohio Lake Erie drainage watershed. HB 473 is legislation that would implement the Great Lakes Compact. Following the Ohio Senate's passage of House Bill 473, environmental, conservation and sportsmen groups responded today with disappointment and grave concerns for the future of Ohio's waters.
"The bill rewards big businesses at the expense of recreational users, residents, wildlife and the waters of Lake Erie," said Kristy Meyer, director of Agricultural & Clean Water Programs at the Ohio Environmental Council. "It is now up to the governor to ensure Ohio adopts a more balanced approach for Lake Erie and the wildlife, residents and businesses that depend upon it."
In 2008, Ohio joined with 7 other states in adopting the Great Lakes Compact-an unprecedented joint agreement providing protections against diversions of water outside of the Great Lakes basin and unwise water use within the basin. Following the passage in each individual state, the Compact was adopted by the U.S. Congress.
Ohio's General Assembly was then required to pass legislation to implement water management and conservation programs under the Compact. Gov. John Kasich rightfully vetoed the first version passed by the legislature last year, as it fell short of providing the necessary protection for Lake Erie and its vital tributaries. While the new legislation is improved, it still falls short in the some of the same major areas that are needed to protect Lake Erie and its vital tributaries.
"Lake Erie and its rivers and streams provide world class steelhead and walleye fishing. Unfortunately, this bill fails to protect these special resources," said Marc Smith, senior policy manager with National Wildlife Federation. "Hopefully, Governor Kasich recognizes the importance of Lake Erie to Ohio's economy and our way of life by vetoing this bill."
In addition, House Bill 473 also impairs the rights of hunters, anglers and the public to challenge decisions that would threaten their ability to enjoy and recreate in Ohio's Lake Erie Basin.
"Governor Kasich did the right thing by vetoing the initial version of Great Lakes Compact legislation," said Rick Unger, president of the Lake Erie Charter Boat Association. "While we appreciate his engagement in the issue and his concern over the protection of the Lake Erie Basin, we urge him to consider throwing this one back, as well."
During the consideration of the legislation, former Govs. Bob Taft and George Voinovich raised concerns in a letter to lawmakers, urging them to amend HB 473 to protect recreational users' rights to appeal a water use permit, as well as protect Lake Erie and its rivers. Former Ohio Department of Natural Resources Director Sam Speck, who negotiated the Compact agreement amongst the Great Lakes states, stressed the importance of striking a fair balance between industry's access to water and maintaining sustainable water supplies in the Lake Erie drainage basin in testimony before the House.
Among others, the legislature also heard concerns voiced from a wide variety of sporting and boating groups, including the Izaak Walton League of America, Ohio Division; the League of Ohio Sportsmen; Ducks Unlimited; the Bull Moose Sportsmen Alliance; Central Ohio Anglers and Hunters; Lake Erie Charter Board Association; Ohio B.A.S.S. Federation Nation; Grand River Sailing Club; and the Greater Cleveland Boating Association.
As a result of recreational and commercial fishing, hunting, wildlife watching, tourism and travel, Lake Erie supplies the state with more than $10 billion in economic revenue each year and 1 out of every 10 jobs in the counties along the coast. It is the most biologically productive of all the Great Lakes. It produces more fish for human consumption than all the other Great Lakes combined. "Protecting Lake Erie and its rivers are vital to the health of Ohio's wildlife and economy," said Josh Knights, executive director of the Ohio Chapter of The Nature Conservancy.
Senators that voted to pass the legislation:
Tom Niehaus (R-New Richmond)
Cliff Hite (R-Findlay)
Mark Wagoner (R-Ottawa Hills)
Kevin Bacon (R-Village of Minerva)
Bill Coley (R-Liberty Township)
Bill Beagle (R-Tipp City)
Peggy Lehner (R-Kettering)
Shannon Jones (R-Springboro)
Bill Seitz (R-Cincinnati)
Chris Widener (R-Springfield)
Keith Faber (R-Celina)
Jim Hughes (R-Columbus)
Bob Peterson (R-Sabina)
Capri Cafaro (D-Hubbard)
Kris Jordan (R-Powell)
Troy Balderson (R-Zanesville)
Larry Obhf (R-Montville)
Dave Burke (R-Marysville)
Scott Oelslager (R-North Canton)
Tim Schaffer (R-Lancaster)
Senators that voted against the legislation:
Lou Gentile (D-Stubenville)
Eric Kearny (D-Cincinnati)
Edna Brown (D-Toledo)
Gayle Manning (R-North Ridgeville)
Charleta Travares (D-Columbus)
John Ecklund (R-Munson Township)
Shirley Smith (D-Cleveland)
Michael Skindell (D-Lakewood)
Nina Turner (D-Cleveland)
Frank LaRose (R-Akron)
Tom Sawyer (D-Akron)
Joe Schiavoni (D-Canefield)
For more information, click here.
At first glance, you wouldn't think avocados and almonds could harm bees; but a closer look at how these popular crops are produced reveals their potentially detrimental effect on pollinators.
Migratory beekeeping involves trucking millions of bees across the U.S. to pollinate different crops, including avocados and almonds. Timothy Paule II / Pexels / CC0<p>According to <a href="https://www.fromthegrapevine.com/israeli-kitchen/beekeeping-how-to-keep-bees" target="_blank">From the Grapevine</a>, American avocados also fully depend on bees' pollination to produce fruit, so farmers have turned to migratory beekeeping as well to fill the void left by wild populations.</p><p>U.S. farmers have become reliant upon the practice, but migratory beekeeping has been called exploitative and harmful to bees. <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2019/05/10/health/avocado-almond-vegan-partner/index.html" target="_blank">CNN</a> reported that commercial beekeeping may injure or kill bees and that transporting them to pollinate crops appears to negatively affect their health and lifespan. Because the honeybees are forced to gather pollen and nectar from a single, monoculture crop — the one they've been brought in to pollinate — they are deprived of their normal diet, which is more diverse and nourishing as it's comprised of a variety of pollens and nectars, Scientific American reported.</p><p>Scientific American added how getting shuttled from crop to crop and field to field across the country boomerangs the bees between feast and famine, especially once the blooms they were brought in to fertilize end.</p><p>Plus, the artificial mass influx of bees guarantees spreading viruses, mites and fungi between the insects as they collide in midair and crawl over each other in their hives, Scientific American reported. According to CNN, some researchers argue that this explains why so many bees die each winter, and even why entire hives suddenly die off in a phenomenon called colony collapse disorder.</p>
Avocado and almond crops depend on bees for proper pollination. FRANK MERIÑO / Pexels / CC0<p>Salazar and other Columbian beekeepers described "scooping up piles of dead bees" year after year since the avocado and citrus booms began, according to Phys.org. Many have opted to salvage what partial colonies survive and move away from agricultural areas.</p><p>The future of pollinators and the crops they help create is uncertain. According to the United Nations, nearly half of insect pollinators, particularly bees and butterflies, risk global extinction, Phys.org reported. Their decline already has cascading consequences for the economy and beyond. Roughly 1.4 billion jobs and three-quarters of all crops around the world depend on bees and other pollinators for free fertilization services worth billions of dollars, Phys.org noted. Losing wild and native bees could <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/wild-bees-crop-shortage-2646849232.html" target="_self">trigger food security issues</a>.</p><p>Salazar, the beekeeper, warned Phys.org, "The bee is a bioindicator. If bees are dying, what other insects beneficial to the environment... are dying?"</p>
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
Australia is one of the most biodiverse countries in the world. It is home to more than 7% of all the world's plant and animal species, many of which are endemic. One such species, the Pharohylaeus lactiferus bee, was recently rediscovered after spending nearly 100 years out of sight from humans.
Scientists have newly photographed three species of shark that can glow in the dark, according to a study published in Frontiers in Marine Science last month.
- 10 Little-Known Shark Facts - EcoWatch ›
- 4 New Walking Shark Species Discovered - EcoWatch ›
- 5 Incredible Species That Glow in the Dark - EcoWatch ›
FedEx's entire parcel pickup and delivery fleet will become 100 percent electric by 2040, according to a statement released Wednesday. The ambitious plan includes checkpoints, such as aiming for 50 percent electric vehicles by 2025.
- Which Is Worse for the Planet: Beef or Cars? - EcoWatch ›
- Greenhouse Gas Levels Hit Record High Despite Lockdowns, UN ... ›
- 1.8 Billion Tons More Greenhouse Gases Will Be Released, Thanks ... ›