Ohio Governor Signs Bill that Leaves Lake Erie at Risk
Today, Ohio Gov. John Kasich signed into law legislation that for the first time will establish a permitting program for water withdrawals from Lake Erie and the rivers and groundwater that drain to the Lake.
Environmental and conservation leaders, however, are disappointed that the legislation:
• fails to protect Lake Erie's rivers and wildlife from unsustainable water withdrawals; and
• restricts the rights of hunters and anglers and other recreational users to appeal conditions of a water use permit to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR).
The legislation is intended to implement the Great Lakes Compact, an unprecedented binding agreement among the eight Great Lakes states to prohibit diversions of water outside of the Great Lakes basin. It also requires the wise use of water used within the watershed.
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 programs that would conserve and manage the use of water. "Unfortunately, mining, drilling and bottling companies have undermined the interests of millions of anglers and boaters and the countless fish and wildlife that depend on a healthy Lake Erie," said Kristy Meyer, director of Agricultural & Clean Water Programs at the Ohio Environmental Council. "The Great Lakes Compact constructed a roadmap for the states to follow its protective directions, but Ohio has chosen a troubling detour."
Gov. 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. To its credit the new legislation will require the ODNR to implement a voluntary conservation program, provide ODNR with enforcement tools and establishes water withdrawal thresholds for when a facility is required to obtain a permit.
The legislation, however, still falls short in fully protecting Lake Erie and its vital rivers.
"This bill leaves Lake Erie, its rivers and world-class steelhead and walleye fisheries vulnerable," said Marc Smith, senior policy manager with National Wildlife Federation. "Unfortunately, this bill does not achieve the balance as required under the Compact. As Ohio's neighbors take steps to implement water protections, Ohio has gone in the other direction."
During the consideration of the legislation, former Ohio Governors Bob Taft and George Voinovich raised concerns in a letter to lawmakers, urging them to amend the bill to protect recreational users' rights to appeal a water use permit, as well as protect Lake Erie and its rivers.
In testimony before the Ohio House of Representatives, 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.
"A healthy Lake Erie and its rivers are vital to my livelihood," said Rick Unger, president of the Lake Erie Charter Boat Association. "The rivers provide critical habitat for prized sportfish. By not protecting the rivers from significant impacts there will be less walleye, steelhead, and other prized sportfish for my customers to catch."
In addition to rolling back current protections for rivers, the bill strips hunters, anglers and the public from their right to challenge conditions of a water use permit that would threaten their ability to enjoy and recreate in Lake Erie or the rivers that feed the Lake.
"This legislation starts to unravel the public trust doctrine, which requires that the state manage the waters for all of the citizens in Ohio," said Rick Graham, president of the Izaak Walton League of America, Buckeye All State Chapter. "The sportsmen of Ohio have a fundamental right to challenge a water use if it would impair our ability to enjoy the natural resources held in trust for all of Ohioans."
The legislation approved today also mostly measures water uses over any 90-day average, allowing industrial users, including oil and gas drillers, to withdraw 3 million gallons of water over a few days without a permit.
Deep shale gas drilling is taking place in the Grand River, a high-quality stream with naturally low water levels, which was just labeled as one of the most endangered rivers in America due to hydrological fracturing.
"Ohio anglers are required to be licensed and are only allowed to keep five bass per a day," said Bob Townsend, conservation director at the Ohio B.A.S.S. Federation Nation. "We realize that licenses, permits, and daily catch limits are put in place to protect the fishery for all Ohio citizens. Large water users, therefore, should be required to measure their water use on a per day basis to protect the resources of Lake Erie for all Ohioans, not just large industries."
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.
"The Compact is a hard fought compromise between the many who depend on Great Lakes water," said Jared Teutsch, water policy advocate for the Alliance for the Great Lakes. "By choosing to fight old battles all over again, Ohio has left Lake Erie with an uncertain future."
The mission of the Ohio Environmental Council (OEC) is to secure healthy air, land, and water for all who call Ohio home. The OEC is Ohio's leading advocate for fresh air, clean water, and sustainable land use. The OEC has a 40-year history of innovation, pragmatism, and success. Using legislative initiatives, legal action, scientific principles, and statewide partnerships, the OEC secures a healthier environment for Ohio's families and communities.
OlgaMiltsova / iStock / Getty Images Plus
By Gwen Ranniger
In the midst of a pandemic, sales of cleaning products have skyrocketed, and many feel a need to clean more often. Knowing what to look for when purchasing cleaning supplies can help prevent unwanted and dangerous toxics from entering your home.
1. Fragrance – Avoid It<p>One of the fastest ways to narrow down your product options is immediately eliminating any product that promotes a fragrance, or parfum. That scent of "fresh breeze" or lemon might initially smell good, but the fragrance does not last. What does last? The concoction of various undisclosed and unregulated chemicals that created that fragrance.</p><p>Many fragrances contain phthalates, which are linked to many health risks including reproductive problems and cancer.</p>
2. With Bleach? Do Without<p>Going scent-free should have narrowed down your options substantially – now, check the front of the remaining packaging. Any that include ammonia or chlorine bleach ought to go, as these substances are irritating and corrosive to your body. While bleach is commonly known as a powerful disinfectant, there are safer alternatives that you can use in your home, such as sodium borate or hydrogen peroxide.</p><p>While you're at it, check if there are any warnings on the label – "flammable," "use in ventilated area," etc. – if the product is hazardous, that's a red flag and should be avoided.</p>
3. Check the Back Label<p>Flip to the back of the remaining contenders and check out that ingredient list. Less is more, here. Opt for a shorter ingredient list with words you recognize and/or can pronounce.</p><p>You may notice many products do not have ingredient lists – while this doesn't necessarily mean they contain toxic ingredients, transparency is key. Feel free to look up a list online, or stick to products that are open about their ingredients.</p>
4. Ingredients to Avoid<p>We already mentioned that cleaners containing fragrance or parfum, and bleach or ammonia should be avoided, but there are other ingredients to look out for as well.</p><ul><li>Quaternary ammonium "quats" – lung irritants that contribute to asthma and other breathing problems. Also linger on surfaces long after they've been cleaned.</li><li>Parabens – Known hormone disruptor; can contribute to ailments such as cancer</li><li>Triclosan – triclosan and other antibacterial chemicals are registered with the EPA as pesticides. Triclosan is a known hormone disruptor and can also impact your immune system.</li><li>Formaldehyde – Causes irritation of eyes, nose, and throat; studies suggest formaldehyde exposure is linked with certain varieties of cancer. Can be found in products or become a byproduct of chemical reactions in the air.</li></ul>
Cleaning Products and Toxics: The Bottom Line<p>Do your research. There are many cleaning products available, but taking these steps will drastically reduce your options and help keep your home toxic-free. Protecting your home from bacteria and viruses is important, but make sure you do so in a way that doesn't introduce other health risks into the home.</p><p><em>Reposted with permission from </em><em><a href="https://www.ehn.org/how-to-shop-for-cleaning-products-while-avoiding-toxics-2648130273.html" target="_blank">Environmental Health News</a>. </em><a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/r/entryeditor/2649054624#/" target="_self"></a></p>
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
JasonOndreicka / iStock / Getty Images
Twenty-five years ago, a food called Tofurky made its debut on grocery store shelves. Since then, the tofu-based roast has become a beloved part of many vegetarians' holiday feasts.
By Jessica Corbett
A leading environmental advocacy group marked Native American Heritage Month on Wednesday by urging President-elect Joe Biden, Vice President-elect Kamala Kamala Harris, and the entire incoming administration "to honor Indigenous sovereignty and immediately halt the Keystone XL, Dakota Access, and Line 3 pipelines."
- Climate Crisis: What We Can Learn From Indigenous Traditions ... ›
- 10 Organizations Honoring Native People on Thanksgiving ... ›
- Biden Vows to Ax Keystone XL if Elected - EcoWatch ›
Returning the ‘Three Sisters’ – Corn, Beans and Squash – to Native American Farms Nourishes People, Land and Cultures
By Christina Gish Hill
Historians know that turkey and corn were part of the first Thanksgiving, when Wampanoag peoples shared a harvest meal with the pilgrims of Plymouth plantation in Massachusetts. And traditional Native American farming practices tell us that squash and beans likely were part of that 1621 dinner too.
Abundant Harvests<p>Historically, Native people throughout the Americas bred indigenous plant varieties specific to the growing conditions of their homelands. They selected seeds for many different traits, such as <a href="https://emergencemagazine.org/story/corn-tastes-better/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">flavor, texture and color</a>.</p><p>Native growers knew that planting corn, beans, squash and sunflowers together produced mutual benefits. Corn stalks created a trellis for beans to climb, and beans' twining vines secured the corn in high winds. They also certainly observed that corn and bean plants growing together tended to be healthier than when raised separately. Today we know the reason: Bacteria living on bean plant roots pull nitrogen – an essential plant nutrient – from the air and <a href="http://www.tilthalliance.org/learn/resources-1/almanac/october/octobermngg" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">convert it to a form that both beans and corn can use</a>.</p><p>Squash plants contributed by shading the ground with their broad leaves, preventing weeds from growing and retaining water in the soil. Heritage squash varieties also had spines that discouraged deer and raccoons from visiting the garden for a snack. And sunflowers planted around the edges of the garden created a natural fence, protecting other plants from wind and animals and attracting pollinators.</p><p>Interplanting these agricultural sisters produced bountiful harvests that sustained large Native communities and <a href="http://dx.doi.org/10.1353/eam.2015.0016" target="_blank">spurred fruitful trade economies</a>. The first Europeans who reached the Americas were shocked at the abundant food crops they found. My research is exploring how, 200 years ago, Native American agriculturalists around the Great Lakes and along the Missouri and Red rivers fed fur traders with their diverse vegetable products.</p>
Displaced From the Land<p>As Euro-Americans settled permanently on the most fertile North American lands and acquired seeds that Native growers had carefully bred, they imposed policies that <a href="https://doi.org/10.1086/ahr/87.2.550" target="_blank">made Native farming practices impossible</a>. In 1830 President Andrew Jackson signed the <a href="https://guides.loc.gov/indian-removal-act" target="_blank">Indian Removal Act</a>, which made it official U.S. policy to force Native peoples from their home locations, pushing them onto subpar lands.</p><p>On reservations, U.S. government officials discouraged Native women from cultivating anything larger than small garden plots and pressured Native men to practice Euro-American style monoculture. Allotment policies assigned small plots to nuclear families, further limiting Native Americans' access to land and preventing them from using communal farming practices.</p><p>Native children were forced to attend boarding schools, where they had no opportunity to <a href="https://doi.org/10.5749/jamerindieduc.57.1.0145" target="_blank">learn Native agriculture techniques or preservation and preparation of Indigenous foods</a>. Instead they were forced to eat Western foods, turning their palates away from their traditional preferences. Taken together, these policies <a href="https://kansaspress.ku.edu/978-0-7006-0802-7.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">almost entirely eradicated three sisters agriculture</a> from Native communities in the Midwest by the 1930s.</p>
Reviving Native Agriculture<p>Today Native people all over the U.S. are working diligently to <a href="https://www.oupress.com/books/15107980/indigenous-food-sovereignty-in-the-united-sta" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">reclaim Indigenous varieties of corn, beans, squash, sunflowers and other crops</a>. This effort is important for many reasons.</p><p>Improving Native people's access to healthy, culturally appropriate foods will help lower rates of <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns/aian-diabetes/index.html" target="_blank">diabetes</a> and <a href="https://www.apa.org/pi/oema/resources/ethnicity-health/native-american/obesity" target="_blank">obesity</a>, which affect Native Americans at disproportionately high rates. Sharing traditional knowledge about agriculture is a way for elders to pass cultural information along to younger generations. Indigenous growing techniques also protect the lands that Native nations now inhabit, and can potentially benefit the wider ecosystems around them.</p>
By Jake Johnson
Amid reports that oil industry-friendly former Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz remains under consideration to return to his old post in the incoming Biden administration, a diverse coalition of environmental groups is mobilizing for an "all-out push" to keep Moniz away from the White House and demand a cabinet willing to boldly confront the corporations responsible for the climate emergency.