Green news, reflections, and stories from Ohio's leading environmental advocates.
My first national park visit wasn’t that long ago. On a Route 66 road trip with a friend, we saw an interesting sign outside of the small town of Chambers, Arizona that said “Welcome to Petrified Forest National Park.” Our one rule on this trip was either of us could request a stop for anything we thought would be interesting and this seemed very interesting to me. Not only had I never been to a National Park, a petrified forest in the middle of the desert sounded fascinating.
Two years ago today, FirstEnergy filed its original coal bailout case at the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio. At the time, industry insiders, consumer groups and environmental organizations alike thought it unlikely that FirstEnergy would get what they were asking for - billions of dollars from their customers to pay for the Sammis coal plant and the Davis-Besse nuclear plant.
On August 2, the Clean Power Plan hit a milestone; one year ago the final carbon pollution limits were released by the USEPA, and it was clear that Ohio must get itself on track to reduce carbon pollution from power plants by 27% by 2030. The ultimate fate of this critical policy is still a bit uncertain. But the global temperature trends and the climate change impacts felt both close and far from Ohio make me think that perhaps 2016 is shaping up to be the poster child for why we need the Clean Power Plan now more than ever.
Today, the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency released its draft list of severely polluted lakes and rivers it considers “impaired” under the Clean Water Act. Included are portions of Lake Erie where Toledo draws its drinking water, as well as miles of shoreline and areas around the lake islands. Even before the Toledo water crisis almost two years ago where nearly half a million residents were told not to drink their tap water due to toxic algae contamination, several organizations were calling for an impairment designation, and those voices have only gotten louder.
This sums up the latest twist in FirstEnergy’s plan to saddle customers with the cost of their bad bets on coal-fired power plants. Despite the federal rejection of their bailout proposal several months ago, FirstEnergy modified its “ask” to the PUCO, and in hearings starting this week, the utility has a leg up. This is largely due to the PUCO staff already recommending that the commission give the utility $130 million per year in “credit support” for the next few years. Who will be paying for this? FirstEnergy customers.
The map to the right is of last year's nitrate advisory.
The city of Columbus just issued a warning that infants (6 months or younger) and pregnant women should avoid using tap water due to elevated nitrate levels found in the water provided by the Dublin Road Water Plant.
Today the Ohio Environmental Council joined with the Environmental Law and Policy Center, Freshwater Future and the Ohio Environmental Stewardship Alliance commenting on Ohio’s blueprint for curbing western Lake Erie’s toxic algae. See here for comments.
With over 90,000 active oil and gas wells, compressors, and processors in Ohio, more than 3.1 million people live in an area within a half- mile of an oil and gas facility. This isn’t surprising given that Ohio has some of the weakest setback regulations in the nation. Oil and gas operations can occur just 50 feet from a water source, and 100 feet from a home or school in a rural area!
Snuggled in the southern hills of Adams County lies one of Ohio’s most remote and wild forests: the Rock Run Watershed. The streams here wind and impress themselves on the local topography, and on hikers and explorers who venture to this far corner of the state. Trickling, pouring, running waters have through generations sculpted steep reliefs and interesting sights.