Just because gas prices have dropped doesn’t mean Ohio should build more highways. Recently, 700 Sierra Club members commented on the Ohio Department of Transportation’s (ODOT) 2014 Statewide Transit Needs Study. Now we have the opportunity to weigh in on the specific projects that ODOT will fund in 2015-2018.
We hope you can join the Sierra Club for our annual Chapter Retreat. As one of the largest and most influential environmental organizations in the state, this is the time each year where we celebrate our victories, renew our spirits, and make our plans the year ahead. All are welcome, and meals will be provided for members who register.
Legislative update–Ohio Senate passes House Bill 363
December 8th, 2009
The Ohio Senate passed House Bill 363 on December 9, the very same day that the bill was voted out of the Senate Agriculture Committee. The bill would transfer water permitting authority of factory farms from the Ohio EPA to the Ohio Department of Agriculture.
In the committee hearing, eleven citizens testified in opposition to the bill with many serious concerns about agricultural impacts on public health and the environment. Ohio Department of Agriculture is not in the business of protecting Ohio’s environment. It is unprecedented for environmental permitting and enforcement authority to be given to an agency that is not charged with the goal of environmental protection.
In Ohio, CAFOs generate over 10.5 million tons of manure per year, with some individual facilities creating more waste than medium-sized cities. Concentrated livestock production leads to concentrated manure production. This can result in manure over-application, where it can easily pollute local rivers, streams, and groundwater. Excessive nutrients in the water lead to algal blooms, which deprive the water of oxygen and ultimately kill fish and other organisms. Increased water pollution also means higher costs for municipalities to treat the water.
Our Legislators must consider the Ohio Department of Agriculture’s history and weak enforcement record before handing over authority to regulate water pollution generated by CAFOs. A study by the Environmental Integrity Project reveals ODA’s weak enforcement history under the current regulatory program, along with a failure to address air and water pollution created by factory farms. Ohioans will continue to suffer severe consequences from factory farm pollution without proper guidelines and enforcement. In light of Ohio Department of Agriculture’s weak track record, Ohioans deserve a better equipped agency to protect our drinking water, our quality of life and the state’s natural resources.