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Kasich vetoes water withdrawals from Lake Erie, calls for improvements to protect Great Lakes

 |  07/18/11 @ 1:27pm

 

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This week was an interesting one for me in my role as Chief of Sustainability for Mayor Jackson with City of Cleveland. The Summit is just about two months away and we are finalizing the agenda, confirming speakers and analyzing the applications we've received so far. Cleveland is really doing some terrific and bold things, in our business sector, non-profit and in the community at large. I am proud of the City and the bold steps we are beginning to take to become a bright green city on a blue lake.

While Cleveland is making great strides on a local level, legislation at the state and federal level has the potential to undermine decades of environmental protection that have dramatically helped to improve water quality here in Cleveland and the Great Lakes region. HB 231 quietly passed our state legislature on June 28th and this Wednesday evening the House of Representative passed HR 2018  in Washington without fanfare. HB 231 allows for un-permitted withdrawals of water from Lake Erie and HR 2018 essentially sends regulation authority of water quality back to the states, stripping the U.S. EPA and the Clean Water Act of 1972 of its authority to regulate water quality. If this becomes law, it will be devastating to the Great Lakes region and essentially restarts the clock to the 1960s. This was a time in our history when we had a dead lake and a river that burned.

Thinking about the effects of those pieces of legislation, I had a vision of working on a house and being proud of cleaning it up. Maybe I was just finishing the wood trim or putting the final touches on the landscaping, while behind me the entire neighborhood is up in flames. Legislation that fails to value and protect natural resources are threats to the work that all of us are trying to achieve and they undermine the values set forth by our community. They threaten the very ability to meet the basic needs of future generations. We need to work diligently locally, but we cannot forget about the impact that state and federal policy may have on our work. 

Today, Mayor Jackson sent a letter to Governor Kasich asking him to veto SB-231. I was thrilled to learn that the Governor made the right choice and vetoed this piece of legislation. I am proud to be a part of the effort to transform our region's economy into a sustainable economy. I am proud also to be part of a team that understands the value of protecting what safe guards we have put in place to protect and preserve the assets that we have in the region, most notably our great lake. I would like to encourage everyone to stay connected and stay involved. We have the ability to shape the world we live in, but we cannot be passive and expect it to look the way we envision.  

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