Ohio

Press Release: ELPC Commends Full Funding for Great Lakes Restoration Initiative

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

SEPTEMBER 14, 2017

ELPC Commends Full Funding for Great Lakes Restoration Initiative 

House Rejects Trump Administration’s Zeroing Out FY 2018 Budget for this Successful Program 

 

STATEMENT BY HOWARD A. LEARNER

Executive Director, Environmental Law & Policy Center

 

CHICAGO – Howard Learner, Executive Director of the Environmental Law & Policy Center, said in response to the U.S. House of Representatives’ approval of full funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) as part of the fiscal year 2018 budget:

“The Environmental Law & Policy Center commends the bipartisan legislators who worked together to reject the Trump Administration’s cuts and provide full funding of $300 million for the successful Great Lakes Restoration Initiative,” Learner said. “This program has supported more than 3,000 sensible projects to protect and restore the Great Lakes since 2011. That’s great value for all of us who live, work and play in the Great Lakes. We urge the U.S. Senate to include full funding as it considers the budget.”

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The Columbus Dispatch: AEP Ohio Incentive Plan Could Help Double Ohio’s Vehicle Charging Stations


Incentive Plan Could Help Double Ohio’s Vehicle Charging Stations
by Dan Gearino

August 30, 2017

The number of electric-vehicle charging stations in Ohio would be poised to double under a rebate proposal from American Electric Power and environmental groups.

If approved by the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio, the $10 million plan would give incentives to apartment owners, businesses and others to build up to 375 charging stations in AEP territory in Ohio.

Ohio has 346 stations listed by the federal government’s Alternative Fuels Data Center. That number, which includes public and private locations, ranks Ohio 20th in the country, behind Midwestern neighbors such as Michigan and Pennsylvania.

“It’s a great step,” said Sam Spofforth, executive director of Clean Fuels Ohio, which advocates for reducing pollution from vehicle fuels. “All electricity customers will benefit from this.”

He expects broad benefits because of a decrease in air pollution and because the use of electricity as an automotive fuel will help to broaden the base for paying to maintain the electricity system.

The charging stations are a small part of an agreement that AEP and more than a dozen other parties are asking the PUCO to approve. AEP would receive several items it wants in exchange for making concessions to other groups that signed on to the deal.

AEP’s 1.3 million Ohio customers would pay for the charging-station rebates through a so-far unspecified charge in utility bills. And that is a concern for the Office of the Ohio Consumers’ Counsel, which opposes many parts of the rate plan.

“State regulators shouldn’t be asked to make a million consumers — most of whom don’t drive electric vehicles — pay to subsidize electric-vehicle charging through their AEP electric bills,” said Dan Doron, the office’s spokesman, in an e-mail.

Doron said an increase in charging stations should come instead from private investment in response to market demand.

Here’s how the rebate program would work:

‒ AEP would provide money to help pay for up to 300 “Level 2” charging stations, which is a step up from a basic charger. Three in 10 of the stations of this type would need to be in places that the public can access. The rest would be at workplaces, apartments and condominium complexes that might not be open to the public.

‒ The company also would offer rebates for up to 75 “DC Fast” charging stations, which work much faster than a Level 2 charger. All of these stations would be open to the public.

‒ The rebates would range from 50 percent to 100 percent of the costs involved in installing the stations; the highest rebates would be reserved for locations available to the public at government-owned properties.

AEP would not own the stations but would be able to collect a 5 percent fee for administering the rebates, and the AEP name would appear at the stations.

The station owner would be required to share charging data with AEP, including the prices charged for electricity. This data, aggregated to obscure personal information of consumers, would be available to researchers who want to study usage patterns.

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Press Release: AEP Ohio Settlement Plan Includes $10 Million Electric Vehicle Charging Station Rebate Program

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                              

August 28, 2017                                                                                         

                                                                                            

 

 AEP Ohio Settlement Plan includes $10 Million Electric Vehicle Charging Station Rebate Program 

ELPC and other enviro groups say program could boost EV car sales, encourage more U.S. investment in electric car technologies and reduce charging rates 

Columbus, Ohio — AEP Ohio late Friday filed a settlement plan with the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio that includes a $10 million electric vehicle charging station rebate program that will strengthen the charging infrastructure needed to get more EVs on the road.

“Installing hundreds of charging stations through the settlement plan has the potential to put Columbus on the map as a leader in bringing more electric vehicles to the Midwest,” said Robert Kelter, Senior Attorney with the Environmental Law & Policy Center. “Getting more electric vehicles on the road will reduce air pollution, encourage American companies to invest more in EV technologies, and reduce our reliance on dirty fossil fuels.”

AEP Ohio will create and operate the rebate incentive program, which will cover costs for up to 300 Level 2 charging stations and 75 DC Fast charging stations. This program supports the Smart Columbus Initiative.

“This settlement is great news and a great opportunity for everyone in AEP’s service territory,” Clean Fuels Ohio Executive Director Sam Spofforth said.  “This is a strong first step but it’s only a first step.  This program will provide everyone, including the PUCO, the opportunity to see what works here in Ohio.

At least 10% of both the Level 2 and DC Fast charging stations will be set aside for low-income geographic areas. In addition, charging stations will be allocated to public locations, workplace charging, and multi-unit dwellings.

The settlement plan calls for three or more hardware and software charging station companies to participate in the program.

“We hope having more charging station companies in the program will jumpstart competition and lead to a competitive market where charging prices are driven down,” said ELPC’s Kelter.

AEP filed this case to extend its current “Electric Security Plan” for providing service to Ohio customers through 2024. The plan could be approved by late 2017 or early 2018.

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The Detroit News: ELPC’s Learner says “This isn’t the Time for Halfway Measures” to Protect the Great Lakes from Asian Carp

The Detroit News

Army Corps Unveils $275 Million Plan to Battle Asian Carp
By Melissa Nann Burke

Environmental groups and Gov. Rick Snyder demanded immediate action on Monday after the Trump administration released a long-awaited report on a $275 million plan to control the invasive Asian carp before it reaches the Great Lakes.

The report by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers lays out tentative measures that include installing a new electric barrier to repel or stun the destructive fish and underwater speakers generating “complex noise” to deter them from traveling beyond the lock and dam at Brandon Road near Joliet, Illinois. It came after five months of prodding from bipartisan members of the Michigan delegation and others.

The Army Corps stopped short of recommending closure of the Brandon Road lock, citing the potential economic impact on the barge and shipping industry.

Snyder said Monday that steps laid out in the report “must be taken” to stop the advancing Asian carp, calling for “immediate, decisive action.”

“It is time for all the Great Lakes states and Canadian provinces — and all who care about the lakes — to come together to demand action at Brandon Road Lock and Dam, a critical pinch point for stopping invasive carp,” he said.

But construction is likely years away. The agency will collect public comments for 45 days, then begin a feasibility study, followed by reviews by federal and state agencies and a Chief of Engineers report, which is not expected until August 2019.

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Associated Press: ELPC’s Learner says It’s “Time for Serious Preventative Actions to Keep Asian Carp Out of the Great Lakes”

Report Proposes Steps to Keep Asian Carp out of Great Lakes
By John Flesher

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) — A federal report released Monday proposes a $275 million array of technological and structural upgrades at a crucial site in Illinois to prevent invasive Asian carp from reaching the Great Lakes and its vulnerable fish populations.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers outlined its tentative plan in a report that had been scheduled for release in February but was delayed by the Trump administration, drawing criticism from members of Congress and environmental groups.

It analyzes options for upgrading the Brandon Road Lock and Dam near Joliet, a complex on the Des Plaines River southwest of Chicago that is considered a bottleneck where defenses could be strengthened to prevent carp populations in the Mississippi River watershed from migrating into Lake Michigan.

Scientists say if the large, voracious carp become established in the Great Lakes, they could devastate the region’s $7 billion fishing industry by crowding out native species.

The Army corps said the plan outlined in the 488-page document is intended to block the path of invasive species “while minimizing impacts to waterway uses and users.” Elected officials and business leaders in Illinois and Indiana have said that significant changes to the Brandon Road complex could hamper cargo shipment on the busy waterway.

Among technologies the report endorses is using sound systems to create “complex noise” underwater that would deter fish from the Brandon Road area, plus installing a new approach channel and placing an electric barrier at its downstream end that would repel fish and stun them if they get too close. Brandon Road is several miles downstream from an existing barrier network.

Other measures would include installing water jets to wash away “small and stunned fish” that might be caught up around barges, plus a new lock where floating invasive species could be flushed away.

The report says the federal government would pay 65 percent of the costs project’s costs, with the rest coming from a “non-federal sponsor.”

The corps will take public comments on the report until Sept. 21. After a feasibility study and series of federal and state reviews, a final report is scheduled for release in August 2019. Congressional approval and funding would be required to get construction underway.

“The Army Corps report makes clear that it’s time for serious preventative actions to keep Asian carp out of the Great Lakes,” said Howard Learner, executive director of the Chicago-based Environmental Law and Policy Center. “The ecological and economic costs of further delays are not sensible or acceptable.”

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Toledo Blade: Report Proposes Plan to Deter Asian Carp From Entering Great Lakes

Report Proposes Plan to Deter Asian Carp From Entering Great Lakes
by Tom Henry

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is recommending the electrical barrier near Chicago that has been used to deter Asian carp from entering Lake Michigan be augmented with complex noise, water jets, an engineered channel, and other structural improvements such as a flushing lock, and a mooring area.

The Corps is not recommending a complete separation of the Great Lakes and Mississippi River watersheds, as many Great Lakes scientists and policy-makers, such as Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine and U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D., Toledo) have urged for years to provide optimal protection for the region’s $7 billion fishery. The issue has long pitted the Chicago-area shipping industry and Lake Erie sportsmen. The shipping industry wants the status quo while Lake Erie – which spawns more fish than the rest of the Great Lakes combined – could have the most to lose if Asian carp are able to colonize the lake system, regardless of the entry point.

The long-awaited, 488-page Corps report went online Monday at http://bit.ly/2vIibCN. Miss Kaptur pushed for its release after the Great Lakes congressional delegation learned the study was completed in early 2017 but that the Trump administration was keeping it from being made public.

Six alternatives were considered.

The Corps would pay for 65 percent of the estimated $275 million of work outlined, or $179 million. The other $96 million would be paid by non-federal sources. The focus area for the work is the Brandon Road Lock and Dam near Joliet, Ill.

In its report, the Corps called its plan the “Technology Alternative – Complex Noise with Electric Barrier” plan.

That option is recommended “because it meets the project objective by reducing the risk of Mississippi River basin [aquatic invasive species] establishment in the Great Lakes basin to the maximum extent possible, and it provides for continued navigation,” the Corps said in its report, adding that the plan “will be most effective if the electric dispersal barrier operates continuously at optimal parameters to deter fish.”

The Corps is taking comments on its recommendation until Sept. 21. It is making plans for two public meetings.

On June 22, a silver Asian carp – the type so sensitive to boat motor vibrations they flop out of water – was found nine miles from Lake Michigan near the T.J. O’Brien Lock and Dam, upstream from a series of electrical barriers designed to keep it out.

Howard Learner, Chicago-based Environmental Law & Policy Center director, said the report “makes clear it’s time for serious preventative actions to keep Asian carp out of the Great Lakes.”

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Great Lakes Now: Chicago Group Files Suit Over Lake Erie Pollution

Great Lakes Now

Chicago Group Files Suit Over Lake Erie Pollution

By Gary Wilson

With the peak algae season nearing, pressure is mounting on the federal government and Ohio to be more aggressive in combating nutrient pollution from farms that discharge to Lake Erie.

Last week the Chicago-based Environmental Law and Policy Center (ELPC) filed suit in Ohio alleging that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency failed to protect Lake Erie by not holding Ohio to its obligations under the Clean Water Act.

Specifically, the suit alleges that U.S. EPA should have disapproved Ohio’s list of officially designated “impaired waters” because western Lake Erie was not included.

“U.S. EPA illegally gave Ohio a pass on its obligation to recognize that harmful algal blooms are impacting more than just a few limited areas of Lake Erie,” said attorney Madeline Fleisher in an ELPC press release. Fleisher is based in Columbus, Ohio.

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WATCH Gary Wilson’s interview with ELPC’s Kevin Brubaker

Cleveland Plain Dealer: Environmentalists Sue EPA to Designate Ohio’s Portion of Lake Erie ‘impaired’

Environmentalists Sue EPA to Designate Ohio’s Portion of Lake Erie as “Impaired”

By Eric Heisig

CLEVELAND, Ohio — Advocacy groups are challenging the federal Environmental Protection Agency’s decision to accept Ohio’s assertion that its portion of Lake Erie does not meet the definition of impaired waters.

The Ohio EPA did not include the state’s open waters on a list of impaired waterways when it submitted the list to the U.S. EPA last fall.

The federal EPA approved the list May 17 and both the state and federal agencies’ decisions were met with criticism from environmentalists who say the designation is necessary to curb the encroachment of harmful algal blooms.

The Environmental Law & Policy Center and Advocates for a Clean Lake Erie contends in a lawsuit filed Tuesday that the federal EPA’s decision violates the Clean Water Act. More confounding is that the list of impaired waterways the state of Michigan submitted to the federal EPA included its portion of Lake Erie, and the agency approved Michigan’s list, the suit says.

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Sandusky (Ohio) Register: ELPC & Others Sue to Have Lake Erie Declared ‘Impaired’

Sandusky Register

Groups Sue to Have Lake Erie Declared “Impaired”

by Tom Jackson

SANDUSKY — Environmental groups have filed a lawsuit in federal court in Toledo, seeking to have the open waters of Lake Erie declared “impaired” under the provisions of the Clean Water Act.

The lawsuit essentially seeks to overturn the U.S. EPA’s decision to approve a declaration by the Ohio EPA that the open waters of the lake are not impaired. Michigan, however, has declared that the lake is impaired.

The groups argue that harmful algal blooms in Lake Erie, an annual event, have impaired the lake’s waters. Hundreds of thousands of people in Toledo were told not to drink the water in August 2014 after toxins from that year’s HAB poisoned the water supply.

An attorney involved in the lawsuit says that designating the lake as impaired would force stronger action to deal with harmful algal blooms.

“U.S. EPA illegally gave Ohio a pass on its obligation to recognize that harmful algal blooms are impacting more than just a few limited areas of Lake Erie,” said Madeline Fleisher, staff attorney in Columbus, Ohio, for the Environmental Law and Policy Center.

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Greenwire: Enviros Sue EPA Over Approving Ohio’s Lake Erie Plan

Greenwire
Enviros sue EPA over approving Ohio’s Lake Erie plan
By Ariel Wittenberg

In May, EPA approved Ohio EPA’s 2016 Integrated Water Quality Monitoring and Assessment Report, which found that certain sections of Lake Erie were “impaired,” a designation that has legal implications under the Clean Water Act.

Groups sued EPA to force a decision on the report. Now the Environmental Law & Policy Center and Advocates for a Clean Lake Erie are challenging that approval, filing a complaint today in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio.

The groups say that Ohio wrongly limited its impairment finding to shorelines and areas near drinking water intakes and that the open waters of Lake Erie are also impaired by the toxic algae blooms that have plagued the lake for many years. EPA, they say, approved Ohio’s determination without enough analysis.

“U.S. EPA rubber-stamped something that Ohio did that is not going to protect water quality in Lake Erie and isn’t fully recognizing a serious problem that the federal government is supposed to have a role in solving,” said a statement.

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