Press Release: Ohio Plan Fails to Address Main Cause of Toxic Algae in Lake Erie

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Judith Nemes (312) 795-3706
JNemes@elpc.org

Ohio Plan Fails to Address Main Cause of Toxic Algae in Lake Erie
Voluntary Standards Fall Short

Columbus, OH – Today, Governor Kasich’s administration released its highly anticipated implementation plan to curb Lake Erie’s toxic algae problem. While the plan includes a number of positive steps, it falls short of the actions needed to solve this problem.

“This so-called pathway to an ‘action plan’ proposes very little action beyond voluntary measures that simply are not enough to achieve Ohio’s 40% phosphorus reduction commitment,” said Madeline Fleisher, Staff Attorney at the Environmental Law & Policy Center, which submitted technical comments to the state before the draft plan was issued, along with the Ohio Environmental Council, Alliance for the Great Lakes and other allied groups. “It’s not just us saying so; the international body charged with monitoring implementation of the U.S.-Canada agreement to address nutrient pollution in the Great Lakes has released a draft report suggesting that real regulatory requirements are needed to effectively clean up toxic algae in Lake Erie.”

That group, the International Joint Commission, released a draft Triennial Assessment of Progress in January 2017 plainly stating that reduction of phosphorus discharges at the level necessary to prevent toxic algae blooms in the Great Lakes “is unlikely without the addition of enforceable standards to supplement voluntary stewardship.” Ohio’s minimal regulatory requirements for responsible phosphorus management don’t live up to that benchmark.

Some elements of Ohio’s newly released plan show improvement, especially the inclusion of more detailed plans for monitoring progress toward the 40% phosphorus reduction milestone.

While this change is a step in the right direction, the plan fails to adequately address agricultural pollution, the primary driver of toxic algae in Lake Erie. Instead, much of the plan relies on the same approaches that have failed to curb pollution from corporate agriculture in past years.

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