FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Judith Nemes
May 17, 2017
ELPC Sues EPA to Rule on Ohio EPA’s Impaired Water List
Environmental group also urges Ohio EPA to call western Lake Erie impaired
Columbus, OH – Today, the Environmental Law & Policy Center, along with its members Michael Ferner and Susan Matz (coordinators for Toledo grassroots environmental group Advocates for a Clean Lake Erie), sued the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in a federal court in Ohio to push the agency on a ruling it’s required to make on Ohio’s unwillingness to call Lake Erie “impaired.”
The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio against the EPA, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, and Region 5 Administrator Robert Kaplan. The EPA is required under the Clean Water Act to either approve or reject the Ohio EPA’s list of impaired waters announced earlier this year. Ohio EPA’s list includes only limited portions of western Lake Erie.
“ELPC filed a lawsuit in a district court in Toledo because this is the city where 500,000 lost their drinking water for 72 hours in 2014,” said Madeline Fleisher, ELPC staff attorney in Columbus, Ohio. “We also believe Ohio EPA is passing the buck by choosing to call only portions of Lake Erie impaired instead of the full open waters in the western basin. The first step to reducing toxic algae blooms in Lake Erie is to call attention to it with an impairment designation, then devise enforceable standards to make the water clean and safe.”
The EPA was required by law to act on the Ohio EPA impaired water list by November 19, 2016. The lawsuit holds the EPA accountable for its responsibilities under the Clean Water Act.
Earlier this year, Ohio Gov. Kasich’s Administration released an action plan for reducing nutrient pollution in Lake Erie, which contributes to toxic algae blooms that can endanger drinking water and make it unsafe for recreation. The plan was criticized for proposing very little action beyond voluntary measures that aren’t enough to achieve Ohio’s 40% phosphorus reduction commitment under the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement intended to clean up the Great Lakes.