New Poll Reveals NW Ohioans’ Willingness to Support Regulatory Actions on Large Animal Feeding Operations to Reduce Toxic Algae Blooms in Western Lake Erie

New Poll Reveals NW Ohioans’ Willingness to Support Regulatory Actions on Large Animal Feeding Operations to Reduce Toxic Algae Blooms in Western Lake Erie

Gov. DeWine must keep Ohio’s promise and commitment under Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement to reduce phosphorus in Lake Erie by 40% by 2025 and 20% progress by 2020

CHICAGO – Nationally-recognized pollster J. Ann Selzer‘s new poll of 500 voters in northwest Ohio for the Environmental Law & Policy Center (ELPC) found that after respondents learn about the connection of manure runoff pollution from concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs), they support regulatory actions to help alleviate the toxic algae blooms impacting safe clean water in Lake Erie. Specifically, the majority of respondents were willing to support a moratorium on new or expanding CAFOs as well as regulations on permitting existing CAFOs. Issues around safe clean water and the impact on the Great Lakes economy resonated strongly among respondents. And a majority said they would consider this issue when it comes time to vote.

“The poll results show that Ohioans are fed up with toxic algae blooms in western Lake Erie and understand that reducing manure runoff pollution from CAFOs is necessary to achieve safe clean water,” said Howard Learner, Executive Director of the Environmental Law & Policy Center. “Governor DeWine must keep Ohio’s promise and commitment under the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement to reduce phosphorus entering Lake Erie by 40% by 2025 with a 20% reduction for interim progress by 2020.”

The poll results show:

  • Safe clean water is the #1 issue for people (92%)
  • While people have generally heard about algae blooms, they initially don’t know much about the causes, or about CAFO’s, or if CAFOs are regulated.
  • After the participants hear the pro and con arguments about reducing manure runoff pollution from CAFOs, their willingness to support a moratorium grows to 59%.
  • 59% also favoring expanding the permitting process to include more CAFOs.
  • When considering who to vote for, 59% said they would lean towards the candidate who favors a moratorium of and more regulation on CAFOs.

Phosphorus pollution from agricultural runoff – excess fertilizer from crops, and manure from CAFOs — is considered the largest cause of harmful algae blooms in western Lake Erie. The Ohio EPA’s analysis found that the agricultural sector is responsible for 88% of the phosphorus pollution in the Maumee River watershed entering Western Lake Erie. Although crop fertilizer is widely cited as the main culprit, a report ELPC released this spring with the Environmental Working Group showed the significant growth of CAFOs and manure runoff from those operations into the Maumee River watershed plays a much larger role in algae bloom formations in western Lake Erie than was previously known. Moreover, ELPC’s methodology for the report using publicly-available satellite imagery revealed many identified CAFOs are not permitted by Ohio’s Department of Agriculture.

The recent poll results show that when Ohioans learn more about the growth of CAFOs and their manure runoff contributing to the algae bloom problem, voters will support Ohio public officials that back actions that include freezes on new CAFOs. The poll reflects the views of 500 Ohioans from Erie, Lucas, Ottawa and Sandusky Counties, who represent a broad cross-section of the population and political parties.

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