April 12, 2018
TOLEDO, Ohio — U.S. District Judge James G. Carr issued a decision late Wednesday directing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to make clear, within 30 days, its position on the impairment of Lake Erie’s open waters. The Court’s order recognized that an “about face” at the 11th hour by U.S. EPA in January 2018 had effectively “adopted and endorsed” the Environmental Law & Policy Center’s argument in its lawsuit that the U.S. EPA’s initial approval of Ohio’s failure to determine open waters of Lake Erie are impaired by pollution violated the Clean Water Act.
Judge Carr held that U.S. EPA’s “legal maneuvering” in withdrawing its original decision at the last minute created a “whiff of bad faith” – after years of delay – in order to defer a final ruling at this time.
“The time for Ohio pollution reduction standards and actions is now,” said Howard Learner, ELPC’s Executive Director. “As Judge Carr stated in his Opinion: ‘That would mean that much sooner, rather than later, the right of all persons dependent upon a clean, toxic-algae-free Lake Erie for access to safe drinking water could be accomplished and guaranteed.’
“We’re pleased that the federal district court directed U.S. EPA to comply with the Clean Water Act and make a clear determination within 30 days that Lake Erie’s open waters are impaired by pollution,” Learner said. “The court agreed with our legal position that U.S. EPA and Ohio EPA have improperly dragged their feet for years instead of stepping up to take prompt and necessary actions to protect Lake Erie from toxic algae blooms.
“The judge’s decision requires the U.S. EPA and Ohio EPA to issue strong standards to prevent pollution from agricultural runoff in order to avoid toxic algae blooms and protects safe clean drinking water in Lake Erie for people in the Toledo area,” Learner said.
Environmental Law & Policy Center, Advocates for a Clean Lake Erie and two of the group’s officers are co-plaintiffs in the lawsuit.
Read Judge Carr’s order here.