Press Release

New Poll Shows NW Ohioans Want Action on CAFOs and Lake Erie

Governor DeWine must keep Ohio’s promise and commitment under Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement to reduce this pollution into Lake Erie by 40% by 2025.

TOLEDO – Nationally-recognized pollster J. Ann Selzernew poll of 50voters in northwest Ohio for the Environmental Law & Policy Center (ELPC) found that an overwhelming majority of respondents favor strong enforceable regulatory actions to reduce phosphorus pollution – principally manure from concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) and commercial fertilizers on crop fields – that flows into western Lake Erie, causing severe recurring toxic algae outbreaks and impaired waters. This new poll reinforces and strengthens the main findings of a similar poll that Selzer’s firm conducted for ELPC in 2019.   

Additionally, the majority of respondents were willing to support a moratorium on new or expanding CAFOs as well. 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 recurring toxic algae outbreaks in Lake Erie and strongly support enforceable regulatory standards needed to reduce manure and commercial fertilizer runoff pollution enough to clean up the Lake,” said Howard Learner, Executive Director of the Environmental Law & Policy Center. “Governor DeWine should live up to his and Ohio’s commitment under Annex 4 of the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement to reduce the phosphorus pollution entering Lake Erie by 40% by 2025. That requires stepping up with effective regulatory standards. Sound science and practical experience show that voluntary measures, alone, are insufficient to clean up and solve the Lake Erie contaminated waters problems.” 

Agricultural runoff pollution – excess fertilizer from crop fields, and manure from CAFOs – is responsible for 88% of the phosphorus pollution in the Maumee River watershed causing harmful algae blooms in western Lake Erie according to the Ohio EPA’s own analysis.  A report that ELPC and the Environmental Working Group released in 2019 showed significantly more new CAFOs, and that the manure runoff into the Maumee River watershed is an increasingly growing share of the pollution, and is making a bad problem worse.  Moreover, ELPC’s methodology for the report using publicly available satellite imagery revealed that many CAFOs are not even permitted by Ohio’s Department of Agriculture.  

The recent poll results support: 

  • Call for Governor DeWine and Ohio to live up to their commitment to reduce phosphorus pollution in Lake Erie by 40% by 2025 according to the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement (GLWQA), Annex 4. 
  • Adoption of enforceable regulatory standards to reduce manure and commercial fertilizer in order to achieve the GLWQA Annex 4 pollution reduction target, recognizing that voluntary measures alone are not sufficient to alleviate severe recurring toxic algae outbreaks and clean up Lake Erie. 
  • Adoption of a CAFO moratorium and a permit system that works in practice and is not evaded or gamed.  

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