Court of appeals rules in favor of Lake Erie Bill of Rights

 Blue green algae bloom in Lake Erie, Ohio, Photo Date: 2009 (NASA image)
Blue green algae bloom in Lake Erie, Ohio, Photo Date: 2009 (NASA image) (WNDU)
Published: Oct. 2, 2020 at 12:56 PM EDT
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TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - The groups supporting the Lake Erie Bill of Rights live to fight another day.

On Thursday, an Ohio court of appeals reversed a previous trial court order, ruling residents suing to enforce the Lake Erie Bill of Rights and hold the State of Ohio accountable for its failure to protect Lake Erie have stated a legitimate claim.

Toledo voters approved the bill in a special election in 2019, passing with 61 percent of the vote. It was immediately challenged by the Drewes Farm Collective, which said that LEBOR was a liability to its business.

In February, a federal judge ruled the law null and void in an eight-page ruling, citing vagueness and overreach of power.

In his ruling, Judge Jack Zouhary said that “[w]ith careful drafting, Toledo probably could enact valid legislation to reduce water pollution.”

Since then, the City of Toledo withdrew its petition to appeal the ruling.

The LEBOR follows the 2014 water crisis in Toledo and the continued toxic algae bloom the western part of the Lake experiences each year. The bill says it “establishes irrevocable rights for the Lake Erie Ecosystem to exist, flourish and naturally evolve, a right to a healthy environment for the residents of Toledo, and which elevates the rights of the community and its natural environment over powers claimed by certain corporations.”

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