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Lake Erie Advocates drop from lawsuit, say it doesn’t do enough

Published: Dec. 2, 2021 at 8:25 PM EST
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TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - A group pushing hard to clean up Lake Erie will now be dropping out of the lawsuit.

The reason is to show people how little Lake Erie Advocates believe is actually being done to cure the lake’s algae issues.

The group says by no means is it backing off its work to clean up Lake Erie and bring awareness to its issues. They just don’t think the federal lawsuit was ultimately the answer.

By now everyone knows the green algae issues plaguing Lake Erie. The Lake Erie Advocates tried to do something about it. They sued the US Environmental Protection Agency to enforce the Clean Water Act and create a total maximum daily load of phosphorus that was allowed in the lake.

“We’re getting snookered. We think the Clean Water Act is going to save Lake Erie and in fact, it’s not going to because the system is corrupt because the law doesn’t do what we hope it would do,” said Mike Ferner with the Lake Erie Advocates

Those advocates are now dropping out of the lawsuit. The reason is to get the public’s attention that the suit turned out to be not enough.

Ferner says as a settlement got closer, the proposed solutions like cover crops and drainage management are insufficient.

“There’s no point in trying to get the EPA’s attention because they have a program. They’re going to do what they’re going to do and we’ve seen how poor their recommendations are to take care of the problem,” said Ferner.

“The decision from the Lake Erie Advocates to withdraw from this lawsuit shows the unapologetic courage not yet found in our courts,” said Markie Miller of Lake Erie Advocates.

They believe the real issues are huge factory farms in the watershed. Manure and waste they produce end up creating the phosphorus that fuels the algae bloom.

Until real change is made in that run-off, the group believes the lake won’t see significant change.

“So that you don’t have 3,900 cows at one dairy farm putting out the amount of waste of five towns around here. But what the means is you have to change what the industry looks like and that’s what the EPA does not want to do,” said Ferner.

“Blind obedience in the face of our demise through the legalized and monitored pollution of Lake Erie is not only unacceptable but a crime against future generations,” said Miller.

The lawsuit will still move on as Lucas County remains a plaintiff and so does the Environmental Law and Policy Center out of Chicago.

A settlement to the case is still expected to be approved later this month.

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