Environmental advocates don’t think new state Lake Erie nutrient guidelines go far enough

Environmental advocates don't think new state Lake Erie nutrient guidelines go far enough
Published: Jul. 14, 2023 at 7:50 PM EDT
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TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - Some environmental advocates are unhappy with some of the state’s new Lake Erie plans.

They say it really comes down to farm fields and places with large animal operations. One group of advocates is now hoping the federal government will step in.

In the fight to hopefully one day end the yearly algal bloom in Lake Erie, the Environmental Law and Policy Center went to federal court and scored a victory forcing the Ohio EPA to come up with a total maximum daily load or TMDL.

That’s an amount of nutrients that can go into Lake Erie. At the end of June, the Ohio EPA produced that TMDL.

“The TMDL does not comply with minimal legal requirements and will not lead to the remediation of Lake Erie,” Rob Michaels, Environmental Law & Policy Center.

Michaels says this EPA plan didn’t go far enough. The Ohio EPA’s director told the I-Team this document is meant to bring transparency and more discussions on ways to clean up the lake, but it’s not law.

“The TMDL is not a regulatory document. So it does not give us any additional regulatory authority over any producers,” Anne Vogel, Ohio EPA director said.

The law center believes this plan doesn’t create tangible targets to be met, doesn’t address dissolved reactive phosphorus and doesn’t regulate factory farms.

“The failure to require adequate reductions from industrial livestock operations that’s not optional either,” Michaels said.

Optional, Michaels says, for the Federal Clean Water Act. The United States EPA will now review this Ohio plan and decide if it’s good enough. The US EPA could say “no” and draw up its own regulations. Something environmental advocates hope to see, instead of what’s currently proposed.

“It’s just a recipe for more of the same,” Michaels said.

The US EPA has until the end of September to make its decision.

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