Friday, June 24, 2011

Ohio legislature selling off state's outdoors legacy

The present Ohio General Assembly is environmentally soulless.

And as (charitably said) as confused a governor as was past Ohio chief executive Bob Taft at least the state’s natural resources had a chance during his eight-year tenure.

Not so now with the Republican-controlled Ohio House and state Senate. Both legislative bodies are in a full-swing mode to turn the environmental clock back to at least the 19th Century.

If allowing drilling in Ohio’s state parks and wildlife areas - our crown jewels - were not enough the Ohio legislature is bound and determined to also siphon off as much water from Lake Erie as humanly possible.

A bill that allows businesses to withdraw millions upon millions of additional gallons of water from Ohio’s most valuable natural resource passed by a 60-39 pretty much-party line vote this week in the state House.

Opposing Sub. H.B. 231 is Taft. This week he spoke before a state Senate committee, pleading with the legislators for the better angels of their nature to step forward and thus kill the bill.

Fat chance, as it turns out. This is a single-minded body led by a single-party legislative branch that is heck-bent on stripping Ohio’s rich array of valuable riches. Plunder would be a better word.

Just listen to what the measure’s leading proponent - state Rep. Lynn Wachtmann (R Napoleon) - is quoted to have said: “Water is money.” and “I think (Taft) was more an environmentally friendly governor than a business-friendly governor.”

Perhaps, but I’d rather carry the “environmentally friendly” badge when it comes to Lake Erie.

Fact is, the Ohio legislature’s scheme to allow the withdrawal of millions more gallons of water may very well violate the terms of the Great Lakes Compact.

Not that there are legal penalties involved since the document is really just a gentleman’s agreement. With that being said, should one state choose to ignore their own document signature than all of the other states are free to ignore them as well.

And that’s bad government, bad for the environment along with being really, really bad for our children and grandchildren.

This measure almost certainly will pass, however, given the current political climate of one-party rule in Ohio.

Yet it speaks volumes of how our elected representative view caring for and managing our state’s natural resources.

Simply put, there are now not even any speed bumps - let alone a brick wall - to retard the dismantling of Ohio’s outdoors/environmental legacy.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

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