Do we now have a kinder, more environmentally gentle governor?
You might think so after reading the high praise awarded Tuesday to Republican Gov. John Kasich by one of the state’s leading environmental groups.
Always at each others throats the state’s environmentalists and Kasich likely do not send each other Christmas cards.
Yet on Tuesday along came an exception that proves the rule.
This is when the Ohio Environmental Council had nothing but good things to say about Kasich who signed into law the so-called “Mid-Biennium Review Bill.” This measure includes a $42 million appropriation for the Clean Ohio Fund.
As a short history lesson the Clean Ohio Fund was approved by the state’s voters in 2000 and became law the same year. It is fueled by bonds, not direct taxes, and was reauthorized by voters a few years later.
Initially, Ohio allocated $400 million to help clean up abandoned industrial sites, preserve farmland, acquire land for greenspace and also to build recreation trails.
Over the years the Fund’s financial assets have conserved 26,000 acres of natural areas, preserved 20,000 acres of family farms and created 216 miles of recreation trails.
In the official parlance issued by the Ohio Environmental Agency, the Clean Ohio Fund “Provides four competitive funds which serve to preserve greenspace, retain farmland, create recreational trails and clean up brownfields and return them to productive use. Ohio EPA’s Site Assistance and Brownfield Revitalization Program assists the Ohio Department of Development with the management of the Clean Ohio Revitalization Fund and the Clean Ohio Assistance Fund.”
The Ohio EPA staff also provides technical assistance to applicants during the application process and project implementation, assist in the review of applications with regard to proposed remedies and applicable standards, and review completed cleanups for compliance with applicable standards.
Kasich’s recent action will - says the pro-environmental group - provide $36 million in funding for the Clean Ohio Conservation Fund “for acquisition of open space for parkland, river corridor protection, and natural area preservation and $6 million for preservation of prime farmland through the Clean Ohio Agricultural Easement Fund.”
The governor’s approval on Tuesday of $42 million along with $6 million approved last year brings the total approval of Clean Ohio Fund funding to $48 million under the Kasich Administration, says the environmentalists as well.
“We are thrilled that Gov. Kasich has approved this good green investment in parkland and farmland,” said Keith Dimoff, the environmental group’s executive director. “This is a solid investment that will pay dividends for nature, families, farmers, and employers, alike.”
Dimoff said also that the Clean Ohio Fund has a “solid track record in every county of the state, helping set aside parkland and open space, build recreation trails, and preserve prime farmland.”
“This is good, bipartisan government at its best, and we salute Gov. Kasich for giving our lawmakers’ good effort his green housekeeping seal of approval,” Dimoff said.
Wow, my head is still spinning after being rocked by this high praise of an administration that up until now was the bane of Ohio’s environmental community. I guess pink pigs really DO fly after all.
Jeffrey L. Frischkorn