Gov. John Kasich chose a deck at the Great Lakes Science Center in Cleveland to sign a new bill aimed at protecting Lake Erie. Senate Bill 2 will expand the power of the Ohio EPA, but it’s also aimed at helping businesses.
Two years ago, the governor signed S.B 1 to prevent the dumping of dredged river material into Lake Erie. Now Kasich has signed S.B. 2 to help find a market for that sediment.
“We want to take care of our environment,” Kasich said. “We don’t want to worship it but we want to be good stewards of it.”
The dumping ban came because the dredged material often contains toxins. But under the new law, the Ohio EPA would analyze and classify it for other uses.
Will Friedman of the Cleveland Port Authority says sediment has a lot of potential.
“Instead of land-filling sediment as waste, or worse yet dumping it in the lake where it can contaminate the food chain and drinking water, we now harvest and sell much of it as a valuable construction commodity,” Friedman says.
A water crisis in Toledo three years ago sparked a flurry of environmental laws, says Bill Stanley of the Nature Conservancy.
“The Toledo algae bloom certainly lit a fire under people and really stimulated a lot action,” Stanley says. “You hate to have a crisis like that, but you say you don’t let a good crisis go to waste, right?”
S.B 2 also gives the Ohio EPA the power to regulate companies that recycle construction and demolition debris.