Lake Erie
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency has decided to include Western Lake Erie in a list of impaired waters, due to the harmful algae blooms that plague the region every year.  The agency’s move comes after years of calls from environmentalists and a federal lawsuit.

It's been four years since an oil pipeline in Colerain Township ruptured, spewing thousands of gallons of crude down a hillside creek at Oak Glen Nature Preserve. In 2016, the focus shifted from cleaning the site, to restoration. That process is nearing completion.

The United States oil business is booming and the country could soon be the largest crude oil producer in the world. Despite this record-breaking production, climate change activists campaigning to move away from fossil fuels say they are making progress.

The U.S. is one of only a few countries in the world that allow private individuals to own the minerals under their land, a policy that dates to the Founding Fathers as they sought to elevate private interests over those of the British Crown. This financial incentive to allow new drilling goes a long way in explaining the nation's natural gas boom. The National Association of Royalty Owners estimates some 12 million American landowners receive royalties for the exploitation of oil, gas and other mineral resources under their property.

The nation's rush to increase oil production is having a long-distance impact on the Great Lakes region.

Geologic formations have given parts of the region ample deposits of sand, including the hard, round version that is used in fracking. Seen from space a few months ago by the Landsat 8 satellite, the light brown mines dot a landscape of green fields and forests. 

Pollution Cleanup Moves Ahead On Great Lakes

Mar 13, 2018
Caitlin Whyte / Great Lakes Today

Just off Lake Ontario in Irondequoit Bay, Dave Hulburt is doing some work at the BayCreek Paddling Center.

NASA Glenn Research Center

As Great Lakes advocates lobby Congress this week, a new report from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency details how the federal government and states plan to fight algae blooms in Lake Erie. But the agency isn't proposing more federal regulations to accomplish the task.

Many advocates for the Great Lakes are in Washington, D.C., this week to push back against President Trump's proposal to slash funding for the region. They want Congress to continue its bipartisan support on issues such as cleaning up pollution and protecting drinking water.