Environment

Debate over plastic bag ban or fee has many layers

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News Bowling Green City Council Chambers was packed Tuesday evening with people who have disdain for single-use plastic bags, and people who rely on them to do their jobs. The hearing was held by City Council’s Community Improvement Committee, made up of Mark Hollenbaugh, Bill Herald and John Zanfardino. Hollenbaugh explained the city is exploring a myriad of options for single-use plastic bags. Nine citizens voiced their support or opposition to possible plastic bag regulation in the city. Seven were in support, and two were against. Another hearing will be held March 4, at 6 p.m., in city council chambers, to give more citizens a chance to share their feelings. James Egan suggested that any fees raised be used to track the effect of a ban, since little data is available. Madi Stump said the plastic bag debate is a sustainability issue, and communities can learn to adapt to changes in their consumer cultures. Joe DeMare estimated that 150 municipalities across the nation have banned or charge fees for single-use plastic. The problem may seem overwhelming, but that doesn’t mean that communities should give up. “Plastic bags can be at the top of the list,” DeMare said. He mentioned the problem with blowing plastic bags at the Wood County Landfill, west of Bowling Green. An ordinance on bags can be an attempt to deal with a highly visible part of the overall problem. “Eventually, we’re going to have to deal with the entire iceberg,” DeMare said. Zanfardino said he was glad to see places like Cuyahoga County tackling the plastic bag problem. “I’m heartened to see other cities looking at this in Ohio,” he said. Tom Klein’s only reservation on the possible plastic bag ordinance is that it doesn’t go far enough. “We’re drowning in waste,” Klein said. And banning plastic bags makes people feel as if they are solving a problem. “They’re deceptive. They make us feel like we’re dealing with the problem.” But Robin Belleville, owner of BG Frosty Fare, said her business relies on the bags to send food orders home…

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Gardner talks funding, water, guns and abortion at town hall

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Since the lame duck session of state government usually brings some hasty legislative decisions, State Senator Randy Gardner spent Saturday morning conferring with his constituents. Always a history teacher at heart, Gardner tried to put the present in perspective by explaining past decisions. For two hours, he answered questions at his town hall meeting, then spent another hour talking with citizens individually. Though they didn’t always like his answers, the citizens at Saturday’s town hall meeting appreciated the willingness of the senator to hold a public gathering. “The next three weeks will be a really challenging time with big decisions,” said Gardner, a Republican from Bowling Green who has rotated between the state representative and senate seats since 1984. Adding to the unpredictability of the lame duck session will be the number of amendments tacked onto bills at the last moment. “Amendments will change the outcome of bills,” Gardner said. And it’s not unusual for amendments to present competing interests in the same bill, he added. Gardner has two of his own issues pending in the lame duck session. The Sierah Joughin bill creates a statewide database for law enforcement listing convicted violent offenders living in their jurisdictions. The bill is in response to the death of a 20-year-old woman from Fulton County, who was killed by a convicted violent felon. “I’m pretty optimistic,” this will pass, Gardner said. This bill has its critics, he said. Some feel the database could impede the rehabilitation of convicts. To better understand that criticism, Gardner said he met with Eddie Slade, who spent 31 years in prison for murder and burglary. “I have extra respect now for people who struggle to turn the lives around,” he said. But Sierah’s Law is in the best interest of communities, he said. Gardner’s other pending bill would “finally” see movement to get funding for the preservation of a healthy Lake Erie and help the agricultural community at the same time. Following are some of the other topics Gardner was asked…


Park District offers November events

From WOOD COUNTY PARK DISTRICT The Wood County Park District is offering a variety of programming during November including events tied to Native American Heritage Month. Ohio Certified Volunteer Naturalist Certification Program Tuesday, November 6; 7:00 – 9:00 pm Park District Headquarters 18729 Mercer Road, Bowling Green This informational session will explain the details of this excellent natural resources education program. Beginning in April, this certification program is coupled with community-based volunteer service. Sessions include many topics such as birds, interpretation, ecology, native plants, mammals, insects, geology, and more! Certification co-sponsored by OSU Extension.Register at www.wcparks.org, or call (419) 353-1897   Turkey Tomfoolery Thursday, November 8, 6:00 – 7:30 pm Otsego Park Thompson Stone Hall 20000 W. River Road, Bowling Green Wild turkeys are being seen much more frequently here in Wood County. Bring the kids out to learn about one of the largest birds in our parks, we will finish the evening with some games and fun activities. Register at www.wcparks.org, or call (419) 353-1897   EcoLit Book Group Meeting Thursday, November 8, 7:00 – 9:00 pm W.W. Knight Nature Preserve Friends’ Green Room 29530 White Road, Perrysburg For this meeting, please read Mind of the Raven by Bernd Heinrich. Group meets once a month. Register for any or all. Discussion leader: Cheryl Lachowski, Senior Lecturer, BGSU English Dept. and Ohio Certified Volunteer Naturalist (OCVN). Register at www.wcparks.org, or call (419) 353-1897   Wild Skills: Shelter-Skelter Saturday, November 10; 10:00 – 11:30 am W.W. Knight Nature Preserve 25930 White Road, Perrysburg Be prepared for when your adventure turns south. Having a shelter to get out of the elements can be a life saver! Get hands on and learn to build one using only the nature around you. Register at www.wcparks.org, or call (419) 353-1897   The Native American Experience Tuesday, November 13; 7:00 – 8:00 pm Otsego Park: Thompson Stone Hall 20000 W. River Road, Bowling Green What was life like for Native Americans as they coped with pressure from European settlers? Join guest speaker Taylor Moyer, Toledo School of the Arts humanities teacher and living historian, as he…


Federal funds put BGSU at the center of Lake Erie research

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Bowling Green State University Monday announced the launch of the Lake Erie Center for Fresh Waters and Human Health. BGSU will lead the collaboration with nine other universities and research institutions. The project is being funded by a $5.2 million federal grant from the National Institute of Health and the National Science Foundation. The physical hubs for the research will be the University of Toledo’s Lake Erie Center and Ohio State University’s Stone Lab. BGSU faculty member George Bullerjahn will direct the center and serve as lead researcher. Bullerjahn said the center is an outgrowth of the collaborations that started after the Toledo Water Crisis of 2014. That event “brought a bunch of scientists together who found they had complementary interests, and they liked each other,” he said. “What this does is it allows a very talented team of diversely trained scientist to work together for a long period of time and with more resources.” Though the research has been ongoing in many different institutions since the Western Basin of Lake Erie captured national attention, many questions remain. “One gap we have is we know the water turns green, but we can’t predict how green the water will get or how toxic it may get,” Bullerjahn said.   Researchers will be looking at what causes algal blooms, and what kills them, and the mechanisms that turn them toxic.  “You can look at a body of water that’s quite green, and it may not be toxic at all,” Bullerjahn said. “If you look at the 2014 Toledo Water Crisis, the water was not that green. It was a minor bloom. But it was toxic as hell. How do you sort that out? So that’s one of the things we’re working on. … Can we predict when the bloom forms and when they decline?” Bullerjahn described himself as “optimistic and patient.” The problem cannot be solved in a year or two, but “we’ll be in better shape in 10 years,” he said.  “I think we’re understanding more and more  about the terrestrial issues and what land…


Neocles Leontis: A vote for Galbraith for Congress is an important step in combating the nightmare of climate change

The 5th District deserves Michael Galbraith as people’s Representative in the U.S. Congress. He will work to protect our children from the ravages of climate disruption, unlike Bob Latta, who takes thousands of dollars every year from the outdated fossil fuel industry and shields his donors from the full cost of the harmful pollution they cause. Latta and his party provide wasteful subsidies to Big Oil, Coal and Gas, distorting our free market system, so we can’t transition as quickly as we must to a 21st century economy based on clean, cheap renewable energy. Unless we start to bend the curve on carbon emissions downward, by no later than 2020, global warming, already 2°F above average levels of the 20th century, will quickly surpass 3°F and then 4°F under the business-as-usual scenario promoted by the inaction of Bob Latta and his cronies. Our children will be condemned to a dangerous nightmare world, in which one climate tipping point trips another, like dominoes, starting with disruption of the jet stream, happening now, to complete melting of Arctic Ice in summer, coming soon, to more rapid melting of the Greenland Ice Sheet into the North Atlantic, collapse of the Gulf Stream current, loss of mountain glaciers that people rely on for drinking water all over the globe, eventual drying out of the Amazon Forest, the “lungs” of our atmosphere, which we rely on to replenish the oxygen we breathe, and uncontrollable release of carbon into the atmosphere as the vast tundra lands of Canada and Russia melt, threatening “runaway” global warming. As a result, the oceans are warming rapidly, causing more and more powerful and “very wet”* hurricanes, think Harvey, Maria, and Florence. Sea levels are rising ever faster and will flood our coastal cities – Miami, Norfolk, Baltimore, Washington, Boston, New York, Seattle and Los Angeles. Our farmlands are already experiencing hotter more unpredictable weather and longer, more frequent droughts, threatening food supplies. Hotter and more destructive wildfires, “fire tornadoes,” are ravaging our western states, destroying entire neighborhoods and towns, killing Americans in their beds before they can escape, and destroying…


Utopia pipeline uses existing line to cross Wood County

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   One of the three pipelines crossing through Wood County found a different route – allowing it to transport its product without digging a single new trench through local fields. Rather than plowing its own route through the county, the Utopia pipeline built by Kinder-Morgan ended up using an under-utilized existing pipeline to pump ethane from the east side of Ohio to Sarnia, Ontario. “You’re not going to see that,” Allen Fore, Kinder-Morgan public affairs vice president, said recently as he sat in Kermit’s Restaurant and looked outside at the torn up pavement for the Columbia Gas project in downtown Bowling Green. The $540 million Utopia pipeline, which is capturing the gas being flared away from fracking in southeastern Ohio, has been in operation since January. But before Kinder-Morgan officials found the existing line to use, its route for the Utopia pipeline ran into court battles from Wood County landowners. Last year, local landowners who dug in their heels against Utopia’s eminent domain efforts won the battle to keep the pipeline from crossing their properties. Maurice Thompson, of the 1851 Center for Constitutional Law which represented 26 Wood County landowners, said the use of existing pipelines is the best solution. “That’s what we’ve argued all along,” Thompson said. “Use existing pipelines instead of taking more land.” The proposed Utopia line would have run 21 miles through Wood County – south of Pemberville, then north of Bowling Green, then crossing the Maumee River south of Waterville. It would have affected 67 landowners on 117 tracts of land. “Sometimes these things start as adversarial and end in a good way,” Fore said. Meanwhile, two other new pipelines have been constructed through Wood County in the past year. The Rover pipeline cuts through the southern portion of the county, and the Nexus pipeline runs north of Bowling Green. The repurposing of a pipeline worked well for Kinder-Morgan and local landowners. The project started with 147 miles of pipeline being constructed from Harrison County to Seneca County. There the new line connected with the repurposed pipeline for…


Hold the tuna — ocean explorer Sylvia Earle offers recipe for saving the sea

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Sylvia Earle wants to take tuna off the menu. The same with swordfish and orange roughy. The appetite for fish is depleting the fish population, and that disrupts the ecosystem of the ocean, and that’s a threat to the human population. Large scale commercial fishing is one of many attack on the oceans. “We’ve become so skilled at extracting wild life from oceans, streams and lakes that we’re seeing an unprecedented decline in population,” the marine biologist and explorer said. Earle was at Bowling Green State University Tuesday to give a talk based on her book “The World Is Blue.”  When she was a child, she said, people couldn’t see Earth from outer space. Now children grow up knowing the photo of the blue planet. Yet humans are just coming round to understanding the importance of protecting those vast blue stretches. “No ocean,” Earle said,” no us. No blue, no green. We need water.” Those oceans, whether saltwater or the vast freshwater bodies such as Lake Superior, rely on intricate systems. Just like a computer, removing one small part means it doesn’t work so well. “The attitude has been the ocean is too big to fail,” Earle said. But “never before has the change happened so rapidly or as comprehensively.” Except, she added, 65 million years ago when a comet hit Earth. Those changes have brought increased prosperity for humans, but not so much for wildlife, except cockroaches and rats. That period has also been a great age for exploration. Only in the last several decades could people venture beyond where light penetrates, into the dark depths of the ocean. Earle was on the forefront as the first woman aquanaut. She had to convince officials that a woman could handle the job. Now she’s one of the most prominent explorers. In 1986 when she went on her first mission she was the only woman among 79 men. Recent photos she projected as part of her talk included a larger number of women. The vastness of the ocean leaves much to explore. The average depth is…