Environment

Solar site puts BG on the map for green energy

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green is now second only to Oberlin in Ohio for the percentage of renewable power in its energy portfolio. As if on cue, the rain stopped and the sun came out for the dedication of the new Bowling Green solar field on Thursday afternoon. The 165-acre solar field, which started producing power earlier this year, is the largest solar site in Ohio. And with a portion of the solar field’s product coming to Bowling Green, the city can now boast the second highest percentage of renewable energy in the state. “I applaud Bowling Green for its forward thinking,” said Pam Sullivan, executive vice president of American Municipal Power. The solar field, near the corner of Carter and Newton roads northeast of Bowling Green, has 85,000 solar panels that soak up the sun to generate power. The panels rotate with the sun so they can create more energy. On sunny days, the site can peak at 20 megawatts. The portion going to Bowling Green will supply 5 percent of the city’s energy needs. The addition of the solar field means approximately 40 percent of the city’s energy portfolio is now renewable. “Everyone from Bowling Green should be very proud of that statistic,” Sullivan said. The city earned the nickname “Blowing” Green when it had wind turbines installed, Sullivan said. Now it has truly earned the “Green” portion of its name, she added. It’s been a long journey for the city to go so green, said Brian O’Connell, public utilities director for the city. It started in 1999, when the city first purchased…


Pipeline panel set to answer questions from BG

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   For months now, Bowling Green officials have listened to opposing sides of the Nexus pipeline. Mayor Dick Edwards has been particularly frustrated by the conflicting “science” being presented on both sides of the issue. So in an effort to find the facts about the potential risk of the pipeline on Bowling Green’s water treatment plant, the mayor is bringing together a panel of experts on the topic. The panel discussion on the natural gas pipeline and its potential impact on the city’s water source will be held May 8, beginning at 4 p.m., in the council chamber, 304 N. Church St. The discussion will not focus on whether or not the pipeline should be constructed, but whether it poses risks to the city’s water treatment plant, Edwards said. “I want to really focus in on the water treatment plant and the geology,” the mayor said. Edwards is also hoping that any concerns that need to be thoroughly explored are identified during the panel discussion, so the city can notify the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission of the issues. “I’m not naïve that a lot of people are concerned about pipelines in general,” the mayor said. But the panel discussion will focus on the proximity of the pipeline to the water plant. The panel will consist of Dr. Charles Onasch, retired professor emeritus of geology at BGSU; Dr. Andrew Kear, assistant professor of political science and environment and sustainability at BGSU; Mark Baranoski, retired geologist with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources; and Stephen Champa, a senior hygrologist for Eagon & Associates. Steve Kendall,…


Pipeline forced to pay after bulldozing historic home in eastern Ohio

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Rover Pipeline will be financing some historical projects here in Wood County as punishment for demolishing a historic structure along its route in another county in eastern Ohio. The historic Stoneman House built in 1843 near Leesville, Ohio — which was eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places — was demolished by the Rover Pipeline, a company building a natural gas pipeline across Ohio. Since the Rover line will be crossing through southern Wood County, a portion of the penalty Rover was forced to pay will finance some historical projects here. On Thursday, Wood County Historical Center Director Dana Nemeth will present a couple ideas for the funding to the county commissioners. The money could be used to make repairs in the historic asylum on the grounds of the county historical center. The building has some water problems causing damage to the walls. The funding could also be used to provide additional and more effective signage around the museum grounds. The pipeline money may help free up historical society funding for other projects at the Wood County Historical Center, according to Nemeth. “It looks like we might be able to do more restoration on other buildings since we have this money,” Nemeth said. Those buildings may include the site’s powerhouse and the hog barn. Any proposals for the funding must be submitted to the state historic preservation office. “As long as they give their blessing, it should be good,” Nemeth said. Rover tore down the Stoneman House before notifying the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, even though the commission had…


“Ohio has already been designated as the sacrifice zone for fracking”

By LEATRA HARPER Most Ohioans have no idea of the destruction of the states’ clean air and water taking place right now in the Southeast part of the state in which the extreme energy extraction method of horizontal hydraulic fracturing (fracking) is taking place and has been for over five years. Once the huge pipeline infrastructure like Energy Transfer’s Rover pipeline and the Williams/Spectra Nexus pipeline are in commission, fracking will take off even more. The pipelines themselves threaten our drinking water and clear cut our forests, spoiling agricultural land and polluting the air with their compressor stations. The pipelines steal private property through the use of eminent domain and threats and false promises made to landowners. Ohio has already been designated as the sacrifice zone for fracking and its toxic, radioactive waste, with Ohio land fills and injection wells solving the industry’s biggest problem on the cheap. It is becoming widely documented of the environmental damage and health impacts of fracking, with a recent study showing an increase in infant mortality likely due to water polluted by fracking with an addition 50 infant deaths as a result (http://www.theecologist.org/News/news_round_up/2988876/fracking_kills_newborn_babies_polluted_water_likely_cause.html). The pipelines will cause even more death and destruction. A climate bus leaves from NW Ohio in Bluffton this Friday at 8 p.m. (for tickets click) for the Peoples’ Climate March in Washington D.C..  We have many reasons to march for the climate and against extreme energy extraction.  When Rover ramps up, Ohio’s clean air and water will be sacrificed for fracking. When the LLC’s take their spoils and leave, Ohio taxpayers will be on the hook to clean up the mess,…


It’s official – spring has sprung in BG city parks

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   If the warm temperatures didn’t give it away, the activity at the city’s parks is proof that spring is here. The prices have been set for concession stand hot dogs and ice cream cones at the city pool. The skate park has been repaired and is ready to roll. The outdoor restrooms are open for business. And the invasive garlic mustard weeds are being yanked out by the handfuls. The Bowling Green Parks and Recreation Board heard Tuesday evening about all the preparations underway for summer. At the pool, new splash pad creatures are being installed. And the board voted to raise some prices in the pool concession stand. “Any slight raise will help our bottom line,” said Parks and Recreation Department Director Kristin Otley. Postcards will be sent out next week to season pass holders at the pool, to remind them to renew their passes for this summer. Also in City Park, Ivan Kovacevic, the recreation coordinator, is preparing for day camps that keep kids busy every summer. This year will be a little different, he said, with the mornings again following certain themes, but later in the day kids will spend three afternoons in the pool and two playing sports. The summer activity brochures can be found online and in several city and park locations around town. May 1 is the start of signup for city residents, and May 15 is the start for non-residents. Also in City Park, the annual Friday lunches and concerts in the park are being scheduled. And repairs to the skate park have been completed….


Falcons hatch in courthouse clock tower

From BGSU OFFICE OF MARKETING & COMMUNICATIONS Bowling Green welcomed its newest falcons to town Saturday and Sunday (April 22-23). Two of four peregrine falcon eggs hatched Saturday in the clock tower of the Wood County Courthouse. The first view of a hatched egg was around 8 p.m. on the Falcon Cam, www.bgsu.edu/falconcam, which is provided by a partnership between the Wood County Commissioners and Bowling Green State University. The third egg hatched early Sunday morning with the fourth hatching sometime before Monday. “This year mom falcon chose to lay her eggs in a better viewing location for people watching the Falcon Cam,” said Andrew Kalmar, Wood County administrator. “From year to year it has been fascinating to watch the young falcons hatch and grow, as well as watch the parents fly, hunt and teach their young. We are truly fortunate they chose the Courthouse as home base.” It’s well known that the peregrine falcon is BGSU’s official mascot. Seven years ago, a pair of the raptors took refuge in the clock tower located just two blocks west of campus. “We’re happy the peregrine falcons have made it a tradition of calling Bowling Green home,” said Dave Kielmeyer, chief marketing and communications officer of BGSU. “It’s fitting that the falcons have formed a unique bond with the town and University.” The first egg was laid March 14, and there’s typically a 33-day gestation period. For more information about the peregrine falcons in the courthouse clock tower, go to www.bgsu.edu/falconcam.


Farms are victims, & part of the solution, as climate changes

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Farmers are in the crosshairs of climate change. The climate is moving south, said Neocles Leontis, one of the founders of the Black Swamp Green Team. That means as the years go by our weather will be more like what we associate with areas further south, and that means problems for agriculture. The Black Swamp Green team is a loose-knit alliance of faith communities, advocacy groups, non-profits, and individuals that promotes energy efficiency, renewal energy, and sustainability. As Pastor Deb Conklin, of Peace Lutheran said: “Who we are is whoever shows up when we make a decision.” On Sunday the team hosted the Creation Celebration at Peace Lutheran. The event focused on agriculture, the challenges it faces, the ways of addressing those challenges, and its role in combating climate change. Alan Sundermeier, of the Ohio State University Extension Service, catalogued the dangers. The effects of climate change can harm farms, whether it’s increasingly severe rainstorms or drought. Drought, Sundermeier said, poses the greatest danger. High water rarely destroys an entire crop. Drought can. But unpredictable weather, such as can late freeze, can also play havoc with crops. “The variability is more severe.” That severe weather can also carry pests with them. People have to keep in mind that: “Whatever we do, whatever small part we play, affects the rest of the world in big and small ways.” The effects of rising temperature are many. Leontis noted that 2016 was the warmest year on record. Sundermeier showed a slide of a dry, brown field. That field should be green, he said. What could the farmer…


BGSU’s Greek Village earns LEED gold certification

By BOB CUNNINGHAM BGSU OFFICE OF MARKETING & COMMUNICATIONS The color green is usually associated with Earth Week, but sometimes green is gold. Bowling Green State University learned during Earth Week that the Greek Village, a $32.7 million Greek housing project which opened at the beginning of Fall 2016, received the LEED for Homes Gold certification from the United States Green Building Council (USGBC). LEED, which stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is a rating system devised by the council to evaluate the environmental performance of a building and encourage market transformation toward sustainable design. The Greek Village is the sixth LEED-certified structure at the University. Each of the 33 residences was constructed using sustainable construction practices and materials, with the intention of operating efficiently. We are so proud of this significant designation for our new Greek Village and are so pleased that our students have access to facilities that are state-of-the-art and environmentally friendly,” BGSU President Mary Ellen Mazey said. The efficiency credits that helped the Greek Village earn LEED Gold include: The use of low-volatile-organic-compound (VOC) emission paints, adhesives and coatings. Construction Waste Management records indicating that the project diverted more than 75 percent of construction waste from a landfill to a recycling or reuse center. The Greek Housing projects diverted approximately 605 cubic yards of material. The installation and use of high-efficiency toilets and showerheads, along with very high-efficient lavatory faucets. The complete air infiltration sealing with a continuous air barrier: Each Greek Chapter is sealed separately from the other adjacent chapters. All the wall assemblies and trusses were delivered to the site as prefabricated…


Creation Care Celebration to be held on Sunday

The Black Swamp Green Team’s second Creation Care Celebration will take place Sunday, April 23 from 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm at Peace Lutheran Church, 1201 Martindale Rd at W. Wooster in Bowling Green. The event celebrates local efforts, organizations and leaders practicing good stewardship by increasing awareness and practices for sustainable renewable energy use and healthy living. Lunch will be included, as will music by the Peace Band. Keynote presentation and panel will be on the topic of sustainable and regenerative agriculture by Don Schooner of Schooner Farms, Alan Sundermeier from the Ohio State University Extension Office, and Paul Herringshaw of Bowling Green. There will be recognitions, displays, and electric car test drives. A tour of Schooner Farms will immediately follow the event at 3:30 pm. The Black Swamp Green Team is a collaboration of faith communities, advocacy groups, non-profit entities, and individuals engaged in promoting and practicing good creation care among itself and its constituents so as to: implement energy efficiency; the use of renewable energy; the production and delivery of local renewable energy; and, thereby, improve its overall stewardship of creation.


Earth Week speaker to explain how a grizzly killing changed the face of national parks

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Nature has a way of asserting itself. Jordan Fisher Smith noted a small example of that as he walked into Hanna Hall on the Bowling Green State University campus. During his talk to the 40 students in Amilcar Challu’s American Environmental History class, he showed them a shard of limestone. The building represents human ideas of architecture set in stone. Now nature, through freezing, thawing and the movement of water, is having its way with human design. Or maybe it’s the dandelion, an invasive species, rising up through the concrete sidewalk. “That’s wildness,” he said. “That’s the unexpected that happens without human intervention and design.” Or maybe, that assertion comes during the 1972 celebration of the 100th anniversary of the founding of Yellowstone Natural Park. In the midst of all the activities, a hiker Harry Eugene Walker is pulled off the trail, killed and eaten by a grizzly. That’s the subject of Smith’s book “”Engineering Eden: The True Story of a Violent Death, a Trial, and the Fight Over Controlling Nature,” a finalist for the PEN/E.O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award. He’ll speak about the book and the National Park system tonight (April 18) at 7 p.m. in the Student Union theater. Though Yellowstone was created in 1872, people knew nothing about how to run them. They served as “nature management kindergarten,” Smith told the class. Officials were guided by a few “crude rules.” Plant-eating animals were good, and the predators who ate them were bad. Fire was bad. So after human market hunters killed off the elk and bison, park officials decided they…


BGSU taking steps to reduce its carbon footprint

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Bowling Green State University is in it for the long haul when it comes to sustainability. Under the terms of the American University and College Presidents’ Climate Commitment, which BGSU president Mary Ellen Mazey signed with almost 700 of her peers, the university will work to reduce its carbon footprint by an average of 4 percent a year, leading to being carbon neutral by 2040. Monday marked the kickoff for Earth Week activities on campus. A short ceremony to mark the occasion was held outside McFall Center with those gathered moving to place green pinwheels outside the student union. The theme is “Action Today, Better Tomorrow.” Nick Hennessey, BGSU’s sustainability manager, said Monday that the university is close to reducing its carbon footprint by 4 percent annually, but hasn’t done so yet. “We’re working on it. We’re taking a big chunk of it. We’re right where we want to be.” He’s looking forward to finalizing the university’s greenhouse gas analysis. “The most change has occurred in the last year,” he said. Renovation of buildings helps, Mazey said. She’s proud of the number that have earned LEED – Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design – Certification. When the Harshman Quad, the Family and Consumer Science building, and West Hall come down this summer that will have “a major impact on our energy consumption,” Mazey said. Hennessey said the effort to reduce the carbon footprint also got a boost from the city. Now 40 percent of the electricity supplied to BGSU comes from renewable sources. Mazey praised the Friday Nights Lights Out program through which student…


Earth Month events planned throughout county

(Submitted by Wood County Solid Waste Management District) April is Earth Month and multiple agencies are collaborating throughout Wood County to provide events geared toward conservation, education and family fun. The Eighth Annual Community Earth Day Celebration will be the culminating event held on Sunday, April 30th, 2017 from 2-4 pm.  This free family event is open to all and is filled with fun hands-on learning stations. Try your hand at archery hosted by the Wood County Park District, take a nature walk with the Bowling Green Parks & Rec Department, power a light bulb with the City of Bowling Green’s power generating bicycle, give the Solid Waste Management District’s giant Earth Ball a roll, and hold a crayfish at ODNR’s Scenic Rivers station.  Interactive games will be provided by the Northwestern Water & Sewer District, BGSU, and Snapology.  The City of Perrysburg, the Wood County Master Gardeners, and Partners for Clean Streams will host earth friendly activities, and the Wood County Library’s CNG bookmobile will be onsite providing earth friendly stories! The Montessori School of BG, located at 515 Sand Ridge Road, provides an ideal backdrop for this Earth Day Celebration!  Enjoy 14 acres of land, visit a Learning Lab, play on the playground and spend some time at the Black Swamp Preserve and Slippery Elm Trail. We encourage you to get involved throughout the month of April to make Earth Day every day!  For a full list of volunteer and educational activities, please visit www.communityearthday.com.    


BG to put up tree tags to show benefits of city trees

The City of Bowling Green Tree Commission is hanging tree tags around town to show the environmental benefits city trees provide in a year. Tags will be displayed for two weeks between April 17 and May 1 which overlaps with both Earth Day and Arbor Day. Benefits of trees can easily be listed, but until recently it has been difficult to actually put dollar values on these benefits. Tag values were calculated using the MyTree app which estimates benefits of individual trees. The stormwater avoidance provides the largest value as falling rain collects on leaves and bark until it evaporates rather than running off and entering storm drains. Factors that influence each tree’s value include: tree species and condition, trunk diameter (DBH), and proximity to a building. Residents can calculate the value of their trees by visiting itreetools.org/mytree on your computer, tablet, or smart phone. The free MyTree app is available from the US Forest Service through the iTree suite of programs. iTree programs are a tool to estimate environmental benefits of trees and all calculations are based on peer-reviewed research.


BGSU environmental group protests Nexus pipeline

(Submitted by BGSU Environmental Action Group) Bowling Green State University students with the Environmental Action Group marched through campus Friday, ending at the I-75 overpass, with their banners calling attention to the Nexus Pipeline. The pipeline is scheduled to cross the Maumee River in close proximity to the Bowling Green water treatment plant. If constructed, the pipeline would endanger the drinking water of Bowling Green residents, including the 17,000 students who attend the University, along with the roughly 40,000 people in 12 neighboring communities who also rely on the treatment plant for drinking water. The BGSU students who planned the march are part of the Environmental Action Group, a student organization that has been active on campus since 1977. EAG has been fighting the Nexus pipeline since November of 2016. “The Nexus pipeline will affect everyone in our community. It is our responsibility as students to leave the town in better shape than we found it,” said sophomore EAG member Gabby Ysassi. EAG first got involved in the fight against Nexus when they heard about the City Council vote to accept or reject the $151,000 easement, which would have allowed Spectra Energy, the company seeking to build the pipeline, to start construction. On the day of the final vote, they helped to turn out enough citizens in opposition to the easement to fill the council room and the overflow room, in addition to forming a large crowd outside the building. Senior Alexis Kuch added, “Change can only happen when recognition happens. That’s why we are organizing to inform and involve the community, and that’s why we marched today.” Following the…


Luckey cleanup could take $244 million and 12 years

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG  Independent News   Cleaning up the contaminated beryllium site in Luckey is expected to cost $244 million and take up to 12 years to complete. “It will be one of the larger in the nation,” David Romano, deputy district engineer for the Army Corps of Engineers, said of the Luckey project. Removal of contaminated soil and possibly structures from the 40-acre site is expected to start late this year or next year. Representatives of the Army Corps of Engineers, which is in charge of the cleanup, met with the Wood County Commissioners on Tuesday. The cleanup of the site at the corner of Luckey Road and Ohio 582, is part of the federally funded Formerly Utilized Sites Remedial Action Program. Between 1949 and 1958, the Luckey site was operated as a beryllium production facility by the Brush Beryllium Company (later Brush Wellman) under contract to the Atomic Energy Commission. In 1951, the site received approximately 1,000 tons of radioactively contaminated scrap steel, to be used in proposed magnesium production at the site. The Corps of Engineers has identified beryllium, lead, radium, thorium, and uranium as problems in the soil. The cleanup calls for the excavation and off-site disposal of FUSRAP-contaminated materials. The excavated soils will be shipped off-site for disposal at a facility licensed to take such hazardous materials. Groundwater wells near the site are being sampled annually for beryllium, lead, uranium and gross alpha/beta until sampling results show a progressive trend that indicates safe drinking water standards have been met. During the site soils remedial action, more frequent monitoring will be conducted. The cost…