Environment

BG frustration builds over Nexus pipeline concerns

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green officials are tired of getting the brush off by the Nexus pipeline, by the Ohio EPA, and by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. But it appears that getting anyone in authority to listen may take more money than the city can afford – and even then the results are not guaranteed. The major concern is that the 36-inch high-pressure natural gas line will be located close enough to the city’s water treatment plant along the Maumee River, that any accidents could have horrific consequences to the water quality. The city has called in experts and sent letters expressing concerns to many state and federal officials. During City Council meeting Monday evening, Mayor Dick Edwards held up files of information he had collected on the pipeline issue. “This is enough to choke a horse,” he said of all the paperwork. “I take it all very seriously,” Edwards said. “I’m frankly, not giving up at all.” Other efforts are underway to plug the pipeline project. A citizens group is currently collecting signatures to get a charter amendment to protect Bowling Green from the pipeline on the November ballot. (A story on that petition effort will appear later this week on BG Independent News.) Brad Holmes, president of the BGSU Environmental Action Group, who is coordinating the charter amendment effort, asked city officials Monday to file a motion to intervene with FERC. He referred to the Nexus pipeline as a “potential source of disaster.” Neocles Leontis suggested the city also try a different…


BG not giving up on finding glass recycling solution

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green officials aren’t giving up yet on finding ways to recycle glass rather than send it to the landfill. Last week, the Bowling Green Recycling Center announced that effective immediately, the facility would no longer be accepting glass. This applies to all the center’s locations, including the 24-hour drop-off site in Bowling Green, plus the satellite trailers and satellite facilities scattered throughout Wood County. That did not sit well with city officials, who found out about the decision through an email after the decision had been made. “Something like that, it would have been nice to be brought in a little earlier. It would have been nice to phase it in,” said Joe Fawcett, assistant municipal administrator for Bowling Green. City officials have contacted Bowling Green State University’s recycling program, which contracts with Waste Management for pickup of recycling materials. The city and county officials also plan to meet with Owens-Illinois representatives about possible glass recycling options. Fawcett said this morning that city officials realize that glass recycling has been a costly operation for some time. However, paying for glass to be landfilled isn’t cheap either – with dumping costs at about $40 a ton. “We’ve been struggling with it for a long time,” Ken Rieman, of the recycling center, said last week. “Basically, the market conditions are just to the point it’s too expensive to send the glass out.” The center had been sending glass from Wood County to a recycling site near Dayton. It was costing $30 a ton to…


No more glass to be recycled in BG – costs blamed for shattering program

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The glass bottles and jars gathering in the garage for recycling may as well be tossed in the trash. Effective immediately, the Bowling Green Recycling Center is no longer accepting glass. This applies to all the center’s locations, including the 24-hour drop-off site in Bowling Green, plus the satellite trailers and satellite facilities scattered throughout Wood County. It was just last month that a citizen spoke in front of Bowling Green City Council, challenging the body to do more to encourage greater recycling in the city – including more efforts to save glass from being landfilled. Years ago, the recycling center ceased taking glass in curbside bins, but continued to accept it at its drop-off site. But on Tuesday, the officials at the recycling center said that practice was over. “We’ve been struggling with it for a long time,” said Ken Rieman, of the recycling center. “Basically, the market conditions are just to the point it’s too expensive to send the glass out.” The center had been sending glass from Wood County to a recycling site near Dayton. It was costing $30 a ton to ship the glass, for which it was paid $25 a ton. Late last year, the Dayton company raised its shipping costs to $40 a ton, and cut its payments to $10 a ton. The BG center then found a company in Sylvania to take the glass at no cost. However, that agreement ended abruptly, leaving the Dayton site as the only option, Rieman said. “It’s simple economics,” he…


Earth Camp gives kids peek at the wild side

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   By the end of the day, nearly 250 kids left William Harrison Park – some wearing paper butterflies with pipe cleaner antennae in their hair, some with dirt on their hands, and some with new ideas in their heads. Elementary age children from throughout Wood County gathered at the park in Pemberville for the annual Earth Camp Tuesday organized by the Wood County Solid Waste Management District for kids in the Community Learning Centers STARS program. “We get every single one of the Community Learning kids outside for the entire day,” said Amanda Gamby, who coordinated the event. A parent herself, Gamby said sometimes after a long day at work, parents just don’t have the energy to take kids outside to play. So for the 18th year, the Earth Camp gave them a full day to explore nature. This year’s theme was wildlife. “It’s pretty great,” said Jamie Sands, with the Wood County Park District, which partnered on the camp. “This is for kids to be active in nature while learning about wildlife.” Children went from station to station, learning about the declining Monarch butterfly population, “habitracks” using a map to explore habitat components for animals, the importance of pollination, local amphibians, and Nature’s Nursery. “Then they get to go down to the river and see some critters,” Sands said. “They go home and they are probably all exhausted.” At one station, the children learned about the efforts of Nature’s Nursery to help nurse wildlife back to health and return them to…


Young Africans leaders congregate at BGSU to learn from Ohio & each other

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News The future of Africa is at Bowling Green State University. The university is hosting 25 organizers and activists as part of the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders. The institute hosts 1,000 fellows at institutions across the country. (http://bgindependentmedia.org/bgsu-hosting-young-african-leaders/) A conversation with nine of fellows included men and women from Mauritania and Niger in the northern end of the continent to Zimbabwe near the southern tip. The issues they were concerned with were similarly broad, from helping those caught up in the sex industry, education, and environmentalism. And they said they were finding ways of addressing those issues here in the Northwest Ohio meeting with civic leaders and during outings as close to home as the farmers market and as distant as Columbus and Detroit. Tuesday they toured the Bureau of Criminal Investigation lab and crime scene building. Jon Sprague, the director of the Governor’s Center for the Future of Forensic Science at BGSU, also spoke about the opioid crisis. Yet their greatest source of support and knowledge, they said, was each other. “I think the best art of this program was my colleagues,” said Chibuzor Azuuike, of Nigeria. “Africa has to move forward .So meeting people who are of like-mind, who are very passionate about making an impact back at home, is important. I’ve learned a lot from them, and we hope to partner on projects.” Loice Kapondo, of Zimbabwe, said in the week they’ve been at BGSU “we’ve been sharing stories formally and informally. … Their strategies are easy to adapt…


Water quality topic of panel discussion July 6 in Defiance

From NORTHWEST OHIO DEMOCRACY IN ACTION Northwest Ohio Democracy in Action, the Bowling Green Chapter of the League of Women Voters and the Defiance Chapter of the American Association of University Women (AAUW) are co-sponsoring a panel discussion on water quality as it effects northwest Ohio and the Great Lakes. The nonpartisan forum will take place at the Stroede Center for the Arts, 319 Wayne Avenue, Defiance, at 7 p.m., Thursday, July 6. The event is free and open to the public. The idea behind the event is that voters need information from people who work on the front lines and face these important issues in order to present real facts and reduce the misinformation that surrounds public policy today. The discussion is expected to last about two hours and will include time for questions from the audience. All panelists have been working on the front lines of water quality in northwest Ohio for many years and have first-hand experience with federal, state, and local regulations and local trends and conditions and will include: Dr. Mike McKay of Bowling Green State University; Adam McDowell, Defiance water superintendent; Lou Pendleton, formerly of Bryan Municipal Utilities; Jennifer English, City of Defiance Urban Stormwater/MS4 Coordinator; Joe Logan of the Ohio Farmers Union; and Tish O’Dell of the Ohio Community Rights Network. Northwest Ohio Democracy in Action is a local group dedicated to preserving transparency and accountability in government through an informed and educated citizenry. The League of Women Voters was founded in 1920 to help women carry out their newly acquired responsibilities as…


BGSU & contractors take green approach to demolition

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Bowling Green State University constructs buildings with a sense of environmental awareness. The university requires all new structures meet LEED Silver standards, and some including the Stroh Center, and Greek Village exceed that standard, said Ryan Miller, senior project manager in the Office of Design. He’s hoping with a few changes, the Kuhlin Center will also gain the gold designation. When buildings come down, the university and its contractors also try to be environmentally aware. Right now Miller, who worked on the Student Recreation Center renovation and the Wolff Center among other projects, is overseeing the demolition of West Hall and the Family and Consumer Science Building. By the time students arrive on campus next August there will be empty space where the two buildings stood. Miller said that the university’s design consultants and contractors are attuned to LEED principles. The demolition isn’t a LEED project, but as in those projects, the contractors are aiming to recycle and reuse as much material as possible. The original plan was to take brick and concrete from the buildings, crush it onsite, then use it as engineered fill in the basements of the razed structures. Instead in order to save time, the contractors will truck it to the landfill for construction waste and trade it for engineered fill that’s already stockpiled there. That fill will have to meet engineering approval, Miller said. The brick and concrete from BGSU will then be crushed to be used as engineered fill on other projects. The holes will be filled up…


BG challenged to do more recycling and composting

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green City Council has been urged to think “outside the landfill” as a way to save the city money. Neocles Leontis, a Bowling Green State University chemistry professor, suggested last week during a council meeting that the city could reduce its general fund shortfall by thinking creatively about waste generated in the city. He spoke when council asked for public input as they debated options to shore up the city’s general fund after a series of funding cuts from the state. Council members agreed the best option for raising $800,000 a year would be to start charging a fee for trash pickup. Leontis urged them to be more creative in their thinking about garbage. After meeting with Bowling Green Public Works Director Brian Craft about garbage statistics for the city, Leontis reported the city collects about 5,600 tons of garbage a year. Of that amount, about 12 percent is recycled – so about 5,000 tons end up being landfilled. The landfill charges $39.30 a ton, so the city is currently saving about $25,000 a year through recycling. Leontis suggested the city could do better – much better. While the city improved its recycling rate a few years ago after investing in the larger blue recycling containers, the 12 percent recycling rate is relatively low, he said. The average national recycling rate is about 35 percent, Leontis told council. If Bowling Green were to increase its rate to the national average, the city could save an additional $50,000 in landfill costs. But…


Energetic kids learn about renewable energy

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   As the young girl pedaled the bicycle, her efforts first turned on the radio. As she pedaled harder, she created enough energy to turn on LED light bulbs. And if she pedaled really hard, she turned on the old-fashioned light bulbs. Pretty sneaky way to teach kids about energy. “You’re pretty strong,” Daryl Stockburger, assistant director of Bowling Green Public Utilities, told the young girl. “When you use these light bulbs, you’re making the electric company work really hard,” Stockburger said of the older bulbs. “Tell your parents to use LED bulbs.” Stockburger was talking about Bowling Green’s energy efforts recently to a group of kids gatherered at Wood County District Public Library. He talked about the new solar field, the wind turbines and hydropower. Stockburger, who is more accustomed to talking energy with adults, did his best to bring the discussion down to the level of the children. He was helped out by Maria Simon, head of youth services at the library, who is more accustomed to taking technical topics and making them understandable to young minds. Simon was the Gracie Allen to Stockburger’s George Burns. “She’s generating 5 amps,” Stockburger said as another girl tried pedaling the energy bike hooked up to appliances. “I think she should come to my house. I think she could run the dishwasher,” Simon said. The program was part of the library’s summer children’s program on Building a Better World. The children provided a challenging range, with one crawling around tracing the shapes on the…


Arctic Refuge should remain off limits for oil drilling

To the editor: I appreciated Jan Larson McLaughlin’s article, “BG mayor may join ‘Climate Mayors’ national movement.” I think it’s important for communities and decision makers to be considering all sides of an issue before jumping straight into it, especially when it comes to issues as important as our environment. It seems that some of our nation’s leaders have stopped doing just that. President Trump’s budget proposal threatens to open up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling. This 19-million-acre tract of pristine wild lands is home to millions of animals, and is threatened by these commercial endeavors. As a federal land, it is the property of all Americans, and we have a right to be able to make decisions on it. If we allow them to go into the last frontier that we have, then we risk opening up places here in Ohio to this same development. We need to tell our senators, like Senator Portman, to protect our public lands. Bill Murray Weston


BG mayor joins Climate Mayors organization

Bowling Green Mayor Dick Edwards has signed on to join the Climate Mayors organization which is made up of mayors across the nation who support climate change efforts. At Monday’s City Council meeting, Edwards said he was investigating joining the group, and later this week he signed on. Following is the story previously printed on the organization. BG mayor may join ‘Climate Mayors’ national movement


BG Council debates further fight against pipeline

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   At least two Bowling Green City Council members are interested in taking the Nexus pipeline fight further. Council has already rejected an easement to allow the pipeline to cross city-owned land within miles of the city’s water treatment plant. The city held a panel discussion with four geologists addressing their concerns about the pipeline. And the mayor has written several letters identifying concerns to FERC, federal and state legislators, and the pipeline. But on Monday, council member John Zanfardino suggested that the city look into filing a motion to intervene on the project with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. “I know there are questions of cost,” Zanfardino said. But the costs may be worth it to ensure safe drinking water, he said. Zanfardino referred to one of the panelist’s concerns that the environmental statement for the pipeline did not even mention several risks. “This seems to give us a legal leg to stand on,” if something happens, Zanfardino said of the motion to intervene. Though one of the panelists said the cost to file a motion to intervene would be “negligible,” the city’s legal counsel thinks otherwise, especially if it leads to greater litigation and expense.  So Zanfardino suggested some exploration should be done. “We’re running out of time,” he said. FERC tends to rubber-stamp pipeline projects even in the best of times, Zanfardino said. “And we’re not in the best of times.” Council member Daniel Gordon agreed. “There is a real sense of urgency here,” he said. “We can’t put a…


BG mayor may join ‘Climate Mayors’ national movement

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green Mayor Dick Edwards is bucking President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement on climate control. During Monday’s City Council meeting, Edwards said he is investigating joining the Climate Mayors national movement. “Several residents have been in touch with me about the possibility of joining with mayors throughout the country in combating climate change and in preparing for global warming,” Edwards said. “The intensifying of the environmental movement among mayors is proceeding on a bi-partisan basis in partial response to some of the proclamations emanating in recent days from Washington,” the mayor said. Edward’s statement earned him an emotional thank you from council member Sandy Rowland, and applause in the council chamber from citizens and council members. The mayor mentioned a recent NPR interview he heard featuring the mayor of Carmel, Indiana. That city, like Bowling Green, has no risk of the global warming risk from rising ocean waters. But the Carmel mayor also believes in the need for climate control efforts. “Mayor (Jim) Brainard’s comments about Carmel could well have been said about Bowling Green and our efforts to be on the leading edge of environmental sustainability,” Edwards said. Both mayors are Republicans and are bucking the trend of some in their party. In the NPR interview, Brainard talked about why his community in Indiana cares about climate change. “We see ourselves as a part of the country and the world. And we realize if there’s that sort of displacement, we’re at risk for all sorts of…


Pemberville teen Isaac Douglass headed to Sumatra to commune with orangutans

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News The fantastic worlds of Harry Potter, Percy Jackson and others fictional heroes weren’t enough for the Isaac Douglass. “I used to read a lot of fantasy books,” Douglass, 14, said. “I enjoyed having little adventures, and I wanted it to happen in real life.” Two years ago the Pemberville teen returned from a Winter Jam concert with a brochure and an idea. He wanted to take a 30-day trip to Australia. His parents, Shawn and Maria Douglass, weren’t ready for that, but as people who traveled themselves when they were young, they wanted their son to have the same opportunity. “We want him to see the world as much bigger than the microcosm of Wood County,” his father said. They found a shorter trip. So at 12 he ventured to Costa Rica where he helped build a road to a farm and painted the house the farmers lived in, and swam and hiked. That’s what he did at 12, now at 14, Isaac is ready to venture further, to Sumatra and Bali. Like the trip to Costa Rica, this trip, offered by ARCC Programs, is both a service trip and a recreational venture. The largest part of the 18-day trip will be working to restore orangutan habitat in Sumatra. The orangutan is the most endangered primate in the world, Shawn Douglass said. Afterward the teens will venture to Bali for some surfing. Isaac will be leaving in late June. Originally the family had looked at the trip, but decided it was financially prohibitive. Then…


BGSU researchers find virus may have been accomplice in Toledo water crisis

By BGSU OFFICE OF MARKETING & COMMUNICATIONS In August 2014, toxins from algal blooms in Lake Erie shut down the city of Toledo, Ohio’s water supply, leaving half a million residents without potable water for more than two days. A new study co-authored by Bowling Green State University researchers shows that a virus may have been involved in the crisis and suggests methods for more stringent monitoring of water supplies. Michael McKay, Ryan Professor of Biology, and George Bullerjahn, Professor of Research Excellence, both at BGSU, worked with a team of 25 researchers to examine the physiological traits of Microcystis, the cyanobacterial organism responsible for scum-like algal blooms in Lake Erie. They found that it was consistent with algal blooms from 2012 and 2013 except for one thing – the Microcystis cells had a viral infection. Typically, toxins from algal blooms are trapped within the cell until the cell dies. But virus infections can cause cells to break open, leaking the toxin into the water and subsequently into water facility intake pipes and treatment centers. The viruses analyzed in this study infect only bacteria and do not infect humans. “The study changes the way we think about how the toxin moves around aquatic systems and gets into water supplies,” said Steven Wilhelm, Mossman Professor of Microbiology at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, who led the study. “It may help us understand how these organisms persist in nature.” The study was published recently in the journal Environmental Science and Technology. Co-authors included Wilhelm and his team from the University of Tennessee;…