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State of Ohio enters court battle against Lake Erie Bill of Rights

Credit: NOAA derived image from EUMETSAT Copernicus Sentinel-3a satellite dat

The state of Ohio has stepped into a court battle over whether Lake Erie has legal rights. 

In February, Toledo voters approved the charter amendment by a large margin. The amendment claims city residents have the legal right to protect Lake Erie.

Toledo lies on the shore of the western part of the lake, which is plagued with cyanobacterial blooms, largely caused by fertilizer runoff from farms. In 2014, the city of Toledo briefly shut down its water system, after its Lake Erie water intake was surrounded by a bloom of toxic cyanobacterial.

The Lake Erie Bill of Rights amendment was challenged by a farm business - Drewe Farms - days after the election.

Now the state of Ohio is intervening, requesting a permanent injunction against anyone using the amendment to advocate for Lake Erie.  The state says it alone has the constitutional right to enforce laws regulating pollution. 

Supporters of the charter provision say it's necessary because Ohio has failed to take action to keep farm runoff and other sources of pollution out of the lake.   

Tracy Samilton covers energy and transportation, including the auto industry and the business response to climate change for Michigan Public. She began her career at Michigan Public as an intern, where she was promptly “bitten by the radio bug,” and never recovered.
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