2016 OEC Highlights: Join the movement #OhioFightsBack

If you’re reading this right now, I’m willing to bet you’re someone who cares about making sure Ohioans have clean water and air that won’t make us sick. I bet you want our state to be full of trails to explore, towering trees, and wonder.

You might also feel like there aren’t many people who are on the same page as you. 2016 has brought its share of challenges for those of us who care about the environment, but you should know that tens of thousands of Ohioans just like you are out there today, fighting the same battles you care about.

2017 will undoubtedly bring new obstacles, but Ohio’s environmental movement is up for the challenge. In 2016, we accomplished some pretty incredible things together, and as we head into a new year I would love for you to take a few minutes to celebrate those victories with me.

Check out some of our favorite 2016 moments below and buckle up: 2017 is going to be a gamechanger. I know it.

1. Enacting the strongest lead in drinking water protections in the country.

As the news of Flint, Michigan was reverberating throughout the country, the OEC learned that we had our own mini-Flint right here in Sebring, Ohio. We stepped into action immediately, and put forward a strong legislative proposal. We took this information to Ohio EPA leadership and Ohio lawmakers, to Washington, DC, and even to the White House. Ohioans sent 1,200 messages to lawmakers urging action.

In May, the Ohio General Assembly unanimously passed the strongest protections against lead in drinking water in the country. The new protections require the public be notified within 2 days (previous law required 60 days) when tests show lead is present in drinking water.

This month, President Obama signed a federal bill to protect Americans from lead exposure in drinking water. Much of this language was modelled after the policy solutions created right here in Ohio!

2. Fighting back against clean energy attacks

For the last four years the OEC has been fighting off attempts to gut Ohio’s clean energy policy. This landmark policy put Ohio on track to fight off the worst of climate change, cleaned up our air, and created thousands of jobs to help Ohio families put food on the table.

This year, with all the odds stacked against us, Ohio’s environmental movement and allies killed a proposal that would have effectively gutted clean energy progress in the state. This victory belongs to you. Ohioans made over 2,500 calls and sent over 2,500 emails to lawmakers demanding they put Ohio back on track to be a clean energy leader.

3. Standing up for Ohio’s public forests.

This year Ohioans have sent over 110,000 messages to lawmakers to protect four of our state’s most precious public forestlands. Thanks to this work we’ve shut down logging projects in Spruce Run, Rock Run, and Pike State Forest.

Working with partners all across the state, we were able to deliver 99,000 citizen comments opposing fracking in the Wayne National Forest and 100 formal appeals. Unfortunately, the federal government moved forward with the auction of several hundred acres of the Wayne to fracking companies, but the OEC is gearing up for a legal battle to make sure not a single fracking well touches our only national forest. Support this effort.

4. Slashing climate-warming pollution from the oil and gas sector

Methane is 80 times more potent than carbon dioxide and hitchhiker toxic air pollutants that are released with methane can lead to terrible health consequences. No one knows this more than the thousands of Ohioans living within the threat zone, or within a half-mile of oil and gas operations.

Oil and gas operations are the leading industrial source of methane pollution in the U.S. This year Ohioans said “we’ve had enough,” and sent over 80,000 comments to the U.S. EPA asking for stronger safeguards against methane. U.S. EPA listened and is moving forward with a plan to rein in methane pollution from oil and gas development.

President-elect Trump has already put these new protections in his crosshairs. Help us fight back for the health of Ohio families.

5. Passing landmark safeguards for Lake Erie

This month, some of the most comprehensive protections for Lake Erie we’ve ever seen were finalized. Thanks to decades of outreach at the state and federal level and thousands of citizen letter and emails, we have legislation that will: 

  1. Restrict open-lake dumping of contaminated sediment into Lake Erie
  2. Create a full-time position at the federal level to address Lake Erie’s toxic algae plague
  3. Ensure $300 million per year in funding to restore and protect Lake Erie

6. Bringing Ohio’s environmental law experts together

Many of the OEC’s most significant environmental victories happen in the courtroom. This year, we created the OEC Law Center Roundtable, a core group of seasoned legal professionals with experience and expertise in environmental, energy, and civil rights law and litigation.

The Roundtable has played an important role in advising and assisting with the OEC’s ongoing legal fights to protect clean energy, water resources, and public lands. The round table weighed in on the recent threat to the Sawmill State Wildlife Area to craft a legal strategy to protect this property. Thanks to the Law Center’s work, Ohio’s environment has some of the brightest legal minds in our state proactively developing solutions to achieve lasting environmental protections.

This work, unlike our policy efforts, is funded 100% by the public. Make a gift to keep our law center strong.

7. Breaking barriers to the polls

In the 2016 election season, we launched the largest non-partisan voter participation effort ever led by an Ohio environmental group. In total, 160,000+ Ohio households received vote-by-mail applications.

I wish I could tell you 2017 was going to be easy. It won’t be- but there is reason to hope! Together, we can make a difference that puts on a path to progress to protect our families and environment.

Have a safe and joyful holiday!