Category Archives: *** Leadership Blogs ***

Blogs by ExCom members, committee chairs and other club leaders.

Dayton Dragons RBI “Recycling Bin Initiative” Program in Dayton

A program sponsored by the Dayton Dragons organization in Dayton Ohio works to reward people who recycle their waste and report it to earn tickets to a minor league baseball game!

When a person tracks their recycle activity for two weeks and they send a record of their recycle activity in an email to the Dayton Dragons organization; four lawn tickets to a Dragons game are made available for the effort! Dayton is improving their awareness to recycling programs and involving the Dayton community to support glass, paper, aluminum and cardboard recycling.

The Dragons “RBI – Recycling Bin Initiative” hyperlink to the website is included below:

http://www.milb.com/content/page.jsp?sid=t459&ymd=20110331&content_id=17232822&vkey=tickets

Scott Bushbaum – Sierra Club Miami Group Executive Committee – Dayton Connections

NOPE Update by Nathan Alley

Beginning announcement at the June 5, 2017 Innings

NOPE Update by Nathan Alley

Nathan Alley is Transportation Policy Coordinator for the Ohio Sierra Club.

As an attorney, he has had extensive experience with federal and state environmental laws. and has worked on issues relating to coastal preservation, oil and gas development, clean water and sustainable agriculture. 

About NOPE!:  NOPE! (Neighbors Opposing Pipeline Extension) is a coalition of concerned citizens from over 14 Hamilton County communities affected by Duke’s proposed pipeline.  The mission of the organization is to ensure that any necessary natural gas infrastructure is installed in a way that is safe and responsible, away from densely populated areas.  For more information, visit www.NOPEcincy.org

Nathan will give us an update on NOPE activities, especially since there is an upcoming hearing with the Ohio Power Siting Board on

June 15, 2017. 

The local public hearing is scheduled:

June 15, 2017 from 3 p.m. to  8 p.m.

University of Cincinnati-Blue Ash

Muntz Hall, Room 119

9555 Plainfield Road, Blue Ash, Ohio 45236 

Sierra Club Ohio signs on to S.B. 36 letter

The Sierra Club Ohio Chapter along with partner organizations, Ohio Environmental Council, Arc of Appalachia Preserve System, Flora-Quest, Western Reserve Land Conservancy, North Central Ohio Land Conservancy and Rail to Trails Conservancy have signed a letter to Senator John Ecklund in support of Ohio S.B. 36. Sen. Ecklund is the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means in Columbus Ohio.

S.B. 36 allows farmers who use some of their land for conservation practices or who enroll some of their land in a conservation program to enjoy the lowest possible CAUV (Current Agricultural Use Value) tax rates for their land. This is especially important now with the tax increases many farmers are experiencing.  Moreover, this bill is strengthening voluntary measures that combat harmful algae blooms on Ohio beaches and algae blooms threatening drinking water. S.B. 36 gives Ohio farmers incentives to create riparian buffers, filter strips, and field borders. This bill helps farmers manage soil erosion and water quality issues.

The letter referred to herein is dated March 7, 2017. The bill is sponsored by Ohio Senator Cliff Hite (R-01).

Scott Bushbaum – Sierra Club Miami Group – Executive Committee

fighting Scott Pruitt to head EPA

Four republicans who might vote against Pruitt include
Cory Gardner, Colorado 202-224-5941
Lindsey Graham, South Carolina, 202-224-5972
Lamar Alexander, Tennessee, 202-224-4944
Susan Collins, Maine, 202-224-2523
Please call them and especially encourage anyone you know who lives in these states to call them. Thanks!!

According to the Washington Post, 2/4/17, some groups are targeting the Democrats from the reddest states in order to interfere with opposition to Scott Pruitt, as Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Mr. Pruitt has a record of suing the EPA and working closely with the big oil companies. American Rising Squared is a trump allied organization that is planning TV ads to pressure the following democratic senators:

Joe Donnelly (Indiana) 202-224-4814
Claire McCaskill (Missouri) 202-224-6154
John Tester (Montana) 202-224-2644
Heidi Heitkamp (ND) 202-224-2043
Joe Manchin III (WV) 202-224-3954

To combat this pressure it would be advisable for concerned citizens to call these senators and ask them to vote against Scott Pruitt for Administrator of the EPA. In addition, please call senators in your own state. If you know anyone residing in the above states, please contact them concerning this issue. Thanks!

DP&L’s Six Year Settlement to End Ownership of Coal Generation Power in Ohio

According to North American Clean Energy, The Dayton Power and Light Co, a subsidiary of the AES Corporation and the Sierra Club along with a list of parties who agree in principle to a six year settlement. This agreement will strengthen DP&L’s infrastructure, end it’s ownership of 2,093 megawatts of coal fired generation power and begin more integrated renewable generation.

DP&L has asked for an extension of the February 8, 2017 hearing date to allow more time for parties not joining the settlement, including the PUCO staff, to file testimony. The final decision on the matter is expected on March 31, 2017. If the PUCO agrees to the settlement,  the average DP&L customer can expect a rate increase of $2.39 per month.

This settlement includes a five year Distribution Infrastructure Rider (DIR) that enables the implementation of a smart grid and advanced metering. A Distribution Modernazation Rider (DMR)  will be dedicated in “continuing DP&L’s debt repayment to enable the Company to make additional capital expenditures to modernize and maintain”  their distribution and transmission systems. In the sixth year of the plan, both DMR and DIR amendments will expire and will no longer be collected.

If approved by the Public Utility Commission of Ohio, the plan calls for DP&L to exit 100 percent of it’s interest in 2,093 MW of coal fired generation. Specifically the Company will close two co-owned, coal-fired plants in Adams County, Ohio. The Stuart and Killen plants are scheduled to close in mid-2018. In addition, DP&L agrees to begin the process to sell ownership shares in the Conesville, Miami Fort and Zimmer plants. In part, this agreement begins a procurement of solar and wind generation, economic development funding for communities near the Killen and Stuart plants, funds for low income customers and a commitment from DP&L to maintain the headquarters for the Company in Dayton Ohio.

Look to the link below for more reference from North American Clean Energy’s online website from where I received much of the content, some verbatim.

http://www.nacleanenergy.com/articles/25523/dp-l-reaches-agreement-with-various-intervenors-in-electric-security-plan-case

Scott Bushbaum – Sierra Club Miami Group Executive Committee – “Dayton Connections”

 

Wayne National Forest Fracking Strategy Session Fixed for 1/17/2017

According to the Ohio Environmental Council, a strategy session to address the concerns of oil and gas fracking in the Wayne National Forest is scheduled in Columbus Ohio for Tuesday January 17, 2017. The Bureau of Land Management opened an auction of leases between seventeen  and twenty one parcels of the forest on December 6, 2016. The auction is scheduled to begin March 23, 2017 and is open to 1,186 acres in the Marietta Unit of the forest.

The Notice of Competitive Oil and Gas Lease Sale is available at the BLM-ES website. The posting of the lease sale begins a thirty day protest period of the proposed leased parcels. Protests must be delivered in hard copy via postal service or fax, not emailed or by hand. The BLM received consent from the US Forest Service to offer these parcels in accordance with the revised 2006 Land and Resource Management Plan and the 2012 Supplemental Informational Report. In addition, resource specialists in the BLM Northeastern States District completed an (EA) Environmental Assessment During the process at the Athens Ranger District, public meetings were held in Athens, Ironton and Marietta Ohio. The final EA was released on October 13, 2016.

The March 23, 2017 lease sale will not authorize the successful bidders to develop their leases, according to the Bureau of Land Management, rather they are purchasing a lease which allows them to develop the parcel of land within ten years of the sale date.Because the sale does not authorize drilling, a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) was released at the same time as the final Environmental Assessment (EA). Although the lease holder will need further authorization before drilling or developing a well, the leases do contain some stipulation, mostly due to risk mitigation that are specific of the parcel. The risks can include soil erosion during construction, sensitive habitat disruption to the Threatened and Endangered Species Act, impairment of archeological research and detriment due to authorized recreational use.

Before any ground disturbing activity may begin on the auctioned parcels, operators must submit an Application for Permit to Drill (APD) to the BLM-ES. At that time, the BLM will initiate a site specific environmental analysis with the Wayne National Forest to determine the feasibility of the drill plan. The Ohio State of Department of Natural Resources will concurrently evaluate the APD for operational risks to groundwater.

The Bureau of Land Management oversees more than 245 million acres of public land, more than any Federal agency. The land is also known as the National System of Public Lands located in twelve Western states, including Alaska.  The BLM also administers to 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the USA. The BLM’s mission is to sustain the health, diversity and productivity of America’s public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations.

This collaboration between the Ohio Environmental Council, Ohio Revolution and a long list of interested organizations is scheduled at the Northwood High Building at 2231 N. High St. Columbus OH 43201. The event, hosted by Ohio Revolution, begins at 6:30 pm and ends at 8:30 pm. Off street parking is available for attendees.

Scott Bushbaum – Sierra Club / Miami Group – Executive Committee

 

What is next for the Tremont City Barrel Fill Landfill ?

On December 6, 2016 I received an email from Marilyn Welker a volunteer for the non profit group, People For Safe Water. Some of her work over the past two years has centered on the Tremont City Barrel Fill Landfill that is located just three and one half miles northwest of Springfield Ohio on State Route 68 at the Tremont City Transfer Waste Facility. It occupies 8.5 acres of a larger 80 acre property there at 3112 Snyder-Domer Rd. German Twp. Ohio 45502, according to EPA Superfund and German Twp. The landfill is within area near the Greater Miami Sole Source Aquifer and the Springfield Wellfield that has received attention from People for Safe Water, OEPA and residents due to the disposal of 51,500 barrels totaling some 300,000 gallons of industrial waste dumped there from 1976 to 1979. In 1980, a 10 to 17 ft. deep top layer of soil was deposited over the area considered toxic. EPA does not consider the landfill to be worthy of Superfund designation for cleanup but has asked the State of Ohio to agree to propose and begin the process for EPA Superfund money.

In recent news, US EPA Region 5 contracted with Tetra Tech to evaluate possible permanent removal of the 51,500 barrels of waste there. Tetra Tech concluded that “…The available information was insufficient for this type of ranking and consequently provided no means to deem one hazardous waste solid         than another.” In response to EPA’s request “to identify a type of waste that was likely more hazardous and solid, whose removal may be beneficial ‘still bottoms’ are one such waste.” Still bottoms are residues from distillation processes such as oil refining and solvent recycling which typically contain volatile organic compounds (VOC’s) and semi-volatile organic compounds (SVOC’s). “In summary, there is insufficient information to identify drummed waste solids that pose the greatest threat. However removal of still bottoms would reduce the quantity of hazardous waste on site.” according to the report from Tetra Tech.

Ohio EPA Director Craig W. Butler discussed this report with Ohio legislators Rep. Kyle Koehler (R-District 79), Sen. Bob Hackett (R-District 10) and Rep. Bill Dean (R- District 74). Director Butler asked for a response from citizens and community leaders. The People for Safe Water responded in a letter to Director Butler on November 21, 2016 after speaking with community leaders and consultants. The letter affirms the commitment from EPA Region 5 to remove the “worst of the worst”.  The letter suggests “…remove a subset of ‘the worst of the worst’ barrels whose chemicals are both highly toxic and highly           mobile. Highly mobile meaning waste that travels through sand, gravel and soil quickly. Also, the letter recommends the support and stabilization of solids that are to remain at the site and will be reburied.

In the coming weeks, Director Craig Butler will meet with citizens and local leaders. The People for Safe Water has worked to seek common ground for an “enhanced cleanup plan”. Their approach to the Tremont City Barrel Fill landfill issue is aligned with economic benefit to the people of Tremont City and their health and safety. When I discussed this matter with Virginia Narsete, Community Involvement Coordinator at US EPA in October 2015, I was directed to the Clark County Combined Health District Commissioner Charlie Patterson for answers to the health concerns from citizens affected by the waste at the Tremont City Waste Transfer Facility. The People for Safe Water have also collaborated with the Sierra Club Miami Group and Ohio Citizen Action in Dayton with legal actions to oppose the Source Water Protection Plan, Ordinance 53, and a Memorandum of Understanding with OEPA from 1985 in Dayton Ohio on July 29, 2015. The material in this post online to miamigroup,org is from Marilyn Welker, People for Safe Water at mwelker@ctcn.net

Scott Bushbaum – Sierra Club Miami Group Executive Committee / Sierra Club Ohio Chapter Executive Committee / “Dayton Connections”

 

MSD two phase consent decree approach and status Dec 2016

Under the consent decree MSD was required to create a Long Term Control Plan (originally required in 1990’s) by June 2006. MSD spent two years creating its “Wet Weather Improvement Plan” (WWIP) which is essentially the Long Term Control Plan.  The 2006 WWIP is a 24 volume (3 ring binders) which may still be available from MSD.

Over the next 3 years USEPA and MSD (Cincinnati and Hamilton County) negotiated the contents of the LTCP. Finally in 2008,  USEPA declined to approve the 2006 plan.  In 2009 USEPA agreed to a two phase approach and modifications to the consent decree.  

Phase I included a Partial Remedy for the Lower Mill Creek and other projects. the full list is in attachment 1a and 1b of the 2009 WWIP.

Attachment 2 contained a list of phase II projects.  The final list of phase II projects is due June 2017 per the global consent decree.

However, in 2013, the 2009 WWIP was modified in agreement with USEPA.

And more (“minor”) modifications were made in 2015.

At the MSD breakfast in October 2016, Gerald Checco stated public meetings would be held on Phase II in the spring of 2017, before submission to USEPA in June.

 

 

 

Ohio Energy Update – SB 320 & HB 554

Clean energy standards are moving quickly through the Ohio legislature, according to Jen Miller, Sierra Club Ohio Chapter Director. Here is what to look for:

SB 320 – This bill is said to provide unenforceable, voluntary renewable energy and energy efficiency standards. The renewable energy standards have no requirements to demonstrate standards until 2021. Energy efficiency standards eliminate consequences for meeting requirements until 2020. SB 320 also decreases the energy efficiency requirement from 22% to 17% by 2027. Also, the bill is said to remove OEPA authority to cost effectively meet the Clean Power Plan and requires the OEPA and PUCO to pass legislation through the legislature before Ohio can participate in any carbon allowance or carbon rating to meet the CPP. This undermines Ohio’s opportunity to be cost effective in meeting carbon emission requirements.

HB 554 – This bill makes energy standards unenforceable and voluntary for 2017, 2018 and 2019. It includes the Mercantile opt-out provision and does not include Clean Power Plan or expanded energy efficiency language.

No action was taken by the Ohio Senate Energy and Natural Resource Committee this week on SB 320. The House of Representatives did not meet and there was no movement on HB 554. The Senatorial Committee above will meet on November 29th at 4 pm to hear all testimony, introduce any amendments and a vote on the bill is expected. The House Public Utilities Committee will meet on Wednesday November 30th at 4 pm in hearing room 121 for a hearing on HB 554 to do the same.

Action items for Sierra Club include making in person or submitting written testimony, attending the Nov. 29th and Nov. 30th hearings, asking your Ohio Senator or Representative to vote NO on SB 320 and HB 554 (encouraging your networks to follow suit) and in writing a letter to the editor of your local newspaper asking the Ohio General Assembly to vote NO on SB 320 and HB 554 and to move Ohio forward on a clean energy economy.

Scott Bushbaum – Sierra Club Miami Group Executive Committee / Ohio Chapter Executive Committee / Dayton Connections

MSD 2017 rate increase, capital and operating budget hearings

Hamilton County has announced public hearings on the rates, operating budget and capital budget.

Here are dates and ways to comment:

The Hamilton County Commission has announced that it will conduct public hearings on the Metropolitan Sewer District  (MSD) of Greater Cincinnati’s 2017 – 2021 Capital Improvement Budget, Operating Budget for 2017 and consider a revised rate structure for MSD service charges and surcharges.

The hearings are scheduled for Wednesday December 7, 2016, at 11:30 am and Wednesday December 14, 2016, at 11:30 am, 138 East Court Street, Room 603, Cincinnati, Ohio 45202.

Comments can be made at the hearing or in writing to the Clerk of the Board, Jacqueline.Panioto@hamilton-co.org

Commissioners’ emails are dennis.deters@hamilton-co.org, chris.monzel@hamilton-co.org, Todd.Portune@hamilton-co.org

The files which MSD submitted to the county for the budgets and rates are here.   The MSD rate study is here: MSDGC-2016-Rate-Study-Draft-Final-Report_30SEP2016.pdf

The county monitor team and MSD have been working on the rates and budgets for almost 3 months now.  In September and October 2016, the commissioners passed several resolutions directing MSD and their staff to modify the rate structure or provide the necessary study/data to determine changes like stormwater runoff charges. But most of that work isn’t done and the most recent information is that MSD won’t have the billing system modified even by the end of the first quarter for the simplest changes.

So, we don’t know the how much the budget and rate documents have changed. The first rate increase documents indicated a 5.25 % increase; the rate study says 4.25%.  The county might be looking at 4%.  Muddying the waters further, the August 28 storm expected to total more than $20 million in damages, due to basement backups and sewer collapses. This impacted the MSD operating budget for 2016, probably reducing the amount of debt service paid.  The rate implications of that aren’t clear at all.

So despite the amount of information we have, it isn’t very clear, where this is headed.