Category Archives: Comms Committee

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

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 

Duke Pipeline Hearing June 15, 2017

Important Public Hearing Scheduled
O.P.S.B Schedules Duke Pipeline Hearings

The Ohio Power Siting Board (OPSB) will hold a local public hearing to allow the public to express their views regarding Duke Energy Ohio’s proposal to construct a natural gas pipeline extension in Butler, Hamilton and Warren counties.

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 

Duke Energy Ohio proposes to construct an approximately 13-mile long, 20-inch diameter natural gas pipeline in order to increase the reliability of natural gas delivery in central Cincinnati. The proposed pipeline would run from an existing gas main near the intersection of Butler, Warren and Hamilton counties to an existing main in either the Norwood area or the Fairfax area.

An adjudicatory hearing is scheduled for 10 a.m. on July 12, 2017, at the offices of the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio, Hearing Room 11-A, 180 East Broad Street, Columbus, Ohio 43215.

Additional information regarding the proposed pipeline is available on the OPSB website at in case number 16-253-GA-BTX.

You can also get more information from

Job opening: Volunteer Coordinator Apprentice

A Miami Group Sierra Club (MGSC) volunteer coordinator apprentice whose primary focus is to interact with potential and current volunteers, committees, and other club staff to help build the Miami Group’s active member base and coordinate a major fundraising event.  This job will start with a 6 month contract which can be extended up to one year.

Job Qualifications

  • Recent Bachelor’s degree in the environmental advocacy field (or equivalent degree)
  • Create positive and ongoing relationships with committees and volunteers
  • Good communication and record keeping abilities
  • Skills working with others and independently
  • Ability to set appointments with committees/volunteers and follow up with them afterward
  • Familiarity with MS Office suite

Primary Goals

  • Expand and encourage the number of active volunteers, volunteer leaders, and MGSC members
  • Encourage new volunteers to join the MGSC and become active
  • Understand each MGSC committee purpose and volunteer needs
  • Direct new members and volunteers in the appropriate direction based on their interests, requests and skills
  • Follow up with volunteers on a continual basis to keep them engaged and interested
  • Help build diversity
  • Use social media and coordinate media actions with committee
  • Plan and execute fundraising activities utilizing volunteers

Job Details

  • Develop work plans, time lines and/or specific assigned projects and execute the tasks outlined within them on time and in budget
  • Meet on a regular basis with selected committees
  • Update progress to MGSC ExCom at monthly meetings
  • Establish and maintain a volunteer data base
  • Create content for and manage relevant meet-up/facebook MGSC pages established by Social Media committee
  • Work on specific assigned projects with assigned volunteer leader (approved by ExCom)
  • Reporting Responsibilities
    • Supervisor – designated member of MGSC ExCom (starting with ExCom President)
    • Work directly with ExCom leader assigned to discuss work time line/plans and/or committee chair
    • Job evaluation every 3 months with input from MGSC Executive Committee (ExCom) and committee chairs)
  • Possibility to attend Ohio Chapter meetings or National Campaign events deemed appropriate and approved by ExCom

References upon request.

Deadline for submission May 15, 2017

Email cover letter and resume to:

Karen Brown –

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!

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

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.




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,

Commissioners’ emails are,,

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.

coming changes to the MSD rate structure

County Commissioners begin addressing MSD rate structure

During September and October 2016, the Hamilton County Commission passed the following resolutions and requested that MSD begin implementation as soon as possible.

  • Billing residential customers monthly
  • Basing the multifamily billing on meter size rather than the number of units
  • Billing based on actual meter size rather than pipe size
  • Increasing awareness of lateral line insurance
  • Establishing a customer billing appeals process
  • Reducing the current monthly charge based on 5 ccf of water to 3 ccf.

The monthly billing will be based on 1/3 of the current quarterly billing for residential customers. This is a reduction from $59.54/month to $39.12. About 30% of customers use less than 5 ccf that was previously part of a monthly bill. That is they were paying for water discharged to the sewer system that they were not using.

More work is in progress. Each of the Commissioners’ resolution included setting up a framework to encourage the use of Green/Sustainable Infrastructure and reducing the inflow and infiltration of stormwater. The County Monitor Team is charged with working with MSD to get the necessary data to determine stormwater charges, and green infrastructure incentives. Separating the volume charge out of the minimum charge will likely encourage more water conservation and possibly non-potable water reuse. This will affect revenue – and some level of treatment costs. The Commission is discussing phasing in such changes so that the billing rate can properly reflect the needed revenue. Work is also being done on developing the low-income / hardship billing assistance.

Sierra Club supports addressing the stormwater charge and green infrastructure as soon as possible. We also support eliminating the volume discount that big industries get for use of large volumes of water.

Don’t Flush Rate-Payers Down the Drain!!

Tell Commissioners to Stop the Waste!!

Miami Group members, we need your support in standing up for fair sewer rates in Hamilton County. Together we have been successful at freezing rate hikes and recommending structural changes that would make the billing system fair.  While the County Commissioners have resolved to act on our recommendations the Metropolitan Sewer District is seeking a 5.25% rate increase for 2017.  Join your fellow Sierra Club members in letting the Hamilton County Commissioners know that there is still plenty of work to be done on our outdated sewer rate structure.

Take action today, send a letter  to the Hamilton County Commissioners!

The County Commissioners have recently passed resolutions that were recommended by the Rate Affordability task force, but there are still many recommendations that must still be passed.  We need to see a rate structure that reflects equity amongst all customers before rates are further increased. Together we can create a fair structure for our sewer bills.  

Thank you for taking action and for all you do for Ohio’s environment!

Duke Pipeline update

First it was a giant, high pressure, transmission pipeline to take natural gas through our neighborhoods in Hamilton County. That 30 Inch pipe would have pushed gas through at 720 psi. Explosions can cause extensive loss of life. After widespread, organized opposition all across the northern suburbs, Duke now proposes a smaller, 20 inch pipeline operating – for now – at lower pressures (400 psi) AND they want to upgrade another,  existing 20 inch line as well. Plus they have several other new pipelines in the works for this region. Looks like they’re working hard to figure out how to take fracked gas from eastern Ohio and PA and ship it to the Midwest and South.

It’s like continuous oil trains snaking across greater Cincinnati, hauling huge quantities of liquid carbon energy, with potentially catastrophic consequences. If natural gas were the answer for future energy policy, that would be a discussion. But it ISN’T. We need to be supporting sustainable, safe technologies.

Duke should be investing in residential and commercial retrofits for energy efficiency in heating and cooling – that’s the cheapest way to make more energy available for the future.

Duke should be investing only in renewable energy, including solar, wind and geothermal, which are safe, economical and eliminate climate-change causing emissions and leaks.

Tell the Ohio Power Siting Board that you oppose the pipeline. Refer to Case # 16-0253-GA-BTX; Duke Energy Central Corridor Natural Gas Pipeline, and mail to the Ohio Power Siting Board, 180 East Broad Street, Columbus, Ohio 43215.

Stand together with all communities and rural areas!

As Naomi Klein explains in her great book, This Changes Everything, original populations, first nations, have always been on the leading edge of conservation activism and protecting our planet from plunder.  The huge opposition to the Dakota Access pipeline now playing out in North Dakota is a great example, attracting supporters from all over the continent. The national Sierra Club is helping sponsor this fight.

Go with the winners:

The Sierra Club helped stop the Eastern Corridor freeway through Newtown and Madisonville.

The Sierra Club is demanding MSD do green solutions to storm water management while lowering sewer charges on water bills and stopping sewer overflows and basement backups.

The Sierra Club helped defeat the levy for the City Parks that lacked appropriate transparency, public participation and community input.

Sierra Club has stopped over 100 coal plants from damaging the environment and communities.

Thanks to NOPE!Cincy  for all their work on this !

Bob Park