Environment & Energy

Project layout of Icebreaker Wind Farm
LEEDCo / WKSU

There’s renewed hope for an off-shore wind project on Lake Erie.

The Ohio Power Siting Board voted Thursday to remove a provision that would have made the Icebreaker wind project financially unfeasible. The requirement, known as ‘feathering’, would have required the turbines to stop spinning every night between March and November to reduce risk to migrating birds and bats.

In what has already been an active hurricane season, storm watchers are closely monitoring a pair of weather systems that threaten to deliver more damage.

Hurricane Paulette is rolling toward Bermuda and expected to bring heavy rainfall along the coast beginning Sunday night, according to the National Hurricane Center. The NHC said Paulette is expected to be a "dangerous hurricane."

Mike and Melissa Keleman on Keleman Point Farm
COUNTRYSIDE

New sustainable farmers have taken over one of the long-term leases in Cuyahoga Valley National Park as part of its Countryside Initiative. The change is a rare occurrence for the program.                                      

canoes at sunset
JEFF ST.CLAIR / WKSU

The rhythms of nature continue despite the disruptions the pandemic has caused our lives.

In southern Summit County, the season’s change is marked by a dazzling display of migrating birds. Each night bird watchers flock to witness the mass gathering of purple martins on Nimisila Reservoir.

It’s early September, a warm evening just before sunset. Dozens of bird watchers gather on shore, poised with spotting scopes and binoculars. But the best viewing is out on the water.

photo of the towpath trail
JEFF ST.CLAIR / WKSU

A series of self-guided bicycle tours aims to bring new visitors to the Towpath Trail amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Cycle Canalway” offers 12 different rides, mapped out for different skill levels. Visitors get information on historic and natural sites of interest, mileage and terrain.

photo of a rare tropical bird known as brown booby at Nimisila Reservoir
GARY TRAVENY

A tropical bird has taken up residence in Northeast Ohio.

The local appearance of the normally sea-going brown booby has created quite a stir among birders.

It’s the first time the Caribbean native has been seen in Ohio.

Summit County Metro Parks naturalist Janean Kazimir spots the bird on a dead tree limb along the shore of  Nimisila Reservoir just south of Akron.

Updated at 1:30 a.m. ET Thursday

Hurricane Laura made landfall at 1 a.m. ET Thursday with extreme winds and an expected "catastrophic" storm surge in parts of Texas and Louisiana, according to the National Hurricane Center.

a photo of Mike Schnellinger
NATIONAL PARK SERVICE

A Cuyahoga Valley National Park volunteer has won a national award for his efforts to help park visitors and his work to renew and restore the Cuyahoga River. Mike Schnellinger was recognized during a virtual ceremony Tuesday.

National Park Service deputy director David Vela says Schnellinger has volunteered more than 700  hours in the last three years as a trailblazer on the Towpath and other parks trails and as a leader in establishing the Cuyahoga Valley volunteer river patrol.

photo of Brecksville Dam
MEG PLONA / CUYAHOGA VALLEY NATIONAL PARK

The Cuyahoga River is now flowing freely in Brecksville. Crews have completed removal of the Brecksville Diversion Dam and historic Pinery Feeder Dam. Now that the first phase is completed, phase two of the dam removal project is set to begin soon.

Cuyahoga Valley National Park deputy superintendent Lisa Petit says phase two focuses on the decrease in water level and flow through the canal.

“Phase two is to create, or to fabricate and install a pump that will take water from the river and pull it into the canal to maintain water in the canal” says Petit.

A photo of Perry Nuclear Plant
JERRY SHARP / SHUTTERSTOCK

The head of an energy research nonprofit in Cleveland hopes the corruption scandal surrounding a utility bailout will ultimately help Ohio move forward. Sandy Buchanan is the executive director of the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis.

She wants to see House Bill 6, the bailout that saved FirstEnergy’s nuclear plants, repealed but not replaced.

She said the bill is poor policy and holds Ohio back.

a photo of the Ohio Statehouse
EYE ON OHIO

Both Republican and Democratic Ohio lawmakers are pushing to repeal the state’s nuclear bailout bill after this week’s release of a federal criminal complaint against House Speaker Larry Householder and others. Clean energy advocates say that would be a start, but more is needed to address eight years of lawmakers’ actions to slow the growth of renewables in the state.

A photo of the Gorge Dam.
JEFF ST. CLAIR / WKSU

The city of Akron is getting a $1 million grant from the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative to help pay for removing the Gorge Dam from the Cuyahoga River. Environmental Protection Agency administrator Andrew Wheeler announced the funds during a visit to Akron Tuesday.

Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan said the city will continue to work with stakeholders and partners to help secure the rest of the funds for the $65 million project.  

Cuyahoga River in Cascade Park
JEFF ST. CLAIR / WKSU

Summit Metro Parks will use a $2.5 million dollar grant to continue one of its largest ecological restorations.

The project involves a 1-mile stretch of the Cuyahoga River and adjacent flood plain in the Valley View Area of Cascade Valley Metro Park in Akron.

Summit Metro Parks Chief of Conservation Mike Johnson said the project will include a larger parking lot and additional river access.

Solar array
DOVETAIL WIND AND SOLAR

Clean energy advocates say the industry in Ohio has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic. An analysis of Labor Department data by the group Environmental Entrepreneurs or E2 finds more than 20,000 Ohioans who worked in the clean energy industry have filed for unemployment since March.

That’s almost 20% of the more than 114,000 employed in the industry at the end of last year.

Micaela Preskill is from E2. She says the industry needs policymakers' support to get back on track.

With dredged material now viewed as a marketable commodity, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and local agencies are seeking public input on a new 20-year dredging plan for Cleveland Harbor.

For nearly 50 years, dredged material has been stored in confined disposal facilities, isolating what was dredged from adjacent waterways. 

photo of Pinery Dam
KABIR BHATIA / WKSU

For decades, supporters of cleaner water have been working to rid the Cuyahoga River of its dams, which impede the flow of water.

Restoring that flow is improving water quality and providing new opportunities for wildlife and recreation on the river.

The latest project -- removing the Brecksville Dam -- has revealed a bit of history that dates back almost 200 years.

photo of Pinery Dam
KABIR BHATIA / WKSU

The Brecksville Dam removal project hit a milestone this week, as waters receded enough to reveal the historic Pinery Dam that’s been submerged since the 1950s.

The older, wooden dam is nearly 200 years old and was intended to divert water from the Cuyahoga River to the Ohio & Erie Canal just to the east. It’s currently being studied by Cuyahoga Valley National Park historians.

photo of smokestacks
JAMES KELLY / SHUTTERSTOCK

For decades, factories in Cleveland's Industrial Valley have sent smoke and even fire out of their smokestacks – a process known as “flaring.”

Margaret Liske from Hudson has always wondered about the smokestacks along I-77 near Cleveland.

“They belch out huge, high billows of smoke and -- at night -- fire. Why is this potential heat not somehow recycled [or] reused?”

For the answer, we asked Krishna Rao, a chemical engineer who recently retired as president of Valley View-based plastics firm, Nanofilm.

People in the eastern United States are getting a treat this spring - if you consider more cicadas than usual a treat. Five different cicada broods have emerged instead of the one that was expected.

A Republican-backed bill to prohibit communities from banning plastic bags and other disposable containers passed the Senate on a mostly party line vote, after a significant change related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

A photo of ribbon cutting for Summit Lake loop trail
TIM FITZWATER

The Knight Foundation has committed another round of funding to Akron projects that aim to "Reimagine the Civic Commons."

Akron will receive $1.6 million to extend efforts to revitalize public spaces in the Summit Lake neighborhood, develop the new Ohio and Erie Canal Park and continue work downtown with Locks 2, 3, and 4.

Knight Foundation’s Akron Program Director Kyle Kutuchief says the racial and economic diversity of these areas represent Akron.

photo of Happy Days Lodge
MARK URYCKI / WKSU

Couples who want to get married in Cuyahoga Valley National Park have a new option next month – pop-up weddings designed around social distancing.

The park is partnering with wedding planners Haus of Cool to provide wedding packages for groups up to 10 people. They’ll offer six weddings per day on six dates this summer.

Leedco wind farm
WKSU

The proposed Icebreaker wind farm project in Lake Erie has received approval from the Ohio Power Siting Board -- but with a potentially fatal caveat about when the turbines can operate.

photo of Brecksville Dam
KABIR BHATIA / WKSU

It was the beginning of the end of the Brecksville Dam today. Crews started the process of deconstructing the dam. That began with notching a hole for sediment to flow through the concrete structure.

A new report places Cleveland 29th in the nation for its park system, up six spots from its ranking in a similar study last year.

The ParkScore index from the Trust for Public Land (TPL) looks at various factors to determine the quality of a city’s park system, including accessibility, size, amenities and financial investment.

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