Environment & Energy

a photo of smoke stacks
JAMES KELLEY / SHUTTERSTOCK

A new report says climate change has significant negative impacts on children's health. Environmental and health advocates say this highlights the urgency to reduce carbon emissions.

A dozen people are scurrying around a church basement in Youngstown, Ohio. They’re arranging tables and chairs, setting up paperwork, and hanging up signs that read “Ohio Health Registry.”

A photo of a flooded farm field
KAREN KASLER / STATEHOUSE NEWS BUREAU

After weeks of heavy rainfall and flooding, 15 percent of Ohio farmland has gone unplanted. In states like Kansas, Minnesota and Nebraska this usually triggers an uptick in farms filing for bankruptcy. But a report from researchers at The Ohio State University shows Ohio farms have not followed this trend.

Ten years ago, the fracking industry was already booming in Pennsylvania, but people in Ohio were just starting to hear about it. Many were excited that it would help eastern Ohio's struggling rural economy. 

After three months of record high water, Lake Erie water levels are starting their seasonal decline, according to the Army Corps of Engineers.

“Lake Erie did establish new record highs for the month of May, for the month of June and the month of July,” said Keith Kompoltowicz, Chief of Watershed Hydrology for the Corps’ Detroit District office. “The June monthly mean is the highest recorded level over the past 100 years. So it has never been higher in any month going back to 1918.”

Deciding what happens on private property might seem like a basic right. But when it comes to energy development, Ohio and other oil and gas-producing states have laws that can force landowners to lease their underground mineral rights to energy companies.

A University of Cincinnati professor is predicting the Arctic Ocean could have no September sea ice if global temperatures continue to rise.

Photo of flooding in Kent
LYDIA TAYLOR / WKSU

The Summit County Council Planning Committee is expected to vote on Monday whether to re-establish a task force to advise the county on sustainability.

According to Summit County Council member Elizabeth Walters, the last few months show a green policy task force is necessary.

Across the nation, farmers were kept from planting almost 10 times as many acres this year as they were in 2018. 

"Water, water everywhere." That line from poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge could be the mantra for rain-weary residents across the country. Some regions have seen record amounts of rain since early spring. The Mississippi River and tributaries spent months above flood stage, while all of the Great Lakes are nearly at or above historic highs.

Keith Kompoltowicz, chief of watershed hydrology for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Detroit, says data show that the Great Lakes have been on the rise for several years, especially in recent months.

photo of store interior of Empty Bin Zero Waste
TERESA MAZEY / EMPTY BIN ZERO WASTE

Ohio’s first zero-waste store is now open for business. The Canton store sells reusable items to replace single-use disposables like straws, facial wipes and sandwich bags.

Teresa Mazey opened Empty Bin Zero Waste after spending two years selling her products at markets and festivals. She says people are taking notice.

Akron green storm water system design
AKRON WATERWAYS RENEWED!

Akron officials are awaiting approval from a federal court on proposed money-saving modifications to the city’s massive sewer project. The US and Ohio EPAs approved the changes last year.

Akron, like many cities across the nation, is under a federal mandate to update its infrastructure to stop old sewers from releasing combined storm water and sewage into the Cuyahoga River by 2028. 

A photo of an eastern red cedar.
LUCAS GILLISPIE / FLICKR

Kent State researchers have received a grant to study a type of evergreen tree common on the east coast that’s changing the landscape as it moves west.

The university has received $914,000 from the National Science Foundation to understand how the Eastern Red Cedar tree is spreading.

David Ward is a professor of biological sciences and will be leading the project. He says the tree's expansion has broader implications.

a photo of a leaf with beech leaf disease
JEFF ST.CLAIR / WKSU

A mysterious disease is killing one of the most majestic trees in American forests, the beech. 

Known for its smooth gray bark, the beech is an important anchor species. 

No one knows exactly what causes Beech Leaf Disease, but a team of tree scientists is narrowing down the list of culprits in this botanical whodunit.

Ann Hall stands with a few dozen other athletes on Edgewater Beach, gazing out at a white-capped Lake Erie.

"I'm just trying to kind of mentally prepare myself if we have rough waters again," she says.

She's one of 4,500 athletes who'll compete in the USA Triathlon Aug. 10 and 11, as the event comes to Cleveland for the second year in a row.

a photo of Tappan Lake
GOOGLE EARTH

The Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District will be getting a facelift. The board of directors has approved a $65 million plan to improve infrastructure, camping and portions of the waterfront.

The improvements are the second phase in the district’s master plan, which spent $130 million on phase one.

Deputy Chief of Planning and Projects Eric Stechshulte says phase two focuses on bringing more activities to the park, but he says they’re not done there.

New Bird Species Spotted in Northeast Ohio

Jul 31, 2019
An unknown species of Ohio bird rests on the hand of a person in the Summit Metro Parks.
DAN TOTH / SUMMIT METRO PARKS

A new hybrid bird species has been spotted around parks in northeast Ohio.

The bird is a type of warbler resulting from mating between Cerulean Warblers and Northern Parulas.

Park Ranger Ryan Trimbath was the first to spot the bird in 2014 while he was working for the Summit Metro Parks in Deep Lock Quarry.

He says the experience has opened his mind to when people claim to see new species.

The avalanche of plastic waste that's rolling over land and sea has inspired numerous potential solutions. Some involve inventing our way out of the mess by creating new kinds of natural materials that will harmlessly degrade if they're thrown away.

Others say it might be quicker to change people's throwaway behavior instead.

kayakers in the Cuyahoga River
KABIR BHATIA / WKSU

Heavy rain this spring pushed local waterways to higher-than normal levels, and listener Patrick Pierquet from Wooster asks “OH Really?” how that could affect wildlife.

Springfield Lake
GOOGLE EARTH

The village of Lakemore issued an advisory about harmful algal blooms on Springfield Lake.

Recent heavy rain caused more ground water runoff into the lake, which adds nutrients to the water and encourages algae growth. The algae produce toxins.

Summit County’s director of environmental health, Tonia Burford, says people should avoid contact with the water and be sure not to swallow it because that can lead to health problems.

Court Issues Split Decision On Natural Gas Drilling Rules

Jul 24, 2019

A state court on Monday upheld portions of Pennsylvania regulations that address Marcellus shale natural gas drilling, although the judges also sided with some of the arguments made by an industry group.

photo of Chuck Croasmun, Amanda Decaro
KABIR BHATIA / WKSU

Extreme weather in Northeast Ohio this year is having an impact on vendors at some Northeast Ohio farmers markets.

Several vendors were absent from the Hudson Farmer's Market on Saturday due to excessive heat. And several of the ones who were there with produce say they have fewer goods to sell due to this spring’s heavy rains.

Tree-Killing Disease Found In Ohio Plants

Jul 19, 2019

A plant pathogen that causes the tree-killing disease known as sudden oak death has been found in Ohio.

photo of perry nuclear power plant
DAN KONIK / STATEHOUSE NEWS BUREAU

Environmental advocates say the Senate’s new energy plan is taking Ohio in the wrong direction when it comes to emerging energy sources and innovations. That plan would likely bail out two nuclear power plants through new charges on electric bills.

The latest proposal would create a new 85-cent fee on monthly electric bills, with most of the money going to nuclear. It also subsidizes coal plants through a $1.50 fee.

Cuyahoga Valley National Park wants public input on what services would enhance the "visitor experience" for the more than 2 million people who visit the park every year.

The federal government operates the park system with a small staff and limited resources, so it’s challenging to offer amenities like places to eat and lodging, says spokesperson Jennie Vasarhelyi. That’s why the park is creating a commercial services strategy to serve visitors better with more products or activities through a third party.

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