Environment & Energy

a photo of an Ohio senator

The Senate is rolling out more changes to the comprehensive energy bill that would bail out Ohio’s nuclear power plants.

The latest version of the bill makes big changes to energy efficiency policies.


Arrye Rosser opens a 1969 issue of Time Magazine that shined a spotlight on the Cuyahoga River.
Mark Arehart / WKSU

When the Cuyahoga River caught fire 50 years ago it helped spark an environmental movement in America. However, there was little coverage at the time and no known photographic evidence of the actual blaze.

A photo that appeared in a 1969 Time Magazine article is often attributed to the fire.

For our latest story in our series Watershed, a look at the power of photography and how it’s shaped our understanding of the burning river.

a photo of Ben Stefanski with Carl Stokes at Edgewater Beach

The man who helped initiate efforts to clean up the Cuyahoga River was remembered in Cleveland Friday. 

Ben Stefanski, Jr. served as utilities director under former Cleveland Mayor Carl Stokes in the 1960s. Stefanski helped create the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District and pass a $100 million bond issue to clean up the river, something his brother Marc said even Mayor Stokes did not think would win approval. 

a photo of flooding on a highway

Local leaders are trying to help Summit County flood victims.

State Rep. Tavia Galonski (D-Akron) met with  several mayors, directors of state agencies and Governor Mike DeWine this week in Barbertion. Mayor William Judge organized the meeting.

Galonski said there is hope for financial help for those affected by flooding.

photo of Mike Johnson

Officials with Summit MetroParks are moving into the final phase of a $7 million project which will restore nearly five miles of waterways.

An estimated 30,000 Ohioans live within 650 feet of an underground natural gas storage well, according to a study published this week in the journal Environmental Health.

The study examined storage facilities in six states, finding that 65 percent of wells are in urban and suburban areas. The wells hold natural gas before delivery to businesses and households.

photo of a very large sturgeon
Candlescent, licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 / FLICKR

A fish whose existence dates back to the time of the dinosaurs could be returning to the Cuyahoga River.

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources is working with Cleveland Metroparks, the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District and others to study the idea of re-introducing sturgeons to a cleaner Cuyahoga.

Eric Weimer supervises the Fisheries Assessment Unit in Sandusky for ODNR. He said restocking the river is going to take some time.

photo of Lake Erie tugboat

Over the past 50 years, freight traffic on the lower Cuyahoga River has increasingly competed with smaller watercraft as the river has rebounded to become a recreation channel. Watershed is a series looking at our waterways and what the future holds for them. This installment looks at one river, competing interests.

A photo of Leesville Lake

Lakes in the Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District are reaching record levels. That means there are some restrictions for boaters who plan to enjoy the water on the Fourth of July.

a photo of Joy Mulinex

The Cuyahoga River and many other Northern Ohio streams and rivers are part of the Lake Erie Watershed, which encompasses 33 of Ohio's 88 counties, or more than one-third of the state. The lake provides drinking water to millions of people.

This week our series "Watershed" is taking a closer look at Lake Erie.

By Sai Karnati

At Mentor’s Headlands Beach State Park, the water hugs trees and parks in its lots.

Flooding from Lake Erie's high water has prompted the city of Mentor to cancel the popular Headlands BeachFest, scheduled for July 20.

a photo of a sailbot on Lake Erie

In the early 1970s there was a cooperative effort between the United States and Canada to lower the amount of pollutants entering the Great Lakes. 

Around that same time a young northeast Ohio native was beginning a four-decade career at Ohio State University focused on cleaning up Lake Erie. 

A photo of the Ashtabula River

Rivers in northern Ohio have long been conduits of industry, linking onshore factories to Great Lakes shipping and beyond.

This industrial legacy spurred economic growth, but it also left the region’s waterways poisoned by unregulated pollution.

And one of the hardest hit rivers was the Ashtabula, in Ohio’s far northeast corner.

In this installment of our series Watershed, WKSU’s Jeff St. Clair reports the cleanup of the Ashtabula took decades of dedication and became a model for environmental cooperation.

a photo of flooding on a highway

Summit County is taking a new approach to flood mitigation in the Barberton area. The county is proposing a ballot initiative this year that would ask voters to approve creating a department to oversee flooding county-wide.

Barberton Mayor William Judge said the previous idea had been to focus just on the Wolf Creek watershed, but he now believes a more regional approach would be better.

photo of Cuyahoga River

Weeks of heavy rain have left the Cuyahoga River swollen, and that’s posing a danger to anyone using the river.

Fifteen people have been rescued since water levels rose according to John Kobak, with the Keel Hauler Canoe Club. He said fallen trees are adding to the hazard.

photo of Tom Yablonsky and Tim Donovan

State, local and federal officials broke ground on Saturday on the final piece of the Ohio & Erie Canalway Towpath Trail in Cleveland. 

The final section will run from Tremont to Canal Basin Park and should be done by 2021.

photo of Cuyahoga River

Fifty years ago, the Cuyahoga River caught on fire. It wasn’t the first time this had happened. And it really didn’t become a big deal nationally until more than a month later when Time magazine ran an article on the fire.

Fifty years later, the river has rebounded. Watershed is a series from WKSU News looking at our waterways and what the future holds for them. In our opening story, we take a look at the current state of “the burning river.”

photo of Blazing Paddles

About 250 people participated in the second annual “Blazing Paddles” event Saturday, as part of the commemoration of the 1969 Cuyahoga River fire.

photo of Meg Plona, Gary Whidden

The commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the final Cuyahoga River fire came to the Brecksville Dam Friday as part of the X-tinguish Torch Fest.

“We have gathered to celebrate the river, and the river is rising to celebrate the occasion, right?” Cuyahoga Valley National Park Superintendent Craig Kenkel asked.

Photo of a flooded rail bridge
Joe Gunderman / WKSU

Farmers around Ohio are dealing with flooding after severe storms dumped heavy rains across much of the state. The National Weather Service says Ohio has seen an average of nearly 7 inches of rain over the past month, up from the typical monthly average of less than 5 inches. Some parts of the state have gotten as much as 10 inches.

Ohio Farm Bureau Spokesman Ty Higgins says this may just be the calm before the storm.

a photo of compost heap

Acme Fresh Market in the Portage Lakes is working with high school students to keep more of its garbage out of landfills.


The company began a composting program in January.

Carrie Soful, a biology teacher at Manchester High School, reached out to Acme after she saw old cucumbers being tossed in the garbage by workers at the store.

The 10 Ohio counties impacted by the Memorial Day tornado outbreak are now eligible for federal disaster recovery aid. Dayton-area officials say the FEMA and other funding could play a crucial role in the Miami Valley’s ongoing recovery.

President Donald Trump issued a federal disaster declaration Tuesday, one week after Gov. Mike DeWine formally requested it.

The declaration means affected Ohioans are now eligible for aid through FEMA’s individual assistance, hazard mitigation, and disaster legal services programs.

A photo of Brecksville Dam

Officials at Cuyahoga Valley National Park are preparing for this week’s 50th anniversary of the final Cuyahoga River fire.

The “X-tinguish Torch Fest” will symbolically bring a torch down the river on Friday.

The national park’s Maureen Finnerty says they’ve been working for several years on ways to focus people on the rebirth of the Cuyahoga since 1969.  And that includes having the river designated by the state as a Water Trail.

a photo of the Cuyahoga River near downtown Cleveland

Starting on June 24, WKSU will begin a series of reports looking at the state of our local waterways including the Cuyahoga, Ashtabula, and Black Rivers as well as Lake Erie. As we prepared these reports, we asked listeners to share their memories of the time 50 years ago when the Cuyahoga River burned. You'll hear their recollections on air all week, and you can check them out here as well.  

a photo of a FirstEnergy substation

State lawmakers have been debating a change to Ohio’s energy policy that could save two nuclear plants. Both are owned by First Energy Solutions, once a subsidiary of First Energy. But First Energy has shed the entity and become a fully-regulated utility, which sparked a listener’s curiosity. She sent in a question to our OH Really? team.