Environment & Energy

Some of the storm waters from our rainy spring weather are now being diverted back to Mother Nature thanks to a new "green infrastructure" project on Cleveland's East Side. The Buckeye Road site also features public art with an environmental theme.

Four blocks of abandoned homes and businesses along Buckeye Road were recently plowed down and replaced with a series of rain gardens and grassy dips in the landscape, called detention basins, that will hold storm water, after a heavy rain.

Elaina Goodrich sits on a blanket at Edgewater Park Beach on Lake Erie, watching her 3-year-old grandson scoop up sand by the colorful plastic bucketful.

In spring and summer, the two often spend their mornings here. It's a favorite spot for both of them — she for the peace and restoration, he for the fun.

Lately, though, she's been noticing something different: They've been sitting further and further up the beach to avoid actually sitting in the water.

a photo of Rob Portman
TIM RUDELL / WKSU

Senator Rob Portman is supporting a bill he calls a bipartisan way to move forward on climate change.

The Carbon Capture Improvement Act aims to help industry reduce carbon emissions. BP’s Statistical Review of World Energy found a 2 percent increase in carbon emissions in 2018, up from 1 percent over the previous 10 years.

Lake Erie Hits Highest Average Levels Since 1918

Jun 11, 2019
View of Lake Erie
JEFF ST. CLAIR / WKSU

Lake Erie has been breaking water level records over the past month. In May, the lake hit its highest average monthly water level since 1918.

Scott Hardy is an extension educator for the Ohio Sea Grant College Program. He says the lake is about 30 inches above normal and while water level change is a natural cycle, recent research shows that climate change has contributed.

a photo of a field with Pollinator Project sign
SARAH TAYLOR / WKSU

If you drive Ohio highways you may have noticed more flowers and taller grass on the side of the road.

The Ohio Department of Transportation has begun planting wildflowers along highways across the state with the goal of creating habitats for pollinators.

Each site requires $400 to get started, but ODOT press secretary Matt Bruning said the project will save Ohio taxpayers millions.

“Just last year, we’ve already saved about $2.28 Million in just reducing our mowing of these areas, and that number’s going to continue to grow as we continue to expand these.”

a satellite photo of Eastlake
GOOGLE EARTH

Residents of Lake County were shaken Monday morning by an earthquake in Eastlake that officials now say registered 4.0.

Fire Chief Ted Whittington said the quake struck around 10:50 in the morning and lasted no longer than five seconds.

“So right now we’re kind of monitoring, because of the time of the day during the week we realize that there weren’t a lot of people at home when the quake actually happened. We’re running regular calls, so we’re doing our regular EMS and fire calls that we would normally see on a given day, so we’re just kind of at this point monitoring.”

a photo of a black bear
JOHN MIZEL / CREATIVE COMMONS

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources recently reported an increase in black bear sightings in northeast Ohio. Jamey Emmert of the ODNR said this is typical for the summer months in the area as young cubs leave their mothers. Bears have been spotted in Lake, Geauga, and Ashtabula counties. She said most of them are young males who aren’t usually aggressive.

A photo of House Speaker Larry Householder.
ANDY CHOW / STATEHOUSE NEWS BUREAU

The Ohio Senate will begin official hearings on the extensive energy bill that would redirect the state’s attention away from renewables and subsidize nuclear and coal instead.

As a lead-up to hearings, state senators heard testimony from researchers and industry experts. 

The bill, which would bail out nuclear power and get rid of wind and solar mandates, has already passed the House. 

Landowners in Ohio hope to convince a federal appeals court that they were forced by a federal agency to sell their property to a pipeline builder sending large quantities of natural gas to Canada.

States in the Ohio River basin will be able to choose whether or not to follow pollution control standards set by the Ohio River Water Sanitation Commission. ORSANCO's board of directors approved the change at a meeting in Covington Thursday morning.

Special teams from the Federal Emergency Management Agency arrive in Ohio Tuesday to begin assessing the damage from last week’s tornado outbreak.

The storm damaged thousands of homes and businesses across the Miami Valley and FEMA’s visit is a critical step toward securing federal disaster assistance, but officials say it could take weeks before any potential disaster aid comes to Ohio.

a photo of Cuyahoga Valley National Park sign
WKSU

A new study shows that Cuyahoga Valley National Park (CVNP) brought in more than two million visitors who spent more than $36 million locally last year. The CVNP’s community engagement supervisor, Pam Barnes, said national parks bring in $10 of local spending for every one dollar spent on the parks. She said she hopes to see more people take an interest in visiting national parks like Cuyahoga Valley.

“We like to feature this park. It’s a way to introduce the idea of national parks and as a gateway to national parks across the country.”

Cuyahoga County Council Approves Ban On Plastic Bags

May 28, 2019

Cuyahoga County Council banned single-use plastic bags with an 8 to 3 party-line vote Tuesday evening, requiring businesses to offer reusable or paper bags to retail customers.

The ordinance is set to take effect Jan. 1, 2020. It was originally drafted for Oct. 1 of this year, but councilmembers agreed businesses needed more time to prepare.

“We’re not going to solve the entire plastic pollution problem by banning plastic bags,” said Democratic Councilwoman Sunny Simon, who sponsored the measure. “However, it’s a huge start and it’s going to make a big difference.”

photo of DeWine talking to media
JASON REYNOLDS / WYSO

Gov. Mike DeWine declared a state of emergency in three Ohio counties after spending the day surveying the damage left behind by tornadoes and severe storms. 

DeWine declared states of emergency for Greene, Mercer, and Montgomery counties. He flew over Beavercreek and Celina to look at the damage and went on the ground to see the path of destruction firsthand.

A photo of Brecksville Dam
KABIR BHATIA / WKSU

Editor's Note: This story was originally published on May 2, 2019.

One of the last remaining dams on the Cuyahoga River will soon be coming down.

The Brecksville dam was built in 1952 to divert water to operations of what is now Charter Steel in Cleveland.

Elaine Marsh, president of the Friends of the Crooked River, announced this week that Kokosing Industrial has been hired to remove the dam.

Updated at 12:41 p.m. ET

Several tornadoes touched down in highly populated areas of Dayton and other Ohio communities late Monday night, causing catastrophic damage. The storms devastated dozens of buildings and trees. One death has been reported, officials said Tuesday morning.

A photo of a nuclear cooling tower
ANDY CHOW / STATEHOUSE NEWS BUREAU

The Ohio House has dramatically changed the comprehensive energy bill that would bailout the state’s nuclear power plants and repeal alternative energy mandates. 

Under the changes neither wind nor solar power can qualify for the so-called “Clean Air Credits,” according to House Energy committee chair Nino Vitale (R-Urbana).

This seemingly leaves nuclear power as the only beneficiary of the program. 

a photograph of John Bryan State Park
ANDY CHOW / STATEHOUSE NEWS BUREAU

A group of experts took a close look at Ohio’s 75 state parks to find out what kind of improvements can be made. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources said they want to take the parks to the next level, which could include everything from renovated cabins and smoother operations to new attractions. 

Updates and potential for expansion might include installing more pools and creating new trails. ODNR Director Mary Mertz also pointed out that the cabins, which have been around since the '70s are in need of a facelift.

A photo of FirstEnergy CEO Chuck Jones
JEFF ST.CLAIR / WKSU

The future of Ohio’s two nuclear plants remains up in the air as a bailout package, House Bill 6, works its way through the state legislature. The package would throw a lifeline to bankrupt FirstEnergy Solutions. Its former parent company, FirstEnergy hosted shareholders at its annual meeting in Akron Tuesday. Protesters were there too.  

During a recent training session, a group of urban farmers in Mansfield, Ohio, huddled around a small raised bed of radishes, examining the crop’s growth after a cold spring week.

They aren't on your typical farm. Dozens of small beds of greens are lined up under tunnels in this “micro farm” on the Ohio State University Mansfield campus, which is built on top of a parking lot.

photo of algae
NOAA

A Cleveland group has been awarded a grant for its work on a toxic algae early detection system for Lake Erie.

The Cleveland Water Alliance is being recognized by the Great Lakes Protection Fund for using technology to make Lake Erie healthier.  Alliance Director Bryan Stubbs said they plan to unveil a prototype of an algae early warning system next month, which could feed data to water treatment plants and, possibly in the future, the public.

photo of Tinkers Creek cleanup
KABIR BHATIA / WKSU

The 30th annual River Day took place today with activities ranging from kayaking to history walks to removal of invasive species.

At Tinkers Creek in Warrensville Heights, about a dozen people collected close to 20 bags of trash, including numerous basketballs and old tires.

The creek is a tributary of the Cuyahoga River and the clean-up there was organized by Jacki Zevenbergen. She’s with the Cuyahoga Soil & Water Conservation District, and says that she’s focused on educating people to continue the river’s improvement.

photo of recycling bin
WKSU

The City of Akron has partnered with local sustainability organizations to institute a Recycle Right campaign. ReWorks and Keep Akron Beautiful will work with the city to teach residents how to properly recycle.

Keep Akron Beautiful CEO, Jacqui Ricchiuti, says people need a refresher on what is recyclable.

BRIAN BULL / WCPN

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is finalizing plans for the next phase of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. The effort began in 2010 and has funded more than 4,000 improvement projects totaling $2.4 billion.

The next phase is set to begin in September and be carried out over the next five years. It’s moving forward despite President Trump’s initial plan to de-fund it.  

Lawmakers fought to have funding restored, but Senator Sherrod Brown said the president’s view of the project is a concern.

a photo outside the combined sewer overflow outfall
SARAH TAYLOR / WKSU

When we hear about infrastructure, most of us probably think of roads and bridges. But there is plenty of underground infrastructure you can’t see--unless you get a behind the scenes tour, which a small group did Tuesday at Edgewater Beach in Cleveland.

"I wouldn’t suggest touching everything all of the time and rollin’ around in there."

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