Activist alerts

Below you will find a list of events or upcoming legislation in the following categories to be aware of and, if possible, to act upon.

Click on the following links to get to the latest Activist Alerts:

Watershed Alerts
Sustainable Food Systems
Community Organizing
Clean Air
Green Building


Bike to Work Day organizing

In order to make the upcoming Bike to Work days more fun, Cleveland Bikes is trying to get an idea of what the most common routes people will be taking. Check out the forum and post your route and approximate time of travel. If you are a regular commuter or would like to participate in upcoming Bike to Work events, click here and reply to my
message with your predicted route and time of travel. Once we have a good idea of where people are coming from and where they are going, we can set up meeting points around the region where riders can fuel up with a hot cup of
coffee and ride in with partners if they would like.

Transit legislation to open national wildlands

As the 108th Congress reconvenes on January 20, 2004 there is an issue with the TEA-21 reauthorization legislation that bears close watching. At issue is the interest of some legislators to change the language in Sec. 4(f) of the massive transportation bill. This is the section of the bill that provides protection for historic sites, wildlife refuges and PARKS when siting highway projects.

During the Environment and Public Works Committee's drafting of S. 1072, the TEA-21 reauthorization, Senator Voinovich expressed an intent to introduce amendments to streamline the environmental review process to move highway projects expeditiously. Reportedly, Senator Voinovich discussed two major Sec. 4(f) amendments. One would follow the Bush administration recommendation that state departments of transportation be allowed to site rights-of-way that would only cause minor impacts on parks, wildlife refuges and historic sites. Under current law, the language states that highway construction can impact these valuable public resources only if there is no prudent or feasible alternative.

A second Voinovich amendment would eliminate Sec. 4(f) altogether, with the understanding
that the National Historic Preservation Act already provides protection to historic areas. The TEA-21 reauthorization, S. 1072, will most likely be considered by the full Senate in the last or 2nd week of February. That is when Sen. Voinovich would introduce his amendments to weaken statutory
protection for parks during highway construction. Sen. Voinovich is interested in hearing from stakeholders on this issue. To contact him.

More Safe Routes to School in transit bill?

In early February 2004, the US Senate is scheduled to vote on the new transportation bill. The bill currently contains language creating a national Safe Routes to School program, providing money to communities for infrastructure and education projects. But there's a move afoot in the
Senate to strip the program from the bill entirely. Bike advocates are asking for all to call both U.S. Senators to support Safe Routes to School in SAFETEA, S 1072, and fully fund the program at $250 million a year.

The Senate bill currently calls for only $70 million a year for Safe Routes, while the House bill calls for $250 million a year. Under the Senate funding level, some states would not receive enough funding to make more than a
few infrastructure improvements. S1072, SAFETEA, is the Senate's version of the six year reauthorization of
TEA-21. Most of the $255 billion in the bill goes to states for highway construction. To contact Sen. Mike DeWine.

To learn more about Safe Routes to School and SAFETEA.

Constituency development is goal for high-speed rail
With the expected release this spring (2004) of the state's Ohio & Lake Erie Regional Rail-Cleveland Hub Study, the Ohio Corridor Campaigns is facing its most important year thus far. But this isn't just about the Corridor Campaigns. If you want to avoid seeing this study join its predecessors by gathering dustrather than momentumthen now is the time for you, your company, your agency or local government, to join the Corridor Campaigns.

While there have been other attempts at starting rail passenger service in Ohio in recent decades, this study, administered by the Ohio Rail Development Commission (ORDC), is the most comprehensive one in more than 20 years. The Cleveland Hub Study (as it is more commonly known) is unlike past analyses by the state which had considered only one or two isolated routes within Ohio. Now, the ORDC is looking at a multi-route system to fill a gap between Amtrak's Chicago-based Midwest rail corridors and those in the Northeast.

Another reason why this study differs from past efforts is because a constituency is emerging that will not allow it to collect dust. A larger and more diverse constituency needs to emerge more quicklynow. That's why the primary goal for the Ohio Corridor Campaigns in 2004 is to increase the number of memberships and the resources of money, talent and partnerships. With your help, we will increase our public and media relations efforts and enhance our presence among legislators in Columbus and Washington D.C. to advocate for the Cleveland Hub System.

The Ohio Corridor Campaigns is planning several strategy sessions in the coming months at locations throughout the state. If you can help organize or host them in your community, please contact Campaign Director Ken Prendergast at 888-488-8439 as soon as possible.

Watershed Alerts:

Comment on House bill to alter Lake Erie shoreline

The following alert about House bill 218 is from the Ohio Environmental Council: Opponent testimony for HB 218 (which the Ohio Environmental Council is calling the "Great Lake Erie Giveaway Bill") is scheduled for Wednesday, February 18, 2004 at 10 a.m. in the Senate South Hearing Room on the
2nd floor, Ohio Senate Office Building (located adjacent to the Ohio Statehouse). The bill is in the Ohio Senate Energy, Natural Resource, and Environment Committee. For a roster of this committee. if you are interested in delivering opponent testimony at this hearing or call 614-487-7506. If you have any questions, ask for Jack Shaner or House Bill 218 would redefine the state's ownership of the Lake Erie shoreline to stop at the natural low watermark and would give near carte-blanch to private landowners to build structures above that mark. Click here for more information.

Ohio legislation to protect Lake Erie

Governor Taft's ban against drilling in Lake Erie marks a huge victory in the fight to protect Ohio's greatest natural resource. The next step is already underway to restore Lake Erie and all the Great Lakes. The legislation, the Great Lakes Environmental Restoration Act, would dedicate $6 billion over 10 years for restoring and protecting the Great Lakes. Thank Senators DeWine and Voinovich for their leadership, and urge them to ask President Bush for a firm commitment to dedicate funds for this project.

Comment on new rules for the Clean Water Act

The Bush administration has announced its intention to re-define what waters of the United States will continue to be protected by the Clean Water Act. Headwater streams and wetlands, and so-called isolated waters are under consideration for losing protections from pollution discharges, filling and dredging. The Clean Water Network is urging people to respond to the Bush administration's request for comment on the scope of the Clean Water Act, to provide irrefutable evidence that the grounds for narrowing the scope of the Clean Water Act are baseless. If possible, CWN encourages you to reach out to the scientific community in your state or region to provide input on these questions. Read the EPA's Advanced Notice of Proposed Rule Making. And to submit comments electronically (Docket ID NO. OW-2002-0050)

Support strengthened wetlands protection

The Audubon Society of Greater Cleveland recently sent out the following alert: As many as 20 million acres of the nation's wetlands may lose federal protection from industrial pollution and unlawful development based on new guidelines announced by the Bush Administration on Jan. 10. Officials said the step is necessary to comply with a 2001 Supreme Court decision called SWANCC, which allows regional offices of the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers to withhold protection from 'isolated' wetlands. The regulation covers 20 percent of the 100 million acres of the U.S. wetlands. Letters during the public comment period can be sent to: Water Docket, EPA, Mailcode 4101T, 1200 Pennsylvania Ave., NW, Washington, D.C. 20460 Att: Docket ID No. OW-2002-0050. Suggested points are that wetlands support half of North America's breeding waterfowl, and many salamanders and frogs, and are invaluable floodwater retention and groundwater recharge areas.

Support the future of native aquatic species

Great Lakes United is printing pre-paid postcards for U.S. citizens to send to their federal senators and representative to support the National Aquatic Invasive Species Act. NAISA would improve federal authority and funding for prevention and control of aquatic invasive species. NAISA is expected to be introduced in Congress in early February, and public support is needed to move this good legislation quickly towards approval. Call 716-886-0142.

Support the future of native species in the Great Lakes... through legislation

In its recent report, Research and Management Priorities for Aquatic Invasive Species, released by the International Association of Great Lakes Research (IAGLR), challenges the U.S. and Canadian governments to eliminate all new introductions of aquatic invasive species into the Great Lakes within 10 years.

Aquatic invasive species have an impact on both the ecology of the Great Lakes and on the economy. Ballast discharge from foreign ships is the top source for invasions. The Congressional Office of Technology Assessment calculated almost $100 billion in U.S. economic losses over an 85-year period from just 79 non-indigenous species.

Aquatic invasive species are also having dramatic and damaging impacts on the Great Lakes ecosystem, including the loss of organisms and biodiversity, disruptions to food webs, and impacts to economically important fish species.

Sustainable Food Systems:

Maintain funding for renewable energy for farms

Section 9006, a cornerstone of the energy title in the 2002 Farm Bill, calls for funding for renewable energy systems and energy efficiency improvements. It provides new financial incentives, grants, loans and loan guarantees for farmers, ranchers and rural small businesses to install clean energy systems and make energy efficiency improvements. The Bush Administration is threatening to cut the funding. Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), chairman of the Senate Finance Committee and Sen. Tim Harkin (D-Iowa), a member of the Senate Appropriations subcommittee, will challenge these proposed funding cuts in the Section 9006 program. Click here to write an email of support.

Help put an end to growing genetically engineered drugs

Without public debate, food crops are being used to create genetically engineered pharmaceutical drugs and industrial chemicals! It's called "pharming." Three hundred (300) open-air field trials have already been conducted in unidentified locations across the country. While most of these substances are kept secret as confidential business information, a few known examples include a contraceptive, potent growth hormones, blood thinners, industrial enzymes, and vaccines. The ecological implications of hacked genetic code slipping into our food and forests are unknown, but potentially damaging.

Support FDA labeling genetically engineered food

The following activist alert is courtesy of Ohio Sierra Club. In an unusual and disturbing move, the FDA's (acting) deputy commissioner, Lester Crawford, sent a letter to the Governor of Oregon, John Kitzhaber, objecting to Measure 27 (which is on the November ballot to label genetically engineered (GE) food. The FDA is ignoring growing evidence that GE foods could pose significant human health problems such as allergies and antibiotic resistance. Rather than interfere with Oregon's election process, Deputy Commissioner Crawford needs to work towards labeling genetically engineered foods as the public is demanding. Please contact FDA Deputy Commissioner Crawford. Tell him to label genetically engineered foods! Send an email here or to to deputy commissioner Crawford. Or call 301-827-2410.

Rep. Kucinich's genetically engineered food acts

Rep. Dennis Kucinich has introduced five bills in the House of Representatives that call for genetically engineered food labeling, improved oversight and testing, protecting farmers from biotech companies, clarifying and reforming liability, and helping developing nations develop food systems. The bills are:

  • Genetically Engineered Food Right to Know Act (H.R. 4814)
  • Genetically Engineered Food Safety Act (H.R. 4813)
  • Genetically Engineered Crop and Animal Farmer Protection Act (H.R. 4812)
  • Genetically Engineered Organism Liability Act (H.R. 4816)
  • Real Solutions to World Hunger Act (H.R. 4815)

Click here for more information about these bills.


Energy bill 'worst legislation in our lifetime'

Natural Resources Defence Council BioGems Defender sent the following activist alert about the upcoming Congressional vote on President Bush's energy plan:

Over the next few weeks, President Bush and his congressional allies will try once again to ram their disastrous energy bill through the U.S. Senate. They fell only two votes short in November (2003) and they've vowed to make passage of the bill their top priority now that Congress has returned from recess.

This bill may be the worst piece of legislation you and I will see in our lifetimes. Bush administration's energy legislation (HR 6) would enrich oil, gas, coal and nuclear companies with billions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies while sacrificing our last wild places, promoting risky nuclear power, poisoning our air and worsening our destructive dependence on fossil fuels.
To send an email to your two senators.

Community Organizing:

Reform Ohio's litigation and insurance fields

The Ohio Environmental Council released the following activist alert: Reforms of Ohio's litigation and insurance environment are being carried out in a reckless manner. Today, House Bill 350 is set to be voted on in the Ohio House of Representatives. This bill will unfairly restrict the right and ability of innocent people who have been harmed by an industrial or environmental hazard from being compensated for their injuries. for more information.

We ask you to contact your state representative IMMEDIATELY and urge them to vote "NO" on HB 350, which hands out a free pass to those who poison our waters, violate our soils, and make our work places unsafe by undercutting punitive damage settlements. Visit to email or call them.

The OEC wants you to green up Ohio

The OEC announced the Green-Up Ohio programmade up of three exciting new initiatives that the OEC has launched this year: the Green Legislative Agenda, Green Papers, and Green Teams. These programs revolve around a single critical goalto strengthen the ability of Ohios environmental groups to effectively influence and improve state environmental policies. Click here to learn more.

Organize! Ohio maintains listserve for activists

Organize! Ohio is continuing efforts to increase communication between organizers across the state with its listserve O! O e-group exchanges information and in a forum/organizing tool including postings about a petition campaign to bring affordable prescription drugs to
Ohioans, explanation of the Ohio Department of Education's funding proposal, etc. To share information with the group, please send your posting to: and include "e-group" in the subject line (all posting subject to editing).


Taft's mining oversight selection's conflict of interest

Last month Governor Taft appointed Debra Carey to the Ohio Reclamation Commission. The commission is a seven-member panel that hears disputes regarding mining operations and safety. Debra Carey is the mother of Michael Carey, the president of the Ohio Coal Association (coal industry trade group). She has been appointed to the seat that represents the public. This seat is meant to round out the commission by having the interest of the public represented along with the industry. When a property owner's land subsides from a coal mine and causes water loss in his/her drinking well, or blasting from a stripmine causes a person's house foundation to crack, or a number of other problems from mining occur that cause problems for a family, the commission is the entity that is charged with upholding citizens' rights. Also, the Commission is the body that Buckeye Forest Council has appealed to to reverse the permit to mine under Dysart Woods old-growth forest. The appointment of Debra Carey to the Ohio Reclamation Commission could have a detrimental effect on citizens living in the coalfields of Ohio as well as on Dysart Woods. The Ohio Environmental Council urges emails, calls, or letters to Governor Taft to ask him to withdrawal his appointment of Debra Carey to the Ohio Reclamation Commission. (Email or phone calls are recommended.) Governor Bob Taft
30th Floor
77 South High Street
Columbus, Ohio 43215-6117
Phone 614-466-3555 or 614-644-HELP
Follow this link to send your comments by email

Stay active in saving Ohio's forests

The Wayne National Forest plan emphasizing management options is in phase twodevelopments of alternatives (phase one was the public comment period). During this phase, forest conservation issues will be addressed in detail to ensure an effective long-term plan. Opportunities for participation in this phase are available online.

Oversight of MetroParks needed

The Sierra Club Northeast Ohio Group recognizes the need for the Cleveland Metroparks to have an environmentally-conscious member on their Board of Directors. Currently there are no board members with a naturalist or biology background and thus no one at the policy-making level to protect or ensure best-environmental practices. This is an unacceptable and dangerous state of affairs. Currently the Metroparks manages approximately 19,000 acres of natural land. Public control of Cleveland Metroparks is
specified in Ohio Law as a three-person commission appointed by the Presiding Judge of the County Probate Court, a post currently held by Judge John Donnelly. Judge Donnelly is quoted in the Plain Dealer saying he has
not heard conservation concerns from the community. Let us begin to express ourselves directly to him. Click here to read more background information. To write a letter to this judge to consider appointing an environmentally-conscious member of the Board of Directors and to encourage the Board to consider expanding the Metroparks: Hon. John Donnelly, 1 Lakeside Ave., Cleveland, Ohio 44113.

Ask Senate to conserve our nation's natural assets

The U.S. Senate is about to decide whether to spend your tax dollars to exploit or protect our land, air, and water. Depending on their action or inaction: Logging companies may actually be encouraged to log more trees from our State Forests; Developers and others could continue to enjoy a $1 million taxpayer subsidy to search and destroy Ohio's remaining wetlands; Private companies could make you pay to access taxpayer-funded environmental information on the internet. Click here to take action on this alert.

Clean Air:

Sierra Club launces new clean air campaign

Sierra Club in Cleveland is launching a "Clean Air and Water for Cleveland Families" campaign. The focus of this grassroots campaign is to pressure FirstEnergy to reduce toxic mercury, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, and particulate
matter pollution from its three northeast Ohio coal-burning power plants. Read a letter of support for the campaign. to sign on to the letter of support.

Reduce mercury exposure to mothers, babies

The EPA will soon issue rules to reduce the danger that mercury from power plants poses to women of childbearing
age, pregnant women, infants and toddlers. To send a
comment to cut mercury emissions from power plants by 90 percent by 2008, click on this link. Background: Mercury is a dangerous toxic metal that can cause severe neurological and developmental problems in unborn fetuses and very young children whose brains are still developing. People are exposed to mercury mainly by eating fish. The EPA, FDA and forty-three states have now issued advisories warning people, especially women and children, to avoid or limit eating local fish because of mercury. But even with these warnings, the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention estimate that 1 out of 12 U.S. women of childbearing years have unsafe levels of mercury in their blood due to
fish consumption. The best way to protect women and children from mercury is to eliminate it from its largest source: power plants.

Strengthen Ohio EPA public input provision

The following alert is courtesy of Ohio Environmental Council: Each time a state air pollution permit is issued or renewed, Ohioans have to right to provide public input in the setting of air pollution limits. With the current changes proposed by the Ohio EPA, Ohioans will lose an important opportunity to provide public input and to address unforeseen air pollution problems at a new facility in their neighborhood. In many cases, they would have to wait ten years before they can have the right to provide that input. For more information, contact Kurt Waltzer ( at 614-487-7506. Or get involved directly.

Clean up Ohio's smokestacks

As incredible as it sounds, in Ohio, operators of dirty power plants can comply with a key part of the Clean Air Act by simply surveying the sky once a year for smoke.

Depending on how dark the smoke appears, they can claim that they're following the law for soot emissions. What's worse, they can use this standard even if more reliable, continuous computerized emissions data is collected from the same smokestack! In Ohio, that's the law.

The Ohio Environmental Council and other groups are urging citizens to call Senator George Voinovich toll-free at (888) 765-3394 and ask him to encourage limits on power plant emissions of the global warming gas carbon dioxide.

Green Building:

Green Building Coalition seeks projects for brochure

Cleveland Green Building Coalition is printing a project description brochure of green building initiatives in Greater Cleveland that have happened in the last year or are currently underway. If you are involved with such a project, big or small, please send a brief (a few sentences or a paragraph) description of the project and/or your involvement in it for consideration. Be sure to include your name and the name of your organization. Send to or call Melanie or Sadhu at 216-623-0033.

Green Building Coalition seeks input on reduction of construction waste and demolition debris in region

The Cleveland Green Building Coalition, with funding from the Cuyahoga County Solid Waste District, is conducting a feasibility study of construction and demolition debris reduction in Northeast Ohio. As part of this study, the CGBC is hosting an e-mail list-serve to share ideas regarding this important issue. To join the discussion, please send an e-mail to:
Contact Sadhu at 216-623-0033 with questions or comments.

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