My name is Catherine Turcer. I am the legislative director for Ohio Citizen Action, the state’s largest environmental organization with 100,000 members. 

 

Something stinks in Ohio today, and it’s not just the odor of chemical emissions which pervade many of our communities.  It’s the process by which the Taft administration apparently decided to do a last-minute favor for its contributors from the chemical, oil, and manufacturing sectors by gutting Ohio’s nuisance rules.   These polluters have long sought ways to avoid environmental enforcement.  These proposed rules represent one of their most bald-faced moves. 

 

Ohio Citizen Action has worked with dozens of communities across the state.  For many the first clue that there was dangerous pollution in their neighborhood was the chemical odor.   These odors sometimes present health hazards in and of themselves, and sometimes are markers of other dangerous emissions.  The ability for citizens or state or local government to enforce nuisance laws regarding odors is critically important.  This is not only about stopping those odors.  It is about getting to the underlying problems and consequences of chemical emissions at these facilities.

 

Governor Ted Strickland took office just hours ago. He has not appointed an Ohio EPA Director, and the caretaker director left in place by Governor Taft has held the job for all of seven days.  Governor Strickland has both the moral and the legal justification to withdraw these ill advised proposed rules and start over by listening to what the residents of our communities are telling him. 

 

Ohio has the highest level of toxic air pollution in the nation. Citizens and enforcement agencies need more tools to push companies to prevent pollution, to protect public health, the environment, and the economy.   If we’re going to “turn around Ohio,” let’s begin by rejecting this lame-duck maneuver to gut environmental enforcement.