Snyder Asks Ohio Governor to Veto Great Lakes Water Bill

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Ohio Gov. John Kasich faced growing pressure from other Great Lakes states Thursday to veto a bill that would allow Ohio factories to pull more water out of Lake Erie.
The proposal, intended to align the state with the Great Lakes Compact, cleared the Republican-led state Legislature last month over the objections of two former Ohio governors and a former state natural resources director. Newspapers across the state also have urged a veto.
"There is potential legal action" ahead between the states if the Ohio bill becomes law, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Thursday. "We don't want to get involved in a dispute with another state if we can avoid it, and we're going to have conversations because it is a situation that causes us concern.
But "We will do whatever we have to do to protect the rights of New York," he said.
Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder's office also contacted Ohio on Thursday to express concern, said Kasich spokesman Rob Nichols. Nichols said a decision will be announced Friday, ahead of a Monday deadline for the governor to act.
Snyder spokeswoman Sara Wurfel said the state is committed to the compact, a group of state, federal and international interests to protect the Great Lakes basin.
"We believe a viable compact is a key to this protection. We are looking carefully at Ohio's legislation and sharing concerns and raising questions with their leaders," she said in an email.
The bill would allow factories and other businesses to withdraw millions more gallons of water daily from Lake Erie before needing a special permit, and would create a water withdrawal regulatory program. It would require permits for businesses with new or increased withdrawal capacity that take an average of more than 5 million gallons of water a day from the lake over a 90-day period.
But former Ohio Gov. Bob Taft, who was key in negotiating the compact, raised concerns during a rare legislative appearance that the bill establishes thresholds for removing water from Lake Erie and criteria for judging the impact of withdrawals that appear to violate the compact. He predicted the proposal would spark litigation against Ohio and other lake states.
Sam Speck, who served as Taft's natural resources director, said the new rules would greatly weaken the state's water supply protections. And former U.S. Sen. George Voinovich of Cleveland urged lawmakers to add protections "to ensure that this resource is available for future generations."
Rep. Lynn Wachtmann, the bill's sponsor, and Sen. Tim Grendell, who helped draft the measure, said Taft had his facts wrong and the bill addresses his concerns. Wachtmann took a shot at Taft, saying the former governor was more environmentally- than business-friendly when he held the top office.
Kasich, Taft, Voinovich, and Michigan Gov. Snyder are Republicans. Cuomo is a Democrat.



 
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