By Andi Whitaker, NEO Sierra Club Newsletter Editor
Last month, I joined a group of Sierra Club representatives from the Ohio Chapter and the Northeast Ohio Group to meet with Marcy Kaptur, the congresswoman serving Ohio’s new 9th District. Because many of us will be represented by Rep. Kaptur for the first time when she wins the election in November, we wanted to introduce ourselves, build a relationship to handle local issues, and develop lines of communication to help educate politicians. Not only do we hope to have our voices heard, but we’d like to be a resource for Congresswoman Kaptur at policy-making time.
Pat McKenna, our Executive Committee Chair, moderated the meeting. Rep. Kaptur introduced herself to each person at the table. When she reached Ohio Chapter Chairperson Bob Shields, he introduced himself then told Rep. Kaptur that the NEO Group was the most active group in Ohio. Chapter staff member Akshai Singh spoke on the importance of energy efficiency and the development of renewable energy sources in our area. Specifically, he asked that we be efficient with coal burning and increase the domestic wind supply content in Ohio.
Rep. Kaptur agreed with us on the importance of renewables and implementing new technology, starting with federal locations. She said that her goal was to see renewable energy installations capable of generating 900 megawatts to complete with the Davis-Besse nuclear reactor. “Lake Erie is the Saudi Arabia of wind,” said the congresswoman, highlighting the enormous opportunity presented by our unique geography. “America thinks of us as the Cuyahoga River burning. People do not understand where we live.” But she added that, “as a region, we can do our own sales” by being at the cutting edge of research deployment and leading the way for renewable energy production.
Bob Shields presented our second topic: storm water runoff into Lake Erie, still a problem so long after the implementation of the Clean Water Act. Not only is the issue about lake pollution, but runoff damages the farming industry. We would like to focus on working with people within the watershed to curb runoff so that the Lake can heal. Chapter Staff Conservation Coordinator Amanda Keith spoke on the Sierra Club’s Clean Water Campaign and Water Sentinel Program. Steve McPhee, our NEO Water Committee Chair, talked about NEO’s participation in Riversweep, the nation’s largest one-day river cleanup. Kaptur stressed how important it is for her as a congressperson to learn our area’s waterways and flood points. She seemed very interested in the information gathered by our Water Sentinels and how she can use it to improve the health of our waterways.
NEO Nuclear Committee Chair Bob Greenbaum brought up the issue of Cleveland’s proposed waste-to-energy incinerator. He said that we want to present facts to Kaptur’s office and enlist her help in educating politicians on the dangers of this proposal. He mentioned that we’ve had a history of working with Dennis Kucinich’s office and the we hope to work closely with hers in the future.
Rep. Kaptur asserted that she has “a real consciousness of energy and environment” and that it was “one of [her] main reasons for running for office.” The NEO and Ohio Sierra Club will be proud to assist Kaptur and her office in any initiatives to move sustainable technology forward and protect our natural environment.