April 2019 Newsletter

Are we approaching the next Silent Spring?

Rachel Carson raised the red flag years ago. Pesticides were not only killing insects, but also disrupting the delicate balance of nature. Now history is repeating itself. To commemorate Earth Day 2019, the Northeast Ohio Sierra Club extends an invitation to attend the enlightening program, “Next Silent Spring?” This free event will be held at the Cleveland Museum of Art Recital Hall on Sunday, April 28, from 2 – 4 PM. Laurel Hopwood, Senior Advisor to Sierra Club’s Pollinator Protection Program, will show the outstanding documentary “Nicotine Bees.” Pollinator populations are declining. How does this affect our food supply? How does this affect our entire ecosystem?
 A panel of experts will discuss how everyone can help move things forward:

* Dr. Mary Gardiner, Associate Professor in the OSU Department of Entomology, and her graduate students have been introducing pollinator pockets throughout vacant lots in Cleveland.

* Tom Gibson, principal of Green Paradigm Partners, uses his soil building and community organizing skills to help revive neighborhoods.

* Elle Adams, founder of City Rising Farm, helps people in underserved communities learn to grow fresh local food and create opportunities in their own neighborhoods. For more info, please contact Laurel at lhopwood@roadrunner.com.

Film Festival underway

The 43nd Cleveland International Film Festival (CIFF) continues through April 7at Tower City Cinemas and NEO Sierra Club is again a proud community partner with the festival. We are a partner for the documentary entitled, Right to Harm, which examines the environmental harm done by factory farming and the use of concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs). The film informs us about how animal waste from CAFOs has affected adjacent communities and we learn how citizens have organized to force government officials to regulate CAFOs. The film has direct relevance to Ohio as we struggle to limit the amount of animal waste and fertilizer that enter into Lake Erie. For screening times and ticket information, go to www.clevelandfilm.org Use the codeword “SIERRA” to receive a $1 discount on tickets.

Curb Plastic Bag Campaign Update

Cuyahoga County has a bill to curb and/or ban plastic bag distribution in stores over a certain size. In 1 and ½ years, the bill has not been moved to a vote. Now that recycling has been closed on us by China and landfill machinery gets clogged by plastics, we have nowhere to go but to slow the pace of plastic production. Sierra Club endorsed councilwoman Sunny Simon, the sponsor of the bag bill. Call her at 216-698-2035 and the bill’s co-sponsor, Dale Miller, at 216-698-2011. Tell them you want the bill brought before the Council NOW.

Our Legislature and the Environment

by Michael Melampy

On March 19 I participated in a Meet Your Legislator day organized by the Buckeye Environmental Council. The event gave citizens an opportunity to discuss environmental legislation with their state representatives and senators. The focus of discussion was that increases penalties for protesters who happen to trespass on oil company property and a new proposal to allow brine from oil and gas wells to be sold as a road deicer. SB 33 not only imposes new penalties on individuals but would allow oil companies to seek damages against any organization that might sponsor a protest in which trespassing occurs. There are already laws in place to deal with trespassing, so the new law seems redundant. However, the oil companies are trying to redefine the bill as a measure to protect “critical infrastructure” which might be threatened by protesters. The definition of critical infrastructure is extremely broad, making it very easy for the companies to claim damages and go after environmental organizations. The specificity of the bill in mentioning protests on oil company property makes it clear that the intent is to ensure smooth sailing for fracking in Ohio. As Sierra Club members, we need to redouble our efforts to oppose this legislation and the entire fracking industry.

The brine initiative is something that has flown under the media radar so far. The problem with brine is that it contains more than water and salt. It also contains a variety of toxic heavy metals, some of which are radioactive. Brine is already used is some parts of the state for deicing and tests of that brine have indicated radioactivity levels that exceed safety standards established by the EPA. We need to be vigilant and actively oppose any bill that is actually produced to allow the sale of brine.

Finally, we discussed the gas tax issue with our legislators and urged them to support Governor DeWine’s proposed 18 cent tax increase. It was extremely disappointing to learn that the Senate passed such a small (only 6 cents) increase in the tax. The small increase coupled with provisions to tax hybrid and plug-in cars negate any environmental benefit that DeWine’s proposed increase would have had. While Republican legislators cited concerns about the regressive nature of the tax, where was that concern when they were cutting the state income tax in a manner that benefited the wealthy? The admittedly regressive nature of a gas tax could easily be offset by redressing the income tax cuts to make them fairer for low income people.

The legislature remains firmly controlled by the oil and gas lobby making it imperative that we work harder to change its composition. There was very little change in 2018 but there were hopeful signs. Phil Robinson, a pro-environment candidate, won a house seat in a district previously controlled by Republicans, and Casimir Svigeli came close in his attempt to win a west side house seat. With a little more assistance from Sierra Club and other environmental organizations, we might get candidates like Svigeli over the hump.

NEO Sierra Club must become a more effective political organization. While we endorse candidates, we are not mobilizing our membership to volunteer for candidates and help them with canvassing and other campaign activities. In 2020, we need to identify pro-environment candidates for the Ohio legislature and focus our volunteer efforts on helping them mount rallies and gain access to the public and the media. Donating money to campaigns will help but we need to go beyond that and volunteer. Focusing volunteer efforts on candidates who might win could have a real impact on the legislature and raise Sierra Club’s profile as a political force to be reckoned with. We can’t dawdle any longer. Remember, the gives us only 12 years to avert real climate disaster.


#trashtag Trend Gets Traction in

Cuyahoga County with Help from Cuyahoga Recycles

Are you part of the #trashtag Challenge – the global movement that went viral on social media earlier this month? People all over the world are participating by cleaning up litter and posting before and after pictures on social media with the hashtag #trashtag.

Cuyahoga Recycles offers supplies and support to organizations and schools that want to get involved in environmental clean-up efforts.

Clean Up Cuyahoga kits include recycling bags, garbage bags, cloth gloves, car litter bags, seed packets, educational materials and promotional items. Groups and schools can request kits for up to 30 participants. Any adult representative of a school or youth group may request a clean-up kit by completing this short form.

Cuyahoga Recycles can also loan additional supplies like large shovels, garden shovels, litter pick-up tools, safety vests and additional garden gloves for large groups or group plantings.


Upcoming Events

How Things Work at the StatehouseThursday, April 4, 2019, 6:30pm, Strongsville Library, Classroom B, 18700 Westwood Drive, Strongsville. Learn how you can have an impact on legislation in Columbus. Registration at 6:30pm, class starts at 7. Sponsored by the Ohio Democratic Party and Cleveland Indivisible. Free and open to the public.

Sustainable CLEVELAND Spring MeetingWednesday, April 10, 2019, 5:30pm8:00pm, Great Lakes Brewing Company Tasting Room. Connect with Cuyahoga 50 to help celebrate the Environmental Movement sparked by the Burning Cuyahoga River. Free and open to the public, but get tickets. Information at: .https://www.facebook.com/events/333339434194455/

Climate Action House Party with Author/Activist Ed FallonThursday, April 11, 2019, 6pm9pm, , Cleveland 44113. Ed Fallon is a former Iowa lawmaker, current director of Bold Iowa, and organizer of the Great Climate March in 2014. He will talk about the March and his book about it will be available for purchase. Join us for an evening of great company and stories. .

✻ Are We Heading Towards the Next Silent Spring?Sunday, April 28, 2019, 2pm4pm. Rachel Carson raised the red flag years ago. Pesticides were not only killing insects, but also disrupting the delicate balance of nature. Now history is repeating itself. To commemorate Earth Day 2019, the Northeast Ohio Sierra Club extends an invitation to attend the enlightening program, “Next Silent Spring?” This free event will be held at the Cleveland Museum of Art Recital Hall .