3/20/2019

To the editor:

After reading the misleading March 6 editorial by Putnam County attorney Lee Schroeder “Will Lake Erie sue you?” I felt compelled to assure readers they will not be sued for spilling “a single drop of phosphorus” or “a drop of any chemical.” His editorial was loose with facts and heavy on scare tactics.

This kind of fear-mongering is not surprising since a well-funded campaign used the same tactics in radio ads and push polling by two newly-formed “shadow PACs” to smear the Lake Erie Bill of Rights before the February special election.

Schroeder encourages “shields” from lawsuits, suggesting ag districts could be used as a defense for farm-related nuisances. Similarly, the Ohio Department of Agriculture and OSU College of Ag are now encouraging farmers and producers to use “affirmative defenses” from civil liability written into Ohio’s ag laws.

According to Wikipedia, “an affirmative defense to a civil lawsuit … is a fact … that defeats … the legal consequences of otherwise unlawful conduct.”

Below are some facts readers need to know:

What has changed since Lake Erie was cleaned up in the 1990s?

* The Lake Erie Commission Strategic Objectives stated – “The investment of hundreds of millions of dollars in sewage treatment plant upgrades, adoption of pollution prevention technologies and improvements in industrial wastewater treatment have resulted in reaching our reduction goals for most point source pollutants.”

• The Ohio Lake Erie Phosphorus Task Force Report stated – “phosphorus fertilizer sales have been below the running historic average since 2001.”

• House Bill 491 banned high phosphate detergents in 1988.

• Scotts removed phosphorus from lawn care products in 2012.

• The number of confined animal feeding operations (factory farms) has increased dramatically during the past 20 years. Many of these huge CAFOs spread millions of gallons of untreated, phosphorus-rich waste on tiled farm fields in the western Lake Erie basin.

Joe Logan, president of the Ohio Farmers Union, has stated “If farmers are doing things right and taking care of livestock, acreage and crops in a responsible manner, they don’t have anything to worry about.”

Quite simply the Lake Erie Bill of Rights is essential because the Ohio EPA and U.S. EPA have failed to protect Lake Erie from Big Ag and big animal/poultry producers – the same folks responsible for trying to smear LEBOR. Don’t be fooled by these deceptive big-ag tactics working to preserve their right to pollute.

Vickie Askins

Cygnet