In the state budget that was just signed by Gov. Mike DeWine, a section was added as a last-minute amendment just before the Ohio House passed its version in May. Section 2305.011 is a devious attempt to undermine the Lake Erie Bill of Rights, which was overwhelmingly passed by Toledo voters this past February, despite large sums of dark money from BP North America.

This section states that ”… nature or any ecosystem does not have standing to participate or bring an action in a common pleas court and no person, on behalf of or representing nature or an ecosystem, shall bring an action in such court …”

Five years ago there was a massive bloom of algae in Lake Erie so dangerous that the people of Toledo were not able to drink or even touch their water for three days. In February the citizens of Toledo overwhelmingly passed LEBOR, which granted rights to Lake Erie and its entire ecosystem to exist, flourish and naturally evolve. This law empowers citizens to stand up for the lake when those rights are violated.

This would be the first-of-its-kind law to grant rights to an entire body of water and its ecosystem in the United States.

In a time when we are experiencing a climate crisis and the rate of extinction of species is accelerating, we can no longer see nature as just property and a resource, but something that has rights itself.

It is disturbing that the Ohio legislature chose a backward path rather than a vision forward on this issue. By just throwing money at the problem, as before, we will see more of the same. Also, the process of adding last-minute amendments to a budget, just to satisfy big-money interests, is as slimy as the toxic blue green algae Toledoans are trying to prevent.

Bill Lyons, Columbus