State Representative Randy Gardner today urged state leaders to adopt a “Marshall Plan for Lake Erie,” calling a healthy Lake Erie “critically important to our environment and for jobs and our economy.”
Gardner, a former history teacher, made the analogy of the kind of bipartisan intensity establishing the Marshall Plan — U.S. aid to post-World War II Europe — to what is needed to restore a healthy Lake Erie from growing problems associated with widespread algae.
“The potential magnitude of this crisis cannot be understated,” said Gardner in a letter to Gov. John Kasich and legislative leaders. “We must engage in this fight with a sense of urgency equal to the value Lake Erie holds for Ohio and America.”
Gardner co-hosted a legislative hearing on the health of Lake Erie in December with Rep. Dennis Murray. At the hearing, Murray, Gardner and House Agriculture and Natural Resources Chairman Dave Hall recognized Kasich for his concern and support for Lake Erie and called for strong action.
“I’m not sure there is any challenge facing Ohio that can yield greater bipartisan teamwork than protecting and healing Lake Erie,” Gardner said. “It will take our best efforts to be successful.”
Gardner said all those with concerns and ideas must be included in the solution, including agriculture, wildlife advocates, local government officials, legislators, the travel and tourism industry, small business owners, state agency leaders and others.
While some have identified agricultural runoff as a key issue, Gardner said municipal waste problems and violations at waste plants in Detroit contribute to polluting Lake Erie. He said legislation may be necessary to push solutions in addition to effectively utilizing federal and state funds to reduce phosphorus levels and nutrient loading that help contribute to an explosion of algal blooms in the lake.