On February 26, 2019, Toledo Ohio voters approved a charter amendment giving Lake Erie its own Bill of Rights or LEBOR. The measure establishes rights within the City’s charter for the Lake Erie Ecosystem to “exist, flourish, and naturally evolve” as well as rights to self-government and a clean and healthy environment for Toledo and its citizens. The amendment, put forth by the Toledoans for Safe Water, would allow city residents to sue to protect the lake regardless of existing federal and state laws or permits in defense of the violations.
This particular movement began back in August of 2014, with a massive harmful algal bloom of cyanobacteria within the Western Basin of Lake Erie. The 2014 event forced the shutdown of the City’s potable water system and cost millions of dollars in lost revenue alone.
Not unexpectedly, the day after the LEBOR passed, a lawsuit was filed stating that the amendment is unconstitutional and violates state laws. One can only imagine the legal debates and law school writing assignments this amendment will generate. Who knows…the fact that we are talking about the Lake Erie harmful algal bloom and its impact may have been the goal of the LEBOR all along?
Published in Cox-Colvin’s April 2019 Focus on the Environment newsletter.
Lindsay Johnson is an Engineer with Cox-Colvin & Associates, Inc. and has been an employee since September 2017. She received a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from Ohio University in 2016. She previously worked in Little Rock, Arkansas as a permit writer for the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality where she grew a passion for the environmental field. She is thrilled to be a part of Cox-Colvin & Associates, Inc. and hopes to bring a regulatory perspective to the team.