Ohioans support action to preserve Great Lakes, poll finds

Three environmental groups commissioned poll
Tom Jackson
Jun 27, 2014

 

jackson@sanduskyregister.com

A bipartisan majority of Ohioans supports stronger rules to curb runoff pollution from farms that's believed to contribute to harmful algal blooms, according to a new poll released Thursday.

The Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition, National Wildlife Federation and the Ohio Environmental Council paid for the poll, carried out by Fallon Research and Communications of Columbus.

“Our polling indicates that protecting Lake Erie and the other Great Lakes unites Republicans, Democrats and independents," said Paul Fallon, the company's president. "Ohioans across the political spectrum support state and federal policies that keep waterways clean.”

"We just wanted to take the pulse of Ohio citizens," National Wildlife Federation spokesman Jordan Lubetkin said. "As the summer approaches, it's the time when people are out on the lakes. This would be a good time to get an assessment of what their attitude is on these issues."

The Kasich administration has launched a number of efforts to try to curb the runoff of nutrients from farm fields that are considered the main reason for harmful algal blooms in Lake Erie. 

Efforts have focused mostly so far on voluntary efforts and on education, but the poll suggests that the public would suggest stronger rules.

The polls showed that 66 percent of Ohio voters support "stronger regulations to prevent run-off pollution from farms that ends up in the state’s rivers and streams.” That includes 51 percent of Republicans, 75 percent of Democrats and 72 percent of independents.

Other poll findings:

• The federal Clean Water Act should cover wetlands and small streams, according to 62 percent of the respondents.

• More than three in four Ohioans, 76 percent, believe the federal government should spend $300 million a year to restore the Great Lakes. (That's the figure sought by environmentalists supporting funding in Congress for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.)

• Nearly half of Ohio voters, 46 percent, have heard of the Asian carp. (Obviously, another way of putting it is that most Ohioans have never heard of the fish, despite years of publicity about the threat it poses to Lake Erie.) Nine out of ten voters expressed concern when it was explained that it's an invasive species that threatens the Great Lakes.