August 21, 2014

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Petitioners seek Sen. Sherrod Brown’s intervention in emissions battle

Mark Thompson, of Lorain, signs a petition for Environmental Ohio, non-profit, with his daughter, Lindsey, 13, and Alyssa Cowling, of Lorain and Environmental Ohio, before the Lorain High School football game.  KRISTIN BAUER | CHRONICLE

Mark Thompson, of Lorain, signs a petition for Environmental Ohio, non-profit, with his daughter, Lindsey, 13, and Alyssa Cowling, of Lorain and Environmental Ohio, before the Lorain High School football game. KRISTIN BAUER | CHRONICLE

It’s not like the fate of the Earth is at stake. Actually, it is.

In an effort to halt global warming, Environment Ohio, a nonprofit environmental activist group, is waging an uphill battle to limit power plant pollution by gathering petition signatures and supporters in Lorain County.

The group began collecting signatures in early September on a petition, which it plans to present to U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Cleveland, asking him to lobby the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to lobby for stricter standards for existing coal-fired power plants. The group is seeking 2,000 signatures by Dec. 6 and is also doing a letter-writing drive.

Petition drives are also occurring in Athens, Cincinnati and Cleveland, according to Gus Fugitt, an Environment Ohio organizer overseeing the Lorain County campaign. Fugitt said Brown has a good environmental record, but petitions will give Brown more leverage against the coal and gas industry, which is spending millions fighting stricter regulation through advertising, political lobbying and lawsuits. The Supreme Court on Tuesday agreed to hear a challenge to EPA regulation of greenhouse gases.

“It is a very controversial issue,” Fugitt said during Oct. 4 petitioning outside George Daniel Field in Lorain before a Lorain High School football game. “There’s a lot at stake.”

Fugitt, a 22-year-old organizer from Madison, Wis., and recent college graduate, said he’s recruited about 30 volunteers to help in the drive.
They include Alyssa Cowlings, a 24-year-old Lorain resident and mother of a 3-year-old son and 4-year-old daughter. Cowlings said deadly weather like last year’s superstorm Sandy are proof of the effects of global warming if it goes unchecked.

“I want the world to be a better place,” Cowlings said. “Anything I can do to help and protect my children for the future is good.”

The petition drive comes in the wake of a damning new report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The organization, founded in 1988 by the United Nations and World Meteorological Organization, is the foremost expert on global warming, also known as climate change.

The coal-fired power plant in Avon Lake, formerly run by Genon, was Lorain County's biggest greenhouse gas polluter in 2010, according to the EPA. CHRONICLE FILE PHOTO

The coal-fired power plant in Avon Lake, formerly run by Genon, was Lorain County’s biggest greenhouse gas polluter in 2010, according to the EPA. CHRONICLE FILE PHOTO

The Sept. 27 report found evidence of global warming was “unequivocal” and changes since the 1950s are “unprecedented.” Each of the last three decades has been successively warmer than any previous decade since 1850, and 1983-2012 was the warmest 30-year period in 1,400 years.

The report found melting glaciers in Antarctica and Greenland and rising sea levels and said carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide have reached levels unprecedented in the last 800,000 years. It said human influence was “extremely likely” to have been the “dominant” cause of warming since the mid-20th century.

Coal-fired plants are one of the major sources of carbon and an Environment Ohio report found Ohio has the second-most polluting plants in the nation. The former Genon power plant in Avon Lake was the biggest greenhouse gas polluter — most of it carbon dioxide — in Lorain County in 2010, according to the EPA.

The plant, which was to close due to proposed stricter emissions standards, was bought by NRG Energy, which is retrofitting it to burn natural gas. NRG said in June that the switch would allow it to meet stricter standards.

A 2012 study by the liberal Economic Policy Institute, a Washington D.C. think tank, projected stricter standards would actually create a net gain of 107,000 new jobs primarily due to investments in cleaner technology and pollution abatement. However, stricter standards create fear of lost jobs. Avon Lake and Avon Lake Schools officials complained about lost jobs and tax revenue when the Genon plant was slated to close, and the issue of jobs versus stricter standards was broached during the 2012 presidential campaign.

Steve Cawthon, one of those signing a petition Oct. 4, acknowledged the environment/economic debate. Cawthon, a 44-year-old Amherst resident and Lorain High School social studies teacher, said he opposes a “tree hugger mentality” that doesn’t factor in whether jobs will be lost to stricter environmental regulations. However, Cawthon said he worries about the world his 19-year-old and 10-year-old daughters will inherit if climate change isn’t reversed.

“It kind of bothers me that some of the politicians today kind of fluff it off as not even something that should be considered,” Cawthon said. “It’s definitely something that has to be on the table, and if it’s not, we’re burying our head in the sand.”

Albert Williams, a 63-year-old Lorain resident and welder, also signed a petition Oct. 4. Williams said technology allowing plants to burn cleaner and renewable energies like solar and wind should create jobs offsetting those lost from the closing of dirty plants. Williams said he supports stricter environmental regulation to arrest climate change.

“Something’s got to be done. The polar (ice) cap is decreasing. The animals are going through stress, and we’re going through stress,” he said. “Climate change is really bad and it’s getting worse.”

Besides helping gather signatures, Environment Ohio is also recruiting volunteers to push for environmental issues after the drive concludes.
Fugitt said he’s heard a lot of concerns from petition signers and volunteers about the pollution in the Black River and Lake Erie.

“People really do care about this stuff and are anxious to do something about it, but they haven’t had a chance until now,” he said. “The sky is the limit. It’s just the will of the volunteers and the leadership that gets put in place this fall.”

Contact Evan Goodenow at 329-7129 or egoodenow@chroniclet.com.

  • Peter Aldrich

    Wasting their time against a nonexistent issue. Put your time/efforts into something real….like feeding the hungry, helping the homeless. Global warming is as real as Al Gore inventing the internet…..

  • Larry Crnobrnja

    It was sub 50 this morning in South Carolina; global warming my butt. Sign my name to this petition. And the one for propping up the sky.

  • LookBackTwo

    If people, including Al Gore would just stop procreating driving cars, heating, cooling, and lighting their homes, and stop going to work, and quit exhaling we wouldn’t have global climate change.

  • Mark B

    If you want your light and heat bill to increase sign the petition. Global warming is a hoax just like the comming of the next ice age in the 70′s. Then it was the O-Zone Layer and the sun was going to burn us all up. Then it was Acid rain was going to melt our skin off. Now it is Global warming which is just another way for the goverment to get richer as we get poorer and they take more control of our lives. The media shold be ashamed for promoting this crap.

  • stargazer2012

    Apparently these people are not paying attention to the news! The Brits found hundreds of letters, emails and scientific research that was fraudulent, bogus out of University of East Anglia in England, where this story of global warming was originally concocted! It’s a hoax people! Just another way to ‘control’ the people like obamacare!

    • Pablo Jones

      Or that there has been unprecedented arctic ice growth so far this season, and that for the last several years the antarctic ice levels have been growing.

  • CharlesMartel732

    Enviro-fascist watermelons. Green on the outside, red on the inside.

  • Pablo Jones

    “Cowlings said deadly weather like last year’s superstorm Sandy are proof of the effects of global warming if it goes unchecked.”
    Superstorm? That is media hype, it was a hurricane what do you expect from a hurricane, fluffy clouds and sunshine? And it was barely a class 1 hurricane. The only reason it caused so much damage was because it hit one of the most densely populated areas in the country. A class 5 tornado in farmers field does very little damage but a class 1 tornado going through a town will do a lot more, that doesn’t qualify it as a super tornado.

    ““unequivocal” and changes since the 1950s are “unprecedented.” Each of
    the last three decades has been successively warmer than any previous
    decade since 1850, and 1983-2012 was the warmest 30-year period in 1,400
    years.”

    Half truths and half lies. Has the Earth gotten warm over the last 100 years? Yes. But is that tied to man made CO2? No. The majority of the Earth’s warming occurred during the first half of the 1900′s, when “Man made CO2″ was a fraction of what it is today. In the 1930′s there were record setting temps, but during the great depression global CO2 levels were cut my more than 1/3. Then during the 50′s – 70′s industrialization and the auto boom took off in the US and around the world, but temps remained stable. If “Man made CO2″ causes temperatures to increase why weren’t they increasing them. Even in the last 15 years when “man made CO2″ is at the highest level ever there has been no increase in temp. Then add in the fact that the only true global temps have only been available over the last 40 years with satellites. But we are going to base global warming on the temperature records from very few people around the wold using paper logs and equipment that isn’t even as closely accurate as todays equipment.

    The Earth’s temperature goes in natural cycles. Think of temperatures over the course of a year it gets hot in the summer cold in the winter and then repeats. The Earth goes through a similar cycle on a much larger scale that lasts hundreds of years. The problem is we only started measuring it near the low point. The equivalent would be tracking temperatures in January in the 20s and seeing that they keep rising through July in the 90s. Then based on that information you would assume that next January the temps will be over 120 degrees.

    The affect on mankind would be much better off with a 1-2 degree increase in temps than a 1-2 degree decrease. Colder whether would mean burning more fossil fuels, shorter growing seasons, less food, more human deaths and sickness. Warmer temps mean longer growing seasons, more food, less fuel use, healthier people.

  • Pablo Jones

    “However,
    Cawthon said he worries about the world his 19-year-old and 10-year-old
    daughters will inherit if climate change isn’t reversed.”

    Well let me ease your mind. If their predictions are true about what will happen if nothing is done by the time your daughters are in their 90′s: The Earth will be 1.5 degrees warmer. There will be more land available to grow crops resulting in an abundant supply of food. It will still be freezing at the North and South Pole. The great lakes will still be where they are. Florida will still be where it is.

    Seriously, do you worry about your daughters during the summer? bAre you afraid to let them go outside when it warms up? Do you currently put sun block on them when the go outside now? The groundwork for skin cancer starts when they are young, if you haven’t been putting sun block on them there is a real increase in the chance of skin cancer for them where they won’t live to be in their 90s. Worry about real threats and not made up ones that if truly happened wouldn’t cause any real problems.

  • Pablo Jones

    Over the last 10 years when natural gas prices rose, many people switched to coal and wood burning stoves to heat their homes. Those produce more CO2 and pollution than a power plant. The push to make fossil fuels more expensive may result in more pollution. I guess good intentions out weigh reality.

  • Phil Blank

    Ocean Rise?

    Someone must have read Pearls before swine in the Sunday comics yesterday.
    http://www.gocomics.com/pearlsbeforeswine#.UmQcFFOzKgA

  • Phil Blank

    June 28th, 2013 Newnet5 and also in The Patch and other local media:
    “Avon Lake power plant to switch from coal to natural gas”

    • Jacqui Adkins

      They are switching, that is why this petition is pointless!!

  • Don Grantzki

    Ahhh, to be young, again! These starry eyed reactionaries should take a look around at all the wind driven turbines the sooth-Sayers foisted off on their fellow activists that move not one hour in a week simply because the global warming’s terrible storms don’t provide enough air movement to generate the power to light even one 14 watt eco bulb. I hope these reactionaries are prepared for the future of not having enough energy provided by the greenies to keep them warm or their huts lit. The rest of us will be burning anything and everything available to keep from freezing to death.

  • Mark B

    “Cawthon said he worries about the world his 19-year-old and 10-year-old
    daughters will inherit if climate change isn’t reversed.”"

    His concern would be better spent worring about the amount of debt his daughters will encounter because of the fake global warming hoax and the current presidential spending addiction.

  • Den724

    You tube george carlin climate change and listen to this.

  • alreadyfedup1

    Are you kidding me! Herord Brown doesn’t need any petitions he is already on board to KILL the coal fire power plants. Look at the Avon plant is a “dead man walking”. Wait till your electric bills go through the roof.