As Ohio Governor Mike DeWine prepares to give his first State of the State Address from the Ohio Statehouse, we are optimistic that the new administration will put forward comprehensive plans to protect our public lands, Ohio’s waterways, and the air we breathe for future generations.
Governor DeWine has named several highly qualified people to important posts in his administration, including selecting the most diverse cabinet in Ohio’s history. It’s important for this administration to represent the diversity of Ohio, giving a voice to those who have been voiceless in the past.
In Ohio, we have real work to do. Recent studies have shown that we only have about twelve years to avert the worst impacts of climate change. We’ve taken that news to heart.
At the federal level, a divided government has kept politicians from both parties from agreeing on policies that would protect our air, land, water, and democracy. Despite roadblocks of the federal government, we have ample opportunity in Ohio to move in the right direction of addressing climate change.
In the last year, there have been several big opportunities to grow Ohio’s public lands, including the purchase of part of the AEP ReCreation Lands that resulted in the creation of Jesse Owens State Park.
But, the potential here is even greater. The state has a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to purchase tens of thousands of additional acres of the AEP lands and increase our public lands by nearly 10 percent. We can’t miss this chance.
While this past summer was milder than in the past, toxic algae remains a huge problem for Lake Erie and surrounding waterways. We need Ohio to take swift and far-reaching action to solve the issue once and for all, and bring stakeholders from every side of the issue to the table as we roll out a solution.
We are also still waiting on a bill to pass the legislature that will free up Ohio to wind development, putting renewable energy back on track, leading to hundreds of jobs, and income for landowners and communities.
Wind development is currently stalled in Ohio due to an unnecessary regulation which essentially keeps new projects from being developed. We could soon be left behind in the clean energy era if this doesn’t get fixed.
Last May, voters overwhelmingly chose to fix our gerrymandered congressional districts by amending the state’s constitution to create a more fair system of drawing maps. Now we must focus on ensuring that all citizens of Ohio can easily cast their ballots by making voter registration easier and more accessible.
As communities across this state prepare for the great census count of 2020, we must work hand in hand with our state and local elected leaders to make sure that all people who live in this state are counted.
Importantly, we also have a real opportunity to make change at the local level. Last year, Cincinnati and Columbus were selected as winners of the Bloomberg American Cities Climate Challenge. This award will give these cities needed funds to tackle climate change and promote a sustainable future for residents.
Communities across the state are working to find solutions to the climate crisis, and we’re eager to help them find the path to a more sustainable future.
While the state of the environment in Ohio is at this point uncertain, I hope that the promising start to Governor DeWine’s administration will lead to a positive direction for our air, land, water, and most importantly our climate.
With just over a decade to get things in check, we don’t have time to waste.