On June 21, Ohio lawmakers passed legislation, S.B.2, that will further protect Lake Erie and drinking water sources, provide community and business assistance, and streamline government. The bill directs the Ohio Lake Erie Commission (OLEC) to serve as the catalyst through which Ohio will meet its commitments to reduce phosphorus in Lake Erie’s Western Basin by 40 percent by 2025. Additionally, S.B.2 directs OLEC to identify and support programs that enable the beneficial use of dredged materials and provides a regulatory framework that will allow the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (Ohio EPA) to identify when dredged material is not considered “waste” so it can be beneficially used.
Also, Governor John Kasich on June 30 signed the final biennial state budget bill of his administration. The bill contained a wide range of both fiscal and policy changes to Ohio’s Revised Code. Some important policy initiatives for Ohio EPA were included in the bill:
- Provides a process to outline, review, and approve current and future Total Maximum Daily Loads;
- Consolidates existing technical, compliance, and financial assistance programs within Ohio EPA;
- Transfers asbestos certification from the Ohio Department of Health to Ohio EPA: creates a “one-stop shop” for contractors/operators/citizens; reduces onsite inspections from two state agencies to one; consolidates state field workers and staff to eliminate duplication and conflicts; and improves asbestos compliance and enforcement; and
- Provides authority to waive or reduce late payment penalties and environmental fees.