This week the Ohio Senate passed its version of the state’s biennial budget bill. This is the fourth step in the process and puts Ohio closer to a final outline for state expenditures over the next two years.
The following statement can be attributed in full, or in part, to Bill Stanley, Ohio State Director for The Nature Conservancy:
“Our state is blessed to have abundant water resources, rich farmland, and beautiful public parks and natural areas. Investments in our lands and waters bring immediate benefits to Ohioans and are down payments on a healthier, stronger future for our children and grandchildren.
We are grateful that the Senate retained robust funding for the H2Ohio program for the Ohio Department of Natural Resources and reinstated full funding for the Ohio Department of Agriculture; however, we are very disappointed to see the significant reduction in Ohio EPA funding, which was intended to help our most vulnerable rural and urban areas by replacing failing septic systems and lead drinking water service lines. Now is not the time to reduce the assistance desperately needed for these Ohioans.
This budget also includes some bad policy, specifically including a provision related to oil and gas leasing on public lands that says that the state is to promote, develop and produce oil and natural gas on state lands. This language removes the transparency from this process affecting our state lands. As our country moves forward to a lower-carbon economy, this would be a step backward for Ohio.
Investing in the long-term health and resiliency of our natural areas is good for wildlife, our physical and mental health, and the economy, producing wide-ranging benefits for all Ohioans. We thank the Senate for their positive investments in natural areas, wetlands, and agricultural management practices. And we strongly urge the House and Senate Conference Committee to address the mistakes in the Senate version by restoring H2Ohio funding for the Ohio EPA and removing the harmful oil and gas leasing provisions.”
The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world’s toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at an unprecedented scale, providing food and water sustainably and helping make cities more sustainable. Working in 76 countries and territories—37 by direct conservation impact and 39 through partners—we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit www.nature.org or follow @nature_press on Twitter.