On Wednesday, March 8, a small group of SLGC members met with Senator Rob Portman’s NE Ohio Director in downtown Cleveland. Jane Ellison, former Zone X Conservation Chair, led us in a lively discussion about conservation and the environment with Caryn Candisky. Senator Portman has shown strong leadership in conservation and environmental issues, most notably clean water and our National Parks. Caryn very patiently listened to us for 1½ hours as we presented topics from The Garden Club of America's Position Papers.
Caryn, whose area of expertise is clean water and the dredging of the Cuyahoga River, listened and took two pages of notes. She complimented us on how well-organized and informed we were on the issues, saying she had not met with a group as well prepared as we were for a long time. In our conversation we requested Senator Portman work to maintain and fully fund the environmental regulations currently in place, emphasizing the economic importance of healthy ecosystems. We presented our positions (i.e. GCA’s positions) on clean water (maintaining funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, GLRI), clean air (continued support for the Clean Power Plan, CPP), invasive species (rejecting legislation that would allow ballast water from foreign ships to be dumped into the Great Lakes* and funding for Asian Carp barriers). We discussed our worries about crude oil transportation over the lakes, the release of methane gas from fracking and the pollution from burning coal (which allows mercury to enter our waters, poisoning the fish, and us if we eat it more than once a month!). We touched on sustainable agriculture and the control of nitrogen and phosphorous run-off to prevent harmful algal blooms. We also talked about the importance of preserving our National Public Lands and National Parks, most notably Wayne National Forest and Cuyahoga Valley National Park. We agreed that the Great Lakes are the world’s largest body of fresh water and they merit our careful conservation efforts to keep them clean. It was a very productive and amicable meeting. We sincerely appreciated all the time Caryn spent with us.
I urge you to visit the gcamerica.org website. If you log into the “Members” area (upper left corner), then click on “Committees”, scroll down to “NAL”, you will find our position papers. They are 1 page descriptions of what our garden club supports in regards to conservation and the environment. The Garden Club of America works to promote greater understanding of the interdependence of horticulture, environmental protection, and community improvement. We definitely contributed to that effort March 8!
*Commercial Vessel Incidental Discharge Act, CVIDA
The bills — The Regulatory Accountability Act, the REINS Act and the Midnight Rules Relief Act — have already been pushed through the U.S. House of Representatives. Together, they would greatly diminish our environmental laws and safeguards. If they pass in the U.S. Senate and become law, they'll make it harder for federal agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency, the Food and Drug Administration and others — agencies already bracing for drastic budget cuts — to enforce the laws that keep our environment clean, protect our health and reduce climate pollution.