NE Ohio Sierra Club Newsletter July/August

The Green New Deal: Addressing Climate Chaos

(with Millions of New Jobs in the Process)

This forum is an opportunity to learn about the background and key components of a Green New Deal and to share thoughts about its importance. This proposal has captured the imagination of thousands of young people across the country who are insisting climate change be a key focus of the 2020 elections.

Hosted by the Berea group of the Cuyahoga County Progressive Caucus and the Northeast Ohio Coalition for a Green New Deal.

WHEN: Tues, July 2, 2019 at 6:30pm – 8:30pm

WHERE: Cuyahoga County Public Library, Berea Branch, 7 Berea Commons, Berea 44017,Large Meeting Room.There is plenty of parking in front of the library. Walk into the front door and make an immediate right turn.

CONTACT: Berea · (440) 263 3256

Feel free to just drop by, the public is welcome. Please invite a guest.

Cuyahoga County Progressive Caucus website:


HB 6 Threatens Ohio Renewable Energy while Bailing Out Nuclear Plants with Subsidies from Ratepayers

By Charlie Mitch

The Ohio General Assembly is currently working on a new law, HB 6, that would be a significant setback to the development of renewable energy for Ohio. The proposed bill would eliminate state standards for renewable energy while also bailing out Ohio utilities using noncompetitive nuclear power. Instead of the serious deficiencies imposed by HB 6, Ohio needs a better energy policy focused on increasing investment in energy efficiency and sustainable clean energy from renewable sources such as solar and wind. HB 6 would make it harder to increase the amount of electricity produced by economically competitive low carbon emission sources in Ohio. A better energy policy for Ohio would also need to provide for a just transition to support workers and communities impacted by closure of uneconomical nuclear and coal fired power plants.

HB 6 was recently passed in the Ohio House of Representatives and votes in the Ohio Senate are expected by the end of June (but have not occurred at the time of this writing). Senator Matt Dolan, whose district covers much of the Cleveland suburbs, will be a key vote on HB 6 in the Senate Energy and Public Utilities Committee. Dolan recently told the Plain Dealer (June 21)that he is working on an alternative to HB 6 “that would not completely abolish Ohio’s energy efficiency and renewable-energy standards,” stating that his alternative “won’t undermine the development of alternative energy and clean energy in Ohio.” Details of his alternative legislation have yet to be disclosed, but will need careful scrutiny when released.

How did your State Representative vote on HB 6? The voting record for each of the Northeast Ohio representatives is listed below. Find your Representative or Senator here:

Phil Robinson                     District 6         voted No

Tom Patton                         District 7         voted Yes

Kent Smith                          District 8         voted No

Janine Boyd                        District 9         voted No

Terrence Upchurch             District 10       voted Yes

Stephanie Howse                District 11        voted No

Juanita Brent                      District 12       voted No

Mike Skindell                      District 13        voted No

Bride Rose Sweeney          District 14        voted No

Jeff Crossman                    District 15         voted No

Dave Greenspan                District 16         voted No

Casey Weinstein                District 37         voted No

Gayle Manning                   District 55        voted No

Joe Miller                            District 56        voted Yes

Dick Stein                            District 57        voted Yes

John Rogers                       District 60        voted Yes

Jamie Callender (Sponsor) District 61        voted Yes

Darrell Kick                          District 70        voted Yes

John Patterson                    District 99        voted Yes


You’re invited!

Outing at Put-In-Bay, Ohio

Saturday and Sunday, August 3-4, 2019

Sierra Club member Gabriela Kaplan will host up to 30 people at her cottage on the beach at Put-In-Bay, Ohio. There will be camping (bring tent and sleeping bag), swimming, bicycles, kayaking, music, bars, restaurants, Ohio State University Research Laboratory’s Fish Hatchery,South Bass Island State Park, Perry”s Victory and International Peace Monument, Lake Erie, and more.

Travel Details: Travel time is 1 hour 30 minutes from Downtown Cleveland (75 miles). Take I90 West and then Route 2 West to Port Clinton.

Then take the Jet Express from Port Clinton to Put-In-Bay (20 minute crossing).

Or take Miller Boat Line from Catawba, Route 53 North (20 minute crossing).

For more information and directions to Gabriela’s cottage contact Dennis Michael Plank at 216-939-8229 or

NE Ohio Sierra Club Newsletter May/June

Lights Out initiative seeing some success

Lights Out Cleveland initiative is a group of local organizations working together to create awareness of the effects brightly lit buildings have on nocturnally migrating birds. A recent review of published studies suggests that between 365 and 988 million birds are killed annually by striking buildings in the U.S.According to a recent article in Crain’s Cleveland Business, the efforts are seeing some success with downtown Cleveland building owners. Read the article here.

More on plastic bags

Our thanks to Shellie Sedlak and all the Cuyahoga County residents who responded to the call to action and asked their county council representative to support the proposed ban on plastic bags. Thanks also to Rick Hamilton and his research into the problems associated with our use of plastic bags:

“Plastic bags and other plastic materials continue to enter our inland rivers and lakes. The bags can be found county-wide – caught in tree limbs, loose on the streets, and ultimately headed to landfills.

Center for Biological Diversity Facts About Single-use Plastic Bags:

Americans use 100 billion plastic bags a year, which require 12 million barrels of oil to manufacture.

Manufacturing 14 plastic bags requires the equivalent of the gas needed to drive one mile.

Plastic bags are used for an average of 12 minutes.

The average American family takes home almost 1,500 plastic shopping bags a year.

According to Waste Management, only 1 percent of plastic bags are returned for recycling . That means that the average family only recycles 15 bags a year; the rest end up in landfills or as litter.When Ms. Simon’s and Mr. Miller’s legislation first appeared I contacted all of the local grocery chain headquarters to inquire about their recycling of plastic bags. Only one chain regularly recycles the bags. However, the production of plastics produces both ethylene and methane which are powerful greenhouse gases.

It takes 500 (or more) years for a plastic bag to degrade in a landfill. Unfortunately the bags don’t breakdown completely but instead photo-degrade, becoming micro plastics that absorb toxins and continue to pollute the environment.”

Rick Hamilton, Cleveland city resident

It’s not too late to add your voice in support of the plastic bag ban. Sierra Club endorsed council woman Sunny Simon, the sponsor of the bag bill. Call her at 216-698-2035 and the bill’s co-sponsor, Dale Miller, at 216-698-2011. Or contact your representative. A map of council districts can be found here.Click on your district to find contact information for your representative.


Upcoming Events

NEO Sierra Club X-Com and Conservation meeting – Monday, May 6, 2019, 7:00pm at the Brooklyn branch of the Cuyahoga County Library, 4480 Ridge Rd, Cleveland, OH 44144.

Green New Deal Town Hall – May 9, 2018, 6 pm – 8 pm, Lakewood Main Library, 15425 Detroit Ave,Lakewood. The first hour will be a presentation from the Sunrise Movement. The second hour will begin with speakers followed by open discussion. Sponsored by Sunrise, West Shore FACT, and Cuyahoga County Progressive Caucus. Information at

Conservation Conversions: Linda Butler’s Photographs, “Lake Erie on the Edge” – Thursday,May 16, 2019, 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm, West Wood Nature Center, 9465 Kinsman Road, Novelty 44072. Noted photographer, Linda Butler will present and discuss her work on Lake Erie’s beauty and challenges. Free and open to the public. Light Refreshments. Sponsored by Protect Geauga Parks .

Tree Hugging 101: Better Tree Planting – Saturday, May 18, 2019, 9:30 am – Noon, TriC, Eastern Campus, Cleveland 44122. Learn how to plant a tree correctly. Free native trees given to participants.

Rain Garden Workshop – Tuesday, May 28, 2019, 6:00 PM to 7:30 PM, Parma-Snow Branch of Cuyahoga County Public Library, 2121 Snow Rd, Parma 44134. Sponsored by West Creek Conservancy

April 2019 Newsletter

Are we approaching the next Silent Spring?

Rachel Carson raised the red flag years ago. Pesticides were not only killing insects, but also disrupting the delicate balance of nature. Now history is repeating itself. To commemorate Earth Day 2019, the Northeast Ohio Sierra Club extends an invitation to attend the enlightening program, “Next Silent Spring?” This free event will be held at the Cleveland Museum of Art Recital Hall on Sunday, April 28, from 2 – 4 PM. Laurel Hopwood, Senior Advisor to Sierra Club’s Pollinator Protection Program, will show the outstanding documentary “Nicotine Bees.” Pollinator populations are declining. How does this affect our food supply? How does this affect our entire ecosystem?
 A panel of experts will discuss how everyone can help move things forward:

* Dr. Mary Gardiner, Associate Professor in the OSU Department of Entomology, and her graduate students have been introducing pollinator pockets throughout vacant lots in Cleveland.

* Tom Gibson, principal of Green Paradigm Partners, uses his soil building and community organizing skills to help revive neighborhoods.

* Elle Adams, founder of City Rising Farm, helps people in underserved communities learn to grow fresh local food and create opportunities in their own neighborhoods. For more info, please contact Laurel at

Film Festival underway

The 43nd Cleveland International Film Festival (CIFF) continues through April 7at Tower City Cinemas and NEO Sierra Club is again a proud community partner with the festival. We are a partner for the documentary entitled, Right to Harm, which examines the environmental harm done by factory farming and the use of concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs). The film informs us about how animal waste from CAFOs has affected adjacent communities and we learn how citizens have organized to force government officials to regulate CAFOs. The film has direct relevance to Ohio as we struggle to limit the amount of animal waste and fertilizer that enter into Lake Erie. For screening times and ticket information, go to Use the codeword “SIERRA” to receive a $1 discount on tickets.

Curb Plastic Bag Campaign Update

Cuyahoga County has a bill to curb and/or ban plastic bag distribution in stores over a certain size. In 1 and ½ years, the bill has not been moved to a vote. Now that recycling has been closed on us by China and landfill machinery gets clogged by plastics, we have nowhere to go but to slow the pace of plastic production. Sierra Club endorsed councilwoman Sunny Simon, the sponsor of the bag bill. Call her at 216-698-2035 and the bill’s co-sponsor, Dale Miller, at 216-698-2011. Tell them you want the bill brought before the Council NOW.

Our Legislature and the Environment

by Michael Melampy

On March 19 I participated in a Meet Your Legislator day organized by the Buckeye Environmental Council. The event gave citizens an opportunity to discuss environmental legislation with their state representatives and senators. The focus of discussion was that increases penalties for protesters who happen to trespass on oil company property and a new proposal to allow brine from oil and gas wells to be sold as a road deicer. SB 33 not only imposes new penalties on individuals but would allow oil companies to seek damages against any organization that might sponsor a protest in which trespassing occurs. There are already laws in place to deal with trespassing, so the new law seems redundant. However, the oil companies are trying to redefine the bill as a measure to protect “critical infrastructure” which might be threatened by protesters. The definition of critical infrastructure is extremely broad, making it very easy for the companies to claim damages and go after environmental organizations. The specificity of the bill in mentioning protests on oil company property makes it clear that the intent is to ensure smooth sailing for fracking in Ohio. As Sierra Club members, we need to redouble our efforts to oppose this legislation and the entire fracking industry.

The brine initiative is something that has flown under the media radar so far. The problem with brine is that it contains more than water and salt. It also contains a variety of toxic heavy metals, some of which are radioactive. Brine is already used is some parts of the state for deicing and tests of that brine have indicated radioactivity levels that exceed safety standards established by the EPA. We need to be vigilant and actively oppose any bill that is actually produced to allow the sale of brine.

Finally, we discussed the gas tax issue with our legislators and urged them to support Governor DeWine’s proposed 18 cent tax increase. It was extremely disappointing to learn that the Senate passed such a small (only 6 cents) increase in the tax. The small increase coupled with provisions to tax hybrid and plug-in cars negate any environmental benefit that DeWine’s proposed increase would have had. While Republican legislators cited concerns about the regressive nature of the tax, where was that concern when they were cutting the state income tax in a manner that benefited the wealthy? The admittedly regressive nature of a gas tax could easily be offset by redressing the income tax cuts to make them fairer for low income people.

The legislature remains firmly controlled by the oil and gas lobby making it imperative that we work harder to change its composition. There was very little change in 2018 but there were hopeful signs. Phil Robinson, a pro-environment candidate, won a house seat in a district previously controlled by Republicans, and Casimir Svigeli came close in his attempt to win a west side house seat. With a little more assistance from Sierra Club and other environmental organizations, we might get candidates like Svigeli over the hump.

NEO Sierra Club must become a more effective political organization. While we endorse candidates, we are not mobilizing our membership to volunteer for candidates and help them with canvassing and other campaign activities. In 2020, we need to identify pro-environment candidates for the Ohio legislature and focus our volunteer efforts on helping them mount rallies and gain access to the public and the media. Donating money to campaigns will help but we need to go beyond that and volunteer. Focusing volunteer efforts on candidates who might win could have a real impact on the legislature and raise Sierra Club’s profile as a political force to be reckoned with. We can’t dawdle any longer. Remember, the gives us only 12 years to avert real climate disaster.


#trashtag Trend Gets Traction in

Cuyahoga County with Help from Cuyahoga Recycles

Are you part of the #trashtag Challenge – the global movement that went viral on social media earlier this month? People all over the world are participating by cleaning up litter and posting before and after pictures on social media with the hashtag #trashtag.

Cuyahoga Recycles offers supplies and support to organizations and schools that want to get involved in environmental clean-up efforts.

Clean Up Cuyahoga kits include recycling bags, garbage bags, cloth gloves, car litter bags, seed packets, educational materials and promotional items. Groups and schools can request kits for up to 30 participants. Any adult representative of a school or youth group may request a clean-up kit by completing this short form.

Cuyahoga Recycles can also loan additional supplies like large shovels, garden shovels, litter pick-up tools, safety vests and additional garden gloves for large groups or group plantings.


Upcoming Events

How Things Work at the StatehouseThursday, April 4, 2019, 6:30pm, Strongsville Library, Classroom B, 18700 Westwood Drive, Strongsville. Learn how you can have an impact on legislation in Columbus. Registration at 6:30pm, class starts at 7. Sponsored by the Ohio Democratic Party and Cleveland Indivisible. Free and open to the public.

Sustainable CLEVELAND Spring MeetingWednesday, April 10, 2019, 5:30pm8:00pm, Great Lakes Brewing Company Tasting Room. Connect with Cuyahoga 50 to help celebrate the Environmental Movement sparked by the Burning Cuyahoga River. Free and open to the public, but get tickets. Information at: .

Climate Action House Party with Author/Activist Ed FallonThursday, April 11, 2019, 6pm9pm, , Cleveland 44113. Ed Fallon is a former Iowa lawmaker, current director of Bold Iowa, and organizer of the Great Climate March in 2014. He will talk about the March and his book about it will be available for purchase. Join us for an evening of great company and stories. .

✻ Are We Heading Towards the Next Silent Spring?Sunday, April 28, 2019, 2pm4pm. Rachel Carson raised the red flag years ago. Pesticides were not only killing insects, but also disrupting the delicate balance of nature. Now history is repeating itself. To commemorate Earth Day 2019, the Northeast Ohio Sierra Club extends an invitation to attend the enlightening program, “Next Silent Spring?” This free event will be held at the Cleveland Museum of Art Recital Hall .