Q & A: Why is Lake Erie’s algae bloom growing again?

GIBRALTAR ISLAND, Ohio  — Four years ago, Lake Erie algae wreaked havoc on the Toledo water system, affecting 400,000 residents in Ohio and Southeast Michigan. Known as harmful algal blooms, the deep green ooze grows by the mile each year, fed by phosphorus-rich runoff from farm fields. Though not always toxic, the eyesores gunk up beaches, choke marine life, and became far more serious in August 2014. That’s when Toledo’s water system sucked up cyanobacteria (known as blue-green algae, though it’s technically not algae) and contaminated drinking water with microcystin, a toxin that can cause liver and kidney damage. The scare prompted residents to rely on bottled water for three days and cost about $65 million, mostly in lost tax revenue and tourism.

Ohio Attorney General faces legal action after Eye on Ohio story

Columbus— A new complaint before the Ohio Elections Commission alleges that the Ohio Attorney General’s practice of hiring debt subcontractors violates state law. J. Whitfield Larrabee, a left-leaning activist, filed the complaint Thursday, citing a recent article by the Ohio Center for Investigative Journalism as exhibit A. The article noted that under current Republican Attorney General Mike DeWine, and his Democratic predecessor Richard Cordray, large campaign contributors were much more likely to get large collections contracts. Both DeWine and Cordray are currently running for governor. Larrabee alleged, in his 27-page brief, that “DeWine’s scheme to economically coerce contractors to make campaign contributions amounts to extortion, fraud and racketeering in violation of Ohio and federal law.”

DeWine’s campaign spokesman, Joshua Eck, said in response: “This is nothing more than political grandstanding by a Massachusetts liberal. This complaint is frivolous and will go nowhere.”

Larrabee practices employment and health law from his suburban Boston office.

Where did ~$250 million go? Rate hike funds still unaccounted for in FirstEnergy Bankruptcy

Ohio ratepayers have paid FirstEnergy’s utilities roughly a quarter of a billion dollars since January 2017 under a distribution modernization rider. Now, critics say FirstEnergy is stalling on saying just what it’s doing with that money, which regulators approved without any requirements that it pay for specific projects. The mandate for consumers to pay the rider is currently on appeal before the Supreme Court of Ohio. Meanwhile, FirstEnergy’s utilities have been collecting the $168 million per year, and regulators could renew the charge for another two years after 2019. “To date, FirstEnergy has stymied the efforts of the state-designated advocate of its consumers to discover information about its subsidy charges,” Ohio Consumers’ Counsel Bruce Weston and assistant counsel Zachary Woltz said in a July 13 brief.