Read the statement issued by the governor’s office following Senate passage of legislation implementing the Great Lakes Compact, and the message is plain: John Kasich will sign the bill. He won’t repeat the responsible act of issuing a veto, returning lawmakers to the task of striking a better balance between economic development and sound stewardship of the Lake Erie basin.
The governor already has declared his satisfaction, the veto last summer resulting in an improved bill, especially in lowering the withdrawal threshold for setting in motion a permitting process. His statement salutes state Rep. Lynn Wachtmann, applauding the Napoleon Republican and bottling company owner for his “commitment to reaching a final agreement.”
All of this is too bad. The legislation falls short, and the concerns aren’t those of unbending environmental groups. Bob Taft, George Voinovich and former members of their Republican administrations have cited necessary yet missing improvements, especially in the area of protecting adequately tributaries of Lake Erie.
The legislation doesn’t provide a sufficient measure of protection. It settles for averaging withdrawals amounts, leaving the basin vulnerable to one huge grab for water. It unwisely limits appeals, eroding the principle of a public trust. Give credit to state Sen. Frank LaRose, an Akron Republican, who voted against passage. Count him among the large bipartisan majority, including scientists and anglers, who think Ohio should do better.