WEBINAR: Lake Erie’s “Pollution Diet” – New Phosphorus Pollution Limits are a Crucial Step Towards the Restoration of Lake Erie’s Western Basin

Watch the recording from the webinar below!

In May 2023, a federal judge in Ohio approved a consent decree that will require limits for agricultural pollution runoff to help alleviate the frequent toxic algae blooms that impact western Lake Erie almost every summer. The consent decree, which concludes six years of public interest litigation, requires the Ohio EPA to submit a plan known as Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL), or a “pollution diet”, to the US EPA by June 30, 2023, and then requires the U.S. EPA to approve, or reject the state’s TMDL as insufficient and develop a federal plan. The TMDL will specify the maximum amount of pollution the waterbody can tolerate, addressing all harmful nutrients sufficient to remedy the lake.

This is an important step towards restoring Lake Erie’s western basin, and a win for the residents who rely on its waters. The ruling is a result of the persistence of the Environmental Law & Policy Center (ELPC) and the Board of Lucas County (Ohio) Commissioners who brought the federal court litigation pressing the US EPA and Ohio EPA for accountability with cleaning up the lake.

In this special webinar, we heard from Environmental Law & Policy Center (ELPC) Executive Director, public interest attorney, and CGLR Board Member, Howard Learner who has been at the center of this litigation and who continues to stand committed to seeing a cleaner, healthier, and safer future for not only Lake Erie and its residents, but for all the Great Lakes. We learned about the history of this litigation and what the consent decree means in the days and years ahead.

Event Speaker:

Howard Learner, President and Executive Director, Environmental Law & Policy Center (ELPC)

Howard A. Learner is an experienced attorney who serves as ELPC’s President and Executive Director. He is responsible for ELPC’s overall strategic leadership, policy direction and financial platform. Mr. Learner served as the General Counsel for Business and Professional People for the Public Interest, specializing in environmental, energy, economic development and civil rights litigation and policy development.

He serves as Vice-Chair of the (Cook County) Forest Preserve Foundation. He was the founding Chair of the Illinois Citizens Utility Board and founding Chair of the Midwest Energy Efficiency Alliance. He served on the Executive Committee and Board of the Environmental Law Institute and as the Vice-Chair of the U.S. EPA’s National Advisory Council on Environmental Policy and Technologies.

Mr. Learner is an Adjunct Professor at Northwestern University Law School and the University of Michigan Law School, teaching advanced seminars in energy law and climate change policy.

Event Moderator:

Lora Shrake, Senior Program Director, Business and Sustainability, Council of the Great Lakes Region

Lora Shrake is the Senior Program Director, Business and Sustainability for the Council of the Great Lakes Region (CGLR), where she is working with a growing network of business leaders to connect across sustainability issues and support the advancement of cross-sector solutions. Some of the programmatic areas include circular economy, water stewardship, and climate change and decarbonization. Lora also facilitates CGLR’s monthly business and sustainability webinar series, providing a platform for knowledge sharing and amplifying regional best practice.

Lora’s career experience spans across non-profit operations, environmental program management, stakeholder engagement, strategy, and research. Prior to joining CGLR, Lora led a national green building council in the United Arab Emirates where she oversaw all aspects of the organization’s cross-functional development, including its impact and reach.

About ELPC: 

The Environmental Law & Policy Center (ELPC) is the Midwest’s leading environmental legal advocacy organization. The ELPC drives transformational policy changes with national impacts, showing that environmental progress and economic development can be achieved together by putting sustainability principles into practice. The ELPC advances climate solutions effectively by accelerating clean renewable energy alternatives to conventional power plants and advancing clean transportation solutions. They protect the Great Lakes and defend the Midwest’s wild and natural places, and they fight for safe, clean water and healthy clean air for all. The ELPC combines effective public interest litigation with strategic policy advocacy, sound science, and economic analysis; and they produce strong results for the environment in the courtrooms, boardrooms, and legislative hearing rooms across the pivotal Midwest states and in Washington D.C.

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