Here is When and Where You Can Weigh in on ORSANCO's Ohio River Pollution Control Standards

The commission that sets pollution control standards for an eight-state region along the Ohio River is taking public input on a plan that would allow states to opt out of those regulations.

click to enlarge The Ohio River - Nick Swartsell
Nick Swartsell
The Ohio River

The eight-state commission that oversees water quality standards for the Ohio River will hold three public meetings and two webinars to take more public comment on proposed changes to its regulatory role.

Last summer, the Ohio River Sanitation Commission's board announced it was mulling options for rolling back its regulatory role, including stepping back entirely from standards it sets for emissions into the river by roughly 600 permitted companies and other bodies. But last month, the board said it has shelved past proposals for changes to the ways it regulates the river and today voted to take public input on a new plan.

The board's new plan would keep the commission's current pollution standards, more or less, but would allow states to deviate from them if they chose to do so.

The public can learn more about the proposal and weigh in on those changes via three public hearings at the times and locations below, and via two webinars March 12 at 10 a.m. and March 14 at 6 p.m.

Some members of the board have said that with federal and state guidelines, ORSANCO's standards are redundant. But a minority of commissioners and many environmental advocates say that isn't true, especially in an era where the Trump administration is rolling back pollution regulations. They say the commission shouldn't walk away from the power it has to set pollution controls, especially in 188 instances the board minority has identified in which ORSANCO regulations go above and beyond state restrictions on pollution.

Many attendees at a Feb. 14 meeting in Covington stressed how important they feel pollution controls — and ORSANCO — are for the river, which supplies drinking water for more than 5 million people along a 1,000-mile stretch through Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Virginia and New York.

ORSANCO has scheduled three public hearings on the rule changes:

Pittsburgh, Monday, April 1, from 6-8 p.m. DoubleTree by Hilton Pittsburgh 500 Mansfield Avenue Pittsburgh, PA 15205

Evansville, Thursday, April 4, from 6-8 p.m. Tropicana Evansville 421 NW Riverside Drive Evansville, IN 47708

Cincinnati, Monday, April 8, from 6-8 p.m. Holiday Inn Cincinnati Airport1717 Airport Exchange Boulevard Erlanger, KY 41018

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