Poll finds support for tougher farm runoff rules to cut algal blooms, widespread concern over Asian carp

COLUMBUS, Ohio — A majority of Ohio voters expressed support for tougher regulations to curb farm runoff pollution into rivers and streams and to apply the protections of the Clean Water Act to wetland areas, a poll…released on Thursday found.

The poll also found that nearly half of Ohio voters already had some knowledge of Asian carp and that more than nine in 10 expressed concern over the spread of the species into the Great Lakes.

Fallon Research & Communications of Columbus conducted the poll between June 10-13, contacting  805 registered voters. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.45 percent.

The National Wildlife Federation, the Ohio Environmental Council and Healing Our Waters– Great Lakes Coalition released the poll.

Sixty-six percent of the respondents said they would favor tighter regulations on farm runoff pollution.

Support was stronger among people who identified themselves as Democrats (75 percent) and independents (71 percent) than Republicans (51 percent). There was little variance in the support between men and women.

Algal blooms are increasingly plaguing Lake Erie and other bodies of water during warm weather, thanks in part because of phosphorus-rich fertilizer runoff that washes into tributary rivers. They can killed wildlife and can be harmful to people.

The General Assembly passed and Gov. John Kasich signed a bill that requires farmers to take a state-run certification course that teaches things such as how much fertilizer to use on a plot of land and when it should be applied. Those who take the course are granted some legal protections by the legislation.

The new law will take effect Aug. 21.

When asked about applying the Clean Water Act to wetlands and small streams, 62 percent of respondents supported the idea. Support was lowest among Republicans at 45 percent. Seventy-seven percent of Democrats and 62 percent of those identifying themselves as independents expressed support.

Forty-six percent of Ohio’s voters said they already had heard of the Asian carp, a predator and invasive species that has populated the Mississippi River basin. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Great Lakes states have sought to keep the species from expanding into that region, fearing it will seriously damage the lakes’ ecosystem.

After hearing a brief description of the issue, more than 90 percent said it was an issue of some concern. There was no difference between Democrats and Republicans in the percentage who expressed some concern.

Photo caption: Toxic blue-green algal blooms can be seen in this satellite image. A new poll found support for stronger regulation of farm runoff that contributes to the growth of the blooms. (The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration)

Robert Higgs, Cleveland

View original article at: Poll finds support for tougher farm runoff rules to cut algal blooms, widespread concern over Asian carp

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