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Published: Sunday, 10/21/2007

Governor's energy plan offers Toledo rays of hope

A penny for your thoughts, Ted: Imagine a pile of 100 pennies, with each representing a percentage of where Ohio's energy comes from.

Set aside 25. Each of those represents a percentage of so-called "advanced technology" sources that Ohio will commit itself to having by 2025 if the Ohio General Assembly adopts Gov. Ted Strickland's energy plan. That could be wind, solar, biomass, landfill gas, advanced nuclear, "clean" coal - pretty much anything other than the traditional, polluting way of generating power.

Now set aside one of those 25. Yes, a single penny. That represents the minimum commitment to solar power that its advocates want mandated in the adopted plan.

Doesn't sound like much, right?

That 1 percent commitment would be absolutely huge for Toledo. It would push the University of Toledo's profile to a higher level while providing a boon to First Solar, Xunlight, Advanced Distributed Generation, and others. That's because solar now comprises far less than 1 percent of Ohio's total power.

Citing findings by a California Institute of Technology researcher, UT's Al Compaan told the Ohio Senate Energy and Public Utilities Committee on Thursday that solar power is "the biggest energy resource in the world and the biggest job creator of any energy technology." Mr. Compaan, UT's physics and astronomy department chairman, helped create the university's nationally recognized solar program.

Mr. Strickland is leaving the decision up to the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio.

C'mon, Ted. Toss us a bone.

Speaking of Thursdays: This past Thursday marked the 35th anniversary of the federal Clean Water Act, one of the nation's landmark environmental laws.

Coupled with the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement, an international pact with Canada that also was signed in 1972, the Clean Water Act provided the fledgling U.S. Environmental Protection Agency legal muscle for better wastewater discharge limits on industries and sewage plants. Those laws are credited for bringing the Great Lakes - especially Lake Erie - back from the brink of death.

Happy Birthday, Clean Water Act.

Getting through the Dog Days of late October: Lest there be any confusion that autumn is here, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources is issuing weekly fall color updates each Thursday through early November at ohiodnr.com (you'll eventually be routed there if you start at discoverohio.com). Click on the Buckeye state map. No Internet? Call 1-800-BUCKEYE.

Here in northwest Ohio, Van Buren State Park in northern Hancock County, the Maumee State Forest in western Lucas and eastern Fulton counties, and Harrison Lake State Park in western Fulton County have 30 to 60 percent of their color showing. They should be at peak viewing within days.

In case you missed it: In an Oct. 9 report, the National Parks Conservation Association provided an inventory of what ails the Great Lakes region's six national parks.

Four are in Michigan: Isle Royale National Park, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Keweenaw National Historical Park, and Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. The other two are Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore and Apostle Islands National Lakeshore in Wisconsin.

No surprises. The parks are impacted by airborne pollutants, some hundreds of miles away. Their natural ecosystems are being destroyed by exotic plants and animals.

At Apostle Islands, two staffers are responsible for 21 islands and 265,000 acres. Talk about your government's commitment to enforcement .•.•.



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