PUBLIC INTEREST CENTER, (614) 644-2160
MEDIA CONTACT: Heather Lauer
CITIZEN CONTACT: Darla Peelle
March 26 Hearing Set on Ohio Environmental Education Fund Spending Priorities
Ohio EPA is seeking public input on proposed funding priorities for the Ohio Environmental Education Fund (OEEF) program for July 2015 through June 2016.
A public meeting will be held March 26, 2015, to discuss the annual agenda, answer questions and accept public comments. The meeting is at 10:30 a.m. at Ohio EPA conference center room A, 6th floor, Lazarus Government Center, 50 West Town Street, Columbus. Visitors to the building should bring a photo I.D.
OEEF plans to provide grants for environmental education projects that target the regulated community, general public and pre-school through university students and teachers. There are four priority focus areas for education funding:
encouraging efforts to reduce emissions to improve air quality, including reducing idling and using alternative forms of transportation;
encouraging innovative practices to limit the volume and pollution of storm water runoff in order to improve water quality in receiving streams and rivers;
encouraging efforts to reduce nutrient loadings to Ohio’s streams and lakes to improve water quality and prevent harmful algal blooms; and
encouraging and explaining the importance of habitat restoration efforts to increase biodiversity and improve air and water quality.
The OEEF proposes to continue annual scholarships to support environmental science and engineering students at Ohio colleges and universities through a partnership with the Ohio Academy of Science. To encourage young students to consider careers in environmental science and engineering, OEEF will continue to support State Science Day, the National Engineer’s Week Future City Competition for middle school students and the Ohio Envirothon competition for high school students.
OEEF funding also supports the Ohio Chemistry Technology Council’s “Teachers, Industry and the Environment” conference and an Environmental Career Ambassador program through a partnership with the Environmental Education Council of Ohio and The Ohio State University School of Environment and Natural Resources.
The OEEF provides funding to help “citizen scientists” and school classes monitor the health of their local streams under the credible data law. OEEF staff also offers certification to teachers in the WOW! The Wonders of Wetlands curriculum and coordinates the Healthy Water, Healthy People national curriculum for middle and high school students and this year took over coordination of Project WET.
The law that created OEEF requires that an agenda be set with spending priorities developed for each upcoming fiscal year. It is to be submitted to the General Assembly April 1, after a public hearing is held, to allow input from appointed OEEF advisory council members.
A fact sheet on the 2016 annual agenda is available on Ohio EPA’s website. Comments on the annual agenda can be sent to Carolyn Watkins, Ohio EPA Office of Environmental Education, P.O. Box 1049, Columbus, Ohio 43216-1049, or by fax to (614) 752-0727 or e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Comments received by 5 p.m. on March 31 will be included in the official record.
The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency was created in 1972 to consolidate efforts to protect and improve air quality, water quality and waste management in Ohio. Since then, air pollutants dropped by as much as 90 percent; large rivers meeting standards improved from 21 percent to 89 percent; and hundreds of polluting, open dumps were replaced with engineered landfills and an increased emphasis on waste reduction and recycling.