July 4, 2005: Headlines: Figures: COS - Tanzania: Politics: State Government: Akron Beacon Journal: Environmentalists praise Taft vetoes

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Tanzania: Special Report: Ohio Governor Bob Taft, RPCV Tanzania: February 9, 2005: Index: PCOL Exclusive: RPCV Bob Taft (Tanzania) : July 4, 2005: Headlines: Figures: COS - Tanzania: Politics: State Government: Akron Beacon Journal: Environmentalists praise Taft vetoes

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Environmentalists praise Taft vetoes

Environmentalists praise Taft vetoes

Gov. Bob Taft is beginning to leave a legacy as an environmentalist, advocates say, but also is angering developers who see the state as unnecessarily bogged down in regulation, the head of a construction trade group says. Ohio Governor Robert Taft served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Tanzania in the 1960's.

Environmentalists praise Taft vetoes

PERSPECTIVE: Environmentalists praise Taft vetoes


Associated Press

COLUMBUS, Ohio - Gov. Bob Taft is beginning to leave a legacy as an environmentalist, advocates say, but also is angering developers who see the state as unnecessarily bogged down in regulation, the head of a construction trade group says.

Taft on Thursday vetoed two budget provisions added by the Legislature that environmental advocates and his own Environmental Protection Agency director had opposed.

One would have allowed developers to replace wetlands they destroyed with another one that could be counties away. The other exempted brick and ceramics, such as slate, from dumping regulations.

The Ohio Environmental Council and other advocacy groups and EPA director Joe Koncelik lobbied against their passage.

"The governor feels, and certainly I share that belief, that if we're going to do substantive change we should do it in separate legislation," Koncelik said Friday. "The veto messages were right in line. The governor and I specifically talked about this."

In a message accompanying his veto of 27 budget line items, Taft said he would direct the EPA to make wetlands replacement more flexible.

"I support protecting higher quality wetlands in Ohio," he said.

Taft also said the ceramic and brick exemption "could make Ohio a dumping ground for this material."

Current law requires wetlands to be replaced within the same watershed and subjects ceramics and bricks to the same regulations and dumping fees as other construction debris.

The kudos for Taft come at a time when his administration has been tainted by a scandal over investment losses of more than $225 million at the state's injured-worker insurance program and his own admission that he failed to report golf outings to the Ohio Ethics Commission.

Jack Shaner, a lobbyist for the nonprofit environmental council, said Taft is proving to be a steward of the environment with the vetoes and his backing of the "Clean Ohio" bond program that voters approved in 2000.

"Taft heard the voices of sportsmen, conservationists, local public officials and his own EPA director and recognized that once you lose a wetlands, it's gone forever," Shaner said. "Any term-limited governor starts to look ahead at his legacy. He's built a heck of a legacy already with his Clean Ohio fund."

Taft has 18 months left in his second four-year term, the consecutive-term limit set by state law.

Developers shouldn't hold their breath waiting for Taft and the EPA to ease the state's regulatory system, said Vince Squillace, executive vice president of the Ohio Home Builders Association, a trade group.

"They never expressed any willingness at all to work on this issue in any way. ... We've had this ongoing debate about it and we've always gotten a bone-chilling experience from the governor on this," Squillace said. "They always claim their rules are not excessive, that we're imagining there are problems. I really couldn't say the governor is anti-development, but I don't think he realizes the impact environmental rules have."

The home builders won a victory in February when Taft allowed a law that dampened the authority that townships and counties have over residential development in unincorporated areas to become law without his signature. He said he had concerns about the plan but supported the bill's original purpose - allowing charter school pupils to take part in extracurricular activities in the public school districts where they live.

Taft isn't necessarily looking for a legacy as an environmentalist, but he is proud of his record, spokesman Mark Rickel said.

"The governor has had a strong record in protecting the environment, including leading the effort for the Clean Ohio bond issue," Rickel said.

When this story was posted in July 2005, this was on the front page of PCOL:

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Story Source: Akron Beacon Journal

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