A new motion from the City of Toledo cites ‘fatal’ flaws in the corporate lawsuit against LEBOR. Petitioners file amicus brief supporting the City



Markie Miller, Toledoans for Safe Water, organizer

Tish O’Dell, Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund, Ohio Organizer

TOLEDO, OH: The City of Toledo has exposed serious errors and misrepresentations in Drewes Farms Partnership’s (DFP) federal lawsuit against the City of Toledo and the Lake Erie Bill of Rights (LEBOR). Through briefs opposing motions by plaintiff DFP and intervenor-plaintiff State of Ohio, the City argues DFP’s rush to overturn LEBOR suffers from “fatal procedural flaws,” misrepresentations, and defects that require the lawsuit’s dismissal.

Citing the ongoing landmark court case Juliana v. United States, the City has come out in favor of “Toledoans’ due process rights to a clean and healthy environment.” Petitioners with Toledoans for Safe Water filed an amicus brief, supporting the City, particularly its argument that DFP’s and the State’s lawsuit “undermine[s] the right of local community self-government established by the City’s Charter and the Ohio Constitution.”

The day after Toledo residents passed LEBOR in February 2019, DFP claimed it was personally injured by the vote. However, LEBOR only governs activities within the City of Toledo. The City points out that not only does DFP not own any land it farms, but none of that land lies within the City.

“It is the City and its residents that have been injured. The state has failed to protect Lake Erie,” stated Markie Miller of Toledoans for Safe Water. Since 2014, the City has spent over $527 million to protect its water supply, including during the 2014 drinking water crisis that was caused by toxic algae blooms in Lake Erie. The lake is currently experiencing severe algae blooms.

In response to the State’s arguments that the City and its residents had no authority to pass LEBOR or defend Lake Erie, the City reiterates its jurisdiction over two miles of the lake’s Maumee Bay, and its power to strengthen state protections. LEBOR does not replace state or federal law or regulations, the City argues. Rather, it builds on them to provide additional protections for the lake.

The State has also argued that LEBOR will undermine its authority to protect Lake Erie. “The state has repeatedly failed to protect Lake Erie. Any claim that it can’t protect the lake if we do, rings hollow,” stated Miller.

The City strongly rejects DFP’s argument that the corporation’s First Amendment speech is being chilled by LEBOR. “Conversely,” the City writes, “the real chilling effect would occur if the Court granted DFP’s Motion and considered its request for attorney fees, since this would give DFP – a non-resident – the ability to use a speculative and theoretical future injury to nullify a citizens’ initiative petition and vote of the Toledo electorate.”

“We are happy to see the City standing up for LEBOR and Toledoans’ rights to a clean and healthy environment,” says Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF) Ohio Organizer Tish O’Dell. CELDF assisted in drafting petitioner’s amicus brief. “The lake is experiencing toxic blooms right now. The people of Toledo decided at the ballot back in February that they are done accepting being poisoned for corporate profits. Instead of being able to go forward with the law the people passed, an agricultural corporation and the State of Ohio sued the city on speculative claims. It’s time for the judge to end their lawsuit. We need to recognize our dependence on the lake – not the other way around. LEBOR is about recognizing rights of the Lake and stopping the harm before the Lake is completely dead.”

To read the City’s motions and petitioners’s amicus brief visit: https://www.courtlistener.com/docket/14573310/drewes-farms-partnership-v-city-of-toledo-ohio/ 

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