Editorials from around Ohio
Excerpts of recent editorials of statewide and national interest from Ohio newspapers:
The Blade, Sept. 17
Few concepts remain as intriguing and exciting as space exploration. From the Apollo 11 mission to the moon in 1969 to the Curiosity rover reaching Mars in 2012, the United States’ achievements when reaching toward the cosmos is a point of national pride.
Many have hoped the next triumph could come in the form of a manned mission to Mars or the construction of a lunar base. But these projects have taken a backseat to NASA’s proposed Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway (LOP-G).
According to NASA officials, the outpost would orbit the Moon and serve as a staging area for missions deeper into space. The idea has been endorsed by the Trump administration. During a speech last month at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Vice President Mike Pence said the administration hopes to have an American crew aboard the LOP-G by 2024.
But critics have emerged with pointed criticisms of the project. Many have noted that the proposal lacks a clearly defined scientific goal.
NASA still does exciting and helpful work — the launch of the Parker Solar Probe in August would be a good example. But the questions surrounding the Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway are significant enough that NASA should revisit the usefulness of the project.
The Courier, Sept. 13
Everything is important when the Maumee Watershed Conservancy District meets, especially when the Blanchard River watershed is on the agenda. Take Tuesday’s meeting in Defiance.
The board awarded a $6.1 million contract to Findlay-based Helms Construction to widen about 3,500 feet of the Blanchard River, just west of downtown Findlay.
The district’s stamp of approval means Helms’ crews can start working and could be done by this time next year. That’s much-needed progress.
The fact that a local business was hired to do the job is another positive on the long journey to reducing flooding in both urban and rural areas in the watershed. To date, the process has been painstakingly slow.
The widening project will reduce the water level in downtown Findlay and downstream by a foot during a 100-year storm event. Certainly, more gains will be needed, but accomplishing phase one is a major accomplishment.
With Helms now on the job, progress is within sight. It’s time to move on to the next best ideas, explore them and try to reach a consensus. As long as the Blanchard River runs through us, we must see flood control as a continuing project with no end date.
The Akron Beacon Journal, Sept. 16
Methane is one of the most potent greenhouse gases, trapping heat in the atmosphere at a rate 25 times greater than carbon dioxide. Thus, it made sense, as part of curbing climate change, for the Obama White House to set rules requiring the oil and gas industry to restrict methane emissions, of which the industry as a whole is responsible for roughly one-third. Now, under President Trump, the federal Environmental Protection Agency has taken the shortsighted, and even dangerous, position of proposing to roll back the rules.
The EPA would do so by easing the requirements for monitoring and repair of drilling equipment. Under the current rules, drillers must perform leak inspections every six months and make any fixes within 30 days. The Trump proposal would set the inspections at once a year, and once every two years for low-producing wells. It would require repairs within 60 days.
The Obama White House attempted to provide American leadership, modest though the effort was. Now President Trump has proposed not just weakening the methane restrictions. He wants to ease the two other components of the climate change strategy put forward by his predecessor, reducing emissions from coal-fired power plants and improving the fuel-efficiency of cars and trucks.
The Columbus Dispatch, Sept. 17
Ohio’s economic fortunes always have been influenced by its location.
From its founding, leaders recognized the importance of building transportation routes to exploit locational advantage. No state outdid Ohio in promoting canals, railroads and highways.
The locational advantage remains, though in recent decades Ohio’s economy has slipped badly compared with national trends.
Despite coast-to-coast population fluctuations, Ohio remains within a day’s drive of 60 percent of the population of the United States and Canada. Transportation remains key to Ohio’s economic health.
Using projections from the Ohio Department of Transportation, the report says the state will need $55 billion by 2040 to maintain current conditions of roads, bridges and highways, but only $41 billion is expected to be available.
All of this means Ohio’s next governor and legislature, not far into 2019, will be asked to consider increasing Ohio’s gasoline tax, license fees and — most likely — a ballot issue to authorize a major bond package.
Ohio’s local chambers of commerce know lack of transportation is a major barrier to filling job openings in their communities. Half of transit riders have no car.
But it’s not just low-income Ohioans who depend on transit. Millennials and young professionals everywhere own fewer cars and drive less. They want to live in cities with transit options.
A lot rides on Ohio’s future leaders being able to navigate these imperatives.