Bill Lyons

Bill Lyons was involved in the passage of the Lake Erie Bill of Rights and the Rights of Nature in Ohio, that passed with 61 percent of the vote this past spring – a first for this type of law protecting an ecosystem in the United States. The bill, initiated because of the lake’s toxic algae, was so ground-breaking that it received national attention and recently ended up as a question on Jeopardy. But strange language creeped into the State of Ohio budget this May undermining the Lake Erie Bill of Rights, stating that, “…nature or any ecosystem does not have standing to participate or bring an action in a common pleas court; it prohibits any person, on behalf of nature or an ecosystem, from bringing, or intervening in, an action in such court; and it prohibits any person from bringing an action against a person who is acting on behalf of nature or an ecosystem.”

This version of the state budget bill passed and has been signed into law. Lyons investigated the impetus of the amendment with two public records requests. He discovered that Ohio Rep. James Hoops (R-Napoleon) added the language at the behest of Zach Frymier, the director of energy and environmental policy for the Ohio Chamber of Commerce. Lyons’ investigation revealed Frymier writing: “Language in this amendment stating that they [nature and ecosystems] do not have standing is essential to what we’re trying to accomplish.  If we could get that added I would be very grateful.” Once again, we are reminded how the Ohio Chamber of Commerce only looks out for corporate interests, and the Ohio state legislators are their indentured servants. Thank you Bill, for revealing what should be a transparent process to Ohioans and for all the work you do with the Columbus Community Bill of Rights and the Ohio Community Rights Network to protect our environment.