A U.S. senator says Grand Lake St. Marys continues to remain on his agenda as he closes out the first quarter of his first term in Washington. Republican U.S. Sen. Rob Portman addressed a handful of issues during a teleconference Thursday with regional media. In it, Portman reiterated his commitment to help heal the lake.

“I am very concerns about it and we are working with both state and local officials who have begun to focus on some new ways to address the problem, including nonpoint sources of run-off,” Portman said during the media teleconference. “I am also working here on a federal level with EPA and trying to figure out what strategies we can put in place.”

Portman touted the cooperation among local, state and federal agencies to help spur projects aimed at quelling another outbreak of toxic algae this summer. Outbreaks the last two years halted activity at the lake, including a state advisory last year that warned against coming into contact with lake water.

“I think this is an example of where local, state and federal partnerships are going to be needed and I hope we are successful in dealing with it,” Portman said. “It’s a matter of safety, it’s a matter of recreation, including sporting and fishing. We are working on it.”

Portman, like U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, recently sent a letter supporting Quasar Energy’s request for federal funds to help cover costs associated with installing a methane digester in the region. He also submitted a letter backing a grant request for a bio-digester.

Portman also touched upon President Barack Obama’s energy address he gave earlier this week. In it, Obama called for a 33 percent reduction in oil imports by 2025.

“As usual, I thought the president delivered a speech that sounded good and I agreed with some of his rhetoric,” Portman said. “I would be more aggressive than the president in terms of goals by lifting some of the restrictions on domestic production and encouraging production in states like Ohio where we have unexpected and potential signs of natural gas and oil.”

Obama also reaffirmed his support of nuclear energy’s role in America’s future. Portman, on several occasions, mentioned modular nuclear plants as possible options toward reducing the nation’s dependency on foreign fossil fuels.

“I would be more aggressive in terms of moving forward with domestic production and modular nuclear reactors,” Portman said. “Specifically, the president has not moved aggressively forward on the outer continental shelf.”

Portman said possible sources of shale gas and oil in northeast Ohio could help attract production jobs to the state — bolstering its economy.

“I thought the president properly stated that it’s an economic risk for us to be so dependent on foreign sources of oil — certainly with what’s happening in the Middle East the past few months,” Portman said. “I would be more aggressive, yet I am glad he is addressing it.”


By Mike Burkholder, Wapakoneta Daily News