By Joel Penhorwood
A federal judge on Tuesday made a notable announcement regarding the ongoing Lake Erie Bill of Rights lawsuit brought forward by farmers in Ohio.
U.S. District Judge Jack Zouhary said he would not allow Lake Erie to participate in the lawsuit.
Cleveland.com reported he called the request “unusual” and “meritless.”
The Lake Erie Bill of Rights (LEBOR) looks to give the body of water itself legal rights, allowing Toledo residents to sue on its behalf. It stems from the ongoing tension from the Harmful Algal Blooms which forced the City of Toledo to shut down its drinking water system for three days in 2014.
LEBOR was passed by Toledo voters in February, and Wood County farmer Mark Drewes immediately countered the move with a lawsuit of his own the day after LEBOR was passed, questioning its constitutionality.
The proceedings regarding the case continued this week and the environmental advocate group Toledoans for Safe Water had asked to be included in the legal action, along with Lake Erie itself, in order to better represent those in favor of LEBOR. They argued the Toledo city lawyers would not do an adequate job of defending the law and wanted to step in as a result.
Judge Zouhary ruled the Toledoans for Safe Water being involved would “unduly delay this lawsuit” and their interests were not enough to meet the requirements of a federal lawsuit.