Even Road Salt Can Be Controversial

After two brutal winters and allegedly being overcharged for road salt, Cleveland is ready for snow.
by | January 2016
(AP/Mark Duncan)

Stockpiling salt is a yearly ritual for many cities. It’s estimated that more than 22 million tons of salt are scattered on U.S. roads annually, which Smithsonian Magazine equates to about 137 pounds of salt for every American. The stockpiling usually begins in September, well before the first frost. That’s about when Cleveland got its first shipment, as well as news that its snow budget was a little richer than expected. This summer, Ohio announced an $11.5 million settlement with Morton Salt Inc. and Cargill Inc. to resolve allegations that the companies conspired with each other, causing the state and local governments to pay higher prices for road salt. Cleveland’s share of the settlement is $250,000. High salt prices there have been the subject of numerous news reports over the past two brutal winters. This time last year, Cleveland was being inundated with snow and freezing temperatures: Clevelanders saw 10 days with temperatures below zero in February, the coldest February in the city’s recorded history. That’s one reason Cleveland officials are hoping forecasters at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration are right in their predictions that Ohio’s winter will be warmer and drier than normal. But if the Farmers’ Almanac is to be believed, the 2016 winter season is looking a lot like last year’s: very frigid and very snowy.