Ohio Governor Kasich to Legislature on Continued Clean Energy Freeze: No Deal

While Ohio's decision-makers in Columbus waffle on the fate of the state's currently-frozen clean energy standards, Governor Kasich holds an ace card known as a veto. And he's made clear that he has no problem calling their bluff.

Just this week Kasich weighed in on Ohio's energy efficiency and renewables policy, making clear that if the statehouse delivers him a bill that would further gut the clean energy policy, he would reinstate the prior requirements. This the second time he's intervened on this very issue in the last few months, so we can't help but think he's pretty serious about it.

Who could forget the dramatic turn of events last September when the legislative Energy Mandates Study Committee--tasked with determining the fate of Ohio's energy efficiency and renewables standards--unveiled a report after months of "study" inexplicably recommending that Ohio freeze its wildly successful clean energy policies indefinitely. Virtually immediately after the Committee made the report public, Kasich denounced the recommendation calling a continued freeze "unacceptable." That wasn't even the first time he had to get involved in this debate (e.g. intervening in 2014 to make the SB 310 freeze temporary rather than permanent) and it likely won't be the last.

He said this week:

In the meantime in Ohio, we are going to have development of solar and wind and if the legislature wants to gut it than I'm going to go back to the goal because I'm not playing around with this.

It's refreshing to see Kasich continuing to offer more specifics on where he stands on these common sense policies. After all, clean energy is a safe bet in Ohio. The state emerged as a regional leader when it first enacted its clean energy policies five years ago. We should not relinquish that role. Failing to lift the freeze would further stagnate economic growth and cost the state jobs, resources and opportunities. I've written extensively about the overwhelming evidence demonstrating the economic, health, and environmental benefits the energy efficiency and renewables standards have brought--and will bring--Ohio.

And I'm not the only one calling for a thaw to the freeze:

  • Large, job-creating companies like Whirlpool, Johnson Controls, Schneider Electric, United Technologies, and Ingersoll-Rand, and a host of clean energy investment companies similarly oppose any further delay in reinstating the standards.
  • The media has overwhelmingly denounced a continued freeze, declaring it a harmful direction for the state.
  • More than 10,000 Ohioans signed a petition last year asking lawmakers to support clean energy policies in the state and bring Ohio back to the forefront of the clean energy economy in the Midwest.

When one looks objectively at the wealth of data on Ohio's clean energy standards, the only honest conclusion is that the clean energy standards should be brought back, the sooner the better.

The real gamble is on dirty fossil fuels that pollute the air, affect our health and contribute to climate change.

For those opposed to finally moving Ohio forward on clean energy, it might make sense to cut their losses and fold. Because Governor Kasich isn't playing around this time.