Ohio lawmakers could take action this week to repeal House Bill 6 which has been called the “worst energy bill of the 21st century” and is now the subject of an ongoing FBI investigation. House Bill 6 is a massive taxpayer bailout for FirstEnergy that is significantly raising electricity bills for every Ohioan.
In addition to bailing out two aging nuclear plants, the controversial law also bailed out a pair of the oldest coal plants in the entire country, one of which is in Indiana. It also put more than 110,000 jobs at risk by eliminating our energy efficiency and renewable portfolio standards.
While some of the increased charges have already hit customer bills, the bulk of this bad deal will hit consumers in January if lawmakers don’t take action to repeal the bill very soon as new legislation requires 90 days to take effect. Time is quickly running out.
We should be investing in the clean and renewable energy technologies of the future, technologies that can create good jobs and protect clean air for our children and grandchildren, not bailing out the failing energy sources of the past. HB 6 became law through a process now alleged to be corrupted with bribery, back room deals and $62 million in illegal secret donations from FirstEnergy to politicians, leading to a federal investigation and the arrest and indictment on bribery accusations of Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder.
In the Ohio House—where the whole idea of HB6 originated—the future of HB6 remains uncertain. Rumors are rampant that the House is considering a myriad of ways of neglecting the only course of action that can fix this mess, a full and clean repeal. Instead, some members of the House continue twisting themselves into pretzels to find ways to maintain this tainted corporate bailout.
It’s Even Worse Than It Seems
But the impact of House Bill 6 goes beyond the corruption that is alleged as being responsible for its passage. Ohioans are suffering from the COVID public health crisis. As we struggle our way through this health and economic crisis, our legislature is layering on a $1.5 billion bailout for one very powerful and potentially corrupt company, FirstEnergy. It’s simply unfair to have electricity customers in this state pay every month to bail out FirstEnergy while the rest of the state struggles to maintain and grow jobs.
Large businesses around the globe are demanding clean energy. Corporate sustainability goals focused on renewable energy procurement are targeting 100% clean, renewable power sources and are being achieved faster and faster. And these companies are increasingly looking to procure these energy sources locally. House Bill 6 has sent a signal that Ohio is not clean energy friendly, a signal that could keep clean energy jobs—like rooftop solar installers, one of the fasting growing jobs in the country—from locating in Ohio. We need a clean energy policy that signals Ohio is open for business and is interested in these massive job markets.
Instead, House Bill 6 bailed out two failing nuclear plants and two failing coals plants in an effort to protect some jobs, for now, even though it was never made clear that the money was even needed to protect those jobs. The bill also included language that threatens the future of 114,000 clean energy jobs in the state, most of which are high-paying construction and manufacturing careers for men and women in Ohio, and this impact is being felt in the middle of a pandemic that has already crippled much of our economy and threatens our health.
House Bill 6 will make our air dirtier, make Ohioans sicker and increase carbon pollution from our power sector. Our efficiency and renewable standards had helped to clean our air well enough to prevent more than an estimated 44,000 asthma attacks, 4,400 heart attacks, and over 2,800 premature deaths. But House Bill 6 reverses this progress and stops action on the climate crisis, action that cannot wait any longer.
We Need Action Now!
We at NRDC stand with the overwhelming majority of Ohioans this week in calling on our Ohio lawmakers to pass a full and clean repeal of House Bill 6. We all deserve better than this. Our state’s honor and integrity demand immediate and comprehensive action. Ohio must Repeal House Bill 6.