Ohio Legislature Attempts to Gut Clean Energy, Again

In Washington this week we witnessed a striking example of ideology over common sense, as President Trump signed an executive order designed to destroy important federal climate protections, including U.S. EPA’s landmark Clean Power Plan (CPP) to cut dangerous carbon pollution from the nation’s existing power plants. (NRDC and our allies, including several leading states and cities, and countless multi-national corporations and local businesses, are doing everything in our power to stop the Trump administration’s misguided attempts. So don’t give up on the CPP just yet.)

As a result of those federal actions, now more than ever, it’s up to the states to lead on climate and clean energy. But today in Ohio, lawmakers in the House are taking a page from the Trump playbook and bringing to a vote HB 114—legislation that would essentially gut the state’s similarly forward-looking renewable energy and energy efficiency standards, (called, collectively, the clean energy standards). With this attempt, it’s déjà vu all over again, with ideology once again trying to win out over plain common sense.

Keep in mind that Ohio’s clean energy standards have already saved consumers in the Buckeye State $2 billion on their energy bills, thanks to the energy efficiency efforts the law requires, and that the standards have helped create tens of thousands of new, local, good-paying jobs, and improved public health. Not to mention the fact that with these standards in place, Ohio can compete with its similarly-situated Republican-controlled neighbors, such as Illinois and Michigan, which have recently upped their own renewable energy standards.

Keep in mind, also, that Ohio Governor John Kasich already vetoed similar legislation at the end of December.

Really.

Just three months ago, with Kasich citing the afore-mentioned energy bill savings and the fact that big employers, including major players in Ohio’s economy— General Motors, Whirlpool, and Cincinnati-based Proctor & Gamble—want renewable energy. “[O]ur state’s wide range of energy generation options,” are attractive, Kasich said, “particularly the very options most prized by the companies poised to create many jobs in Ohio in the coming years.” That is so true, in fact, that a full 112 companies, including Campbell Soup, Owens Corning, Nestle, and the Gap, wrote in support of the renewable energy standard last fall.

Ohio’s clean energy standards have already offered a huge number of benefits. And they can offer more still, if anti-clean-energy legislators, many of whom are supported by fossil fuel interests, can keep their hands off the standards for long enough to allow the policy certainty that attracts businesses to take hold.

Here is just a sampling of these benefits so far:

  • Billions in energy savings: In addition to the aforementioned $2 billion, at least $2.15 billion more are expected over the lifetime of efficiency measures already installed under the standards.
  • 100,000 clean energy jobs: Ohioans currently lead the nation in wind power manufacturing, with more than 60 facilities across the state. Not only that, but “one solar-related job supports 1.31 jobs elsewhere in the Ohio economy, while every $1 spent on solar generates an additional $0.87 in spending throughout the state,” according to the Solar Foundation’s Andrea Luecke, citing an analysis from George Mason University. All told, clean energy supports 100,000 jobs in the Buckeye State. But that number could be far higher, if we keep these important drivers of clean energy on the books.
  • Improved public health: The public health benefits of the clean energy standards are not just enormous but clear. In 2017 alone, if state legislators and the governor make smart choices, the standards can prevent 140 premature deaths, 230 heart attacks, 2,230 asthma attacks, and 16,900 lost days of work and school. By 2029, the clean energy standard can prevent 22,820 premature deaths among Ohio neighbors, families, and friends. 

So let’s make sure common sense, good jobs, energy savings, and improved public health prevail in Ohio. The plan to gut the state’s clean energy standard was a bad idea last year. This year, as we count on states to take the lead on climate and clean energy, it makes even less sense still.

About the Authors

Samantha Williams

Staff Attorney, Midwest program

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