Quantcast

Fossil Fuel Advocates Continue Attacking Ohio's Renewable Energy Future

Business

By Sam Gomberg

The latest good news about clean energy in Ohio is that the state ranks No. 8 in the nation for solar jobs. But despite this, 2014 has not ushered in a new era of civility or honest debate about the merits of Ohio’s clean energy standards that require a percentage of Ohio’s electricity demand be met with renewable energy and energy efficiency.

Instead, Bill Seitz, chair of the Ohio Senate Public Utilities Committee, started off the 2014 legislative session right where he left of last year: With misguided efforts to roll back Ohio’s successful clean energy policies.

Senator Seitz spent much of January and February holding hearings on Senate Bill 34 that would repeal Ohio’s renewable energy standard. Similar legislation inspired by the American Legislative Exchange Council has failed in Ohio and several other states in the past. And while this bill isn’t expected to make it out of committee, it does allow Senator Seitz to provide a venue for more attacks by fossil fuel-funded groups that make a living denying the reality of climate change and spreading misinformation about clean energy.

Past projects like the solar expansion at Wayne National Forest display the solar success in Ohio. Still, interest groups and politicians are crafting bills to halt the industry. Photo credit: Wayne National Forest/Flickr Creative Commons

A who’s who of anti-clean-energy lobbyists

Last week’s hearing saw testimony from a veritable who’s who of climate change deniers and anti-clean-energy groups.

The Heartland Institute was there, best known for comparing those who believe the science around climate change to Unabomber Ted Kacynski. We fact checked the Heartland Institute’s false claims about Ohio’s renewable energy standard last year. We’ve also exposed their efforts nationally to mislead the public on the reality of climate change and the potential for renewable energy to cost-effectively produce electricity.

Also testifying was the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), a group that found itself in hot water after one of its “scholars” compared  a prominent climate scientist to convicted child molester Jerry Sandusky. The Institute for Energy Research (IER) and Buckeye Institute were also there. All of these groups are funded by the Koch Brothers—kings of the fossil fuel special interest lobby.

And what are they using to make their case? Flawed, and in some cases outright biased reports that have been debunked by us and others. IER continues to recite misleading information from a 2009 report that has been discredited by everyone from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory to The Wall Street Journal. The Buckeye Institute provided testimony based in large part on another widely discredited analysis authored by the embattled Beacon Hill Institute, another group on the list of global warming skeptic organizations.

Now that Senator Seitz has given his fossil fuel interest buddies a chance to testify, Senate Bill 34 has been taken off the committee’s agenda. There was no opportunity for the majority of Ohioans, who believe the science behind climate change and support the state’s clean energy standards, to testify and set the record straight about how energy efficiency and renewable energy are benefiting the Buckeye State.

From one bad piece of legislation to the next

So what’s replacing Senate Bill 34 on the Public Utilities Committee agenda for this week? A new version of Senate Bill 58—the same bill that Senator Seitz tried to ram through the legislature last year and that was rejected by his own caucus because it was harmful to consumers and a huge give-away to Ohio’s largest utilities. We haven’t seen the new version yet, but given Senator Seitz’s repeated comparison of Ohio’s clean energy standards to Stalinist Russia, it’s a good bet that it isn’t friendly toward Ohio’s growing clean energy industries.

Senator Seitz is promising “devastating testimony” this week, most likely based on a recent report by Jonathan Lesser – a New Mexico-based consultant that has shown up in states across the country to provide his flawed brand of clean energy economics. His report attacks Ohio’s energy efficiency standard, claiming that because Ohio participates in a regional electricity market, the majority of the benefits of Ohio’s energy efficiency programs flow to other states that also participate in this market.

What he fails to address is how Ohio benefits from the energy efficiency standards enacted in Illinois, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Indiana, Michigan, and Virginia that also reduce electricity demand and put downward pressure on electricity prices in this regional market. The American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE) did a great job of explaining the multiple ways that energy efficiency provides economic benefits to Ohio’s consumers when they testified before Senator Seitz’s committee nearly a year ago.

Ironically, Ohio Senate President Keith Faber was recently quoted calling for a discussion about Ohio’s clean energy standards based on “science and economics.”  We agree that the time is right for an honest and informed discussion about the role of renewable energy and energy efficiency in Ohio.

But the one-sided, special interest-driven attacks now under way in Senator Seitz’s committee clearly is not that discussion.

Visit EcoWatch’s RENEWABLES page for more related news on this topic.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Sled dog teams pull researchers from the Danish Meteorological Institute through meltwater on the Greenland ice sheet in early June, 2019. Danish Meteorological Institute / Steffen M. Olsen

By Jon Queally

In yet the latest shocking image depicting just how fast the world's natural systems are changing due to the global climate emergency, a photograph showing a vast expanse of melted Arctic ice in Greenland — one in which a pair of sled dog teams appear to be walking on water — has gone viral.

Read More Show Less
CAFOs often store animal waste in massive, open-air lagoons, like this one at Vanguard Farms in Chocowinity, North Carolina. Bacteria feeding on the animal waste turns the mixture a bright pink. picstever / Flickr / CC BY-ND 2.0

By Tia Schwab

It has been almost a year since Hurricane Florence slammed the Carolinas, dumping a record 30 inches of rainfall in some parts of the states. At least 52 people died, and property and economic losses reached $24 billion, with nearly $17 billion in North Carolina alone. Flood waters also killed an estimated 3.5 million chickens and 5,500 hogs.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Members of the NY Renews coalition gathered before New York lawmakers reached a deal on the Climate and Communities Protection Act. NYRenews / Twitter

By Julia Conley

Grassroots climate campaigners in New York applauded on Monday after state lawmakers reached a deal on sweeping climate legislation, paving the way for the passage of what could be some of the country's most ambitious environmental reforms.

Read More Show Less
In this picture taken on June 4, an Indian boatman walks amid boats on the dried bed of a lake at Nalsarovar Bird Sanctuary, on the eve of World Environment Day. Sam Panthaky / AFP / Getty Images

By Julia Conley

Nearly 50 people died on Saturday in one Indian state as record-breaking heatwaves across the country have caused an increasingly desperate situation.

Read More Show Less
A man carries a poster in New York City during the second annual nationwide March For Science on April 14, 2018. Kena Betancur / Getty Images

By Will J. Grant

In an ideal world, people would look at issues with a clear focus only on the facts. But in the real world, we know that doesn't happen often.

People often look at issues through the prism of their own particular political identity — and have probably always done so.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored

YinYang / E+ / Getty Images

In a blow to the Trump administration, the Supreme Court ruled Monday to uphold a Virginia ban on mining uranium, Reuters reported.

Read More Show Less
Ragú Old World Style Traditional is one of three flavors named in a voluntary recall. Mike Mozart / CC BY 2.0

Spaghetti with plastic sauce? That's what you might be eating if you pour one of three flavors of Ragú sauce over your pasta.

Mizkan America, the food company that owns Ragú, announced Saturday that it was voluntarily recalling some Chunky Tomato Garlic & Onion, Old World Style Traditional and Old World Style Meat sauces because they might be contaminated with plastic fragments, The Today Show reported.

Read More Show Less
A butterfly in the National Butterfly Center, a private sanctuary for butterflies in southern Texas, on Jan. 22. Maren Hennemuth / picture alliance / Getty Images

While Trump's border wall has yet to be completed, the threat it poses to pollinators is already felt, according to the National Butterfly Center in Mission, Texas, as reported by Transmission & Distribution World.

Read More Show Less