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Gov. Kasich Admits Renewables Are the Future, So Why Did He Freeze Ohio's Clean Energy Mandate

Politics

At a town hall event in New Hampshire, presidential candidate John Kasich paid lip service to growing a clean energy economy, despite having hindered the growth of Ohio's wind, solar and other renewable energy industries.

It’s no surprise he’s talking about the importance of clean energy on the campaign trail—thousands of voters in Iowa and New Hampshire have committed to voting on clean energy and a growing number of Ohioans are doing the same. It’s time for Gov. Kasich to start leading by example and support clean energy at home, not just touting empty rhetoric on the campaign trail.

“In Ohio, we are going to have development of solar and wind,” Gov. Kasich said in New Hampshire. “If the legislature wants to gut it, then I’m going to go back to the goal that we had, which was unpalatable, because I’m not playing around with this.”

On June 13, 2014, Gov. Kasich signed a freeze on clean energy mandates into law. By slowing the growth of clean energy in the state, this bill had far reaching negative consequences to the environment and the economic prosperity of Ohio. The freeze is set to expire at the end of this year and leaders from across the Buckeye State are calling for clean energy solutions.

“As a business owner in Ohio who works in the clean energy sector, I’ve had the rug pulled out from under me by Ohio’s freeze on the renewable energy standards,” Alan Frasz, president of Dovetail Solar and Wind in Cleveland, said. “We were moving toward energy independence in Ohio, but with the dismantling of the renewable energy standards by Gov. Kasich and the legislature, many of those job opportunities have vanished.”

"For the past year, our Ohio legislature has sat back and ignored the cry of the Earth and the cry of the poor. They have put a deep freeze on our children's future by neglecting to act on climate change,” Rev. Dr. Tim Aherns of First Congregational Church in Columbus said. “Our state leaders can no longer hide behind political excuses to perpetuate this moral failure. Gov. Kasich must stand firm on his recent recognition that Ohio is ready for renewables. We are counting on him to lead the charge."

According to a recent study released by Policy Matters Ohio and NextGen Climate America, in partnership with Green for All and Ohio Partners for Affordable Energy, Ohio’s 2014 freeze on energy efficiency standards reduced weatherization efforts by 26 percent—costing Ohio families more on their electricity bills, causing more reliance on payment-assistance plans and creating fewer job opportunities in Ohio’s clean energy economy.

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The last time San Francisco did not record a drop of rain in February was in 1864 as the Civil War raged.

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On Thursday, the U.S. Drought Monitor said nearly 60 percent of the state was abnormally dry, up from 46 percent just last week, according to The Mercury News in San Jose.

The dry winter has included areas that have seen devastating fires recently, including Sonoma, Napa, Lake and Mendocino counties. If the dry conditions continue, those areas will once again have dangerously high fire conditions, according to The Mercury News.

"Given what we've seen so far this year and the forecast for the next few weeks, I do think it's pretty likely we'll end up in some degree of drought by this summer," said Swain, as The Mercury News reported.

Another alarming sign of an impending drought is the decreased snowpack in the Sierra Nevada Mountain range. The National Weather Service posted to Twitter a side-by-side comparison of snowpack from February 2019 and from this year, illustrating the puny snowpack this year. The snow accumulated in the Sierra Nevadas provides water to roughly 30 percent of the state, according to NBC Los Angeles.

Right now, the snowpack is at 53 percent of its normal volume after two warm and dry months to start the year. It is a remarkable decline, considering that the snowpack started 2020 at 90 percent of its historical average, as The Guardian reported.

"Those numbers are going to continue to go down," said Swain. "I would guess that the 1 March number is going to be less than 50 percent."

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Climate Prediction Center forecast that the drier-than-average conditions may last through April.

NOAA said Northern California will continue deeper into drought through the end of April, citing that the "persistent high pressure over the North Pacific Ocean is expected to continue, diverting storm systems to the north and south and away from California and parts of the Southwest," as The Weather Channel reported.

As the climate crisis escalates and the world continues to heat up, California should expect to see water drawn out of its ecosystem, making the state warmer and drier. Increased heat will lead to further loss of snow, both as less falls and as more of it melts quickly, according to The Guardian.

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The Guardian noted that while California's reservoirs are currently near capacity, the more immediate impact of the warm, dry winter will be how it raises the fire danger as trees and grasslands dry out.

"The plants and the forests don't benefit from the water storage reservoirs," said Swain, as The Mercury News reported. "If conditions remain very dry heading into summer, the landscape and vegetation is definitely going to feel it this year. From a wildfire perspective, the dry years do tend to be the bad fire years, especially in Northern California."

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