Ohio Gov. John Kasich vetoed House Bill 554 Tuesday, a bill that would have effectively extended the freeze on the state's clean energy standards.
Ohio's renewable energy and energy efficiency standards have been frozen for the past two years, ever since Gov. Kasich signed SB 310 on June 13, 2014. According to the Environmental Defense Fund, the freeze cost the state its place as a national leader in the clean energy economy by hampering innovation, investment and jobs.
A 2015 survey by Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2), a national, nonpartisan group of business owners and investors, showed that job growth in the clean energy sector in Ohio slowed to 1.5 percent, and those firms that did grow had to find business out of state.
"Today Governor Kasich put economic growth over politics ... With the state's renewable and efficiency standards back in place, Ohio can reclaim its spot as a clean energy leader, clearing the way for well-paying jobs, millions in investment and healthier air for all," Dick Munson, director of Midwest Clean Energy for Environmental Defense Fund, said. "Ohioans should cheer—it may be winter, but the clean energy freeze has finally thawed."
4 Reasons Why Gov. Kasich Must Veto Ohio's Energy Bill https://t.co/aP2A3nPK1j @energyaction @RenewablesNews— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1482185408.0
The Ohio General Assembly, lead by lame-duck Republicans in the House and Senate, passed House Bill 554 earlier this month, ignoring Kasich's warning that he would not favor a bill that "went backward on the environment."
"Reinstating these policies means the state can continue to work toward creating jobs and growing the economy, all while reducing harmful global warming emissions to better protect our children, public health and natural resources," Melanie Moore, Midwest field director at the Union of Concerned Scientists, said. "Ohio can now join other states as they charge forward towards a clean energy future for our nation."
The state's original Renewable Portfolio Standard, SB 221, was passed in 2008. It set a target for the state to get 25 percent of its electricity from "advanced energy sources" by 2025, with a requirement that at least half (12.5 percent or more) to be generated from "renewable energy resources," including one-half of one percent from solar and 50 percent of the energy to be generated within the state.
Now, unless Kasich's veto is overridden, Ohio can take advantage of the public health benefits of the clean energy standards. According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, in 2017 alone, the standards could prevent 140 premature deaths, 230 heart attacks, 2,230 asthma attacks and 16,900 lost days of work and school.
"I applaud Governor Kasich for showing true leadership and vetoing this bill," Heather Taylor-Miesle, executive director of Ohio Environmental Council Action Fund, said. "HB 554 is a sloppy piece of legislation that could increase electric bills and clog our air with pollution while hampering innovation and job growth. We urge legislators to follow Governor Kasich's lead and allow Ohio's clean energy potential to be unleashed."
According to Ceres, several research reports show Ohio's clean energy policies were bringing money into the state and benefiting consumers before the freeze was put in place in 2014:
- Ohio attracted $1.3 billion in private clean energy investment from 2009 to 2013 and was projected to generate an additional $3 billion over the next ten years, according to Pew.
- Electricity customers were saving hundreds of millions of dollars each year on their bills and were on track to save over $5 billion cumulatively by 2020.
- Investments in Ohio's clean energy sector created thousands of new jobs and stimulated over $160 million in annual GDP growth.
- Ohio's wind industry lost more than 1,400 jobs last year, according to the report by the Clean Energy Trust and Environmental Entrepreneurs.
"Policies that encourage clean energy investment are on the rise in many U.S. states because they make strong business sense," Mindy Lubber, president of Ceres, said. "By allowing Ohio's clean energy standards to come back online, Governor Kasich joins other Midwest states—including Michigan and Illinois—that recently passed laws strengthening renewable energy and energy efficiency efforts, which will stimulate private investment, economic growth and new jobs."
Geoff Greenfield, president of Third Sun Solar, agrees. "This anti solar legislation was more about protecting the old-fashioned energy industry than about economic development and competition. We are thrilled Governor Kasich decided to move past the bill's shortsighted views on energy policy and position Ohio to participate in solar, the nation's fastest growing energy segment."
Typhoon Molave is expected to make landfall in Vietnam on Wednesday with 90 mph winds and heavy rainfall that could lead to flooding and landslides, according to the U.S. Embassy and U.S. Consulate in Ho Chi Minh City. To prepare for the powerful storm that already tore through the Philippines, Vietnam is making plans to evacuate nearly 1.3 million people along the central coast, as Reuters reported.
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A stretch of coastline in the Philippine capital, Manila has received backlash from environmentalists. The heavily polluted Manila Bay area, which had been slated for cleanup, has become the site of a controversial 500-meter (1,600-foot) stretch of white sand beach.
Sand Makeup Crucial for Ecosystems<p>While UNEP/GRID-Geneva generally supports finding <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/not-enough-sand-for-construction-industry-despite-abundance/a-49342942" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">alternative sources of sand</a> so as not to disrupt ecosystems in rivers and oceans when extracting them, Vander Velpen stressed it was vital to use sand which closely matches the makeup of the native sand to protect beach fauna.</p><p>"If you change the core characteristics of the native sand, the original sand, you need to do an environmental impact assessment (EIA) to find out how it's going to impact the ecosystem and nearby ecosystems," he told DW.</p><p>But according to Torres, such an assessment was not done in Manila.</p>
Beautification Stunt Instead of Proper Cleanup?<p>Manila Bay's waters are heavily polluted by oil and trash from nearby residential areas and ports. A huge "No swimming" sign warns visitors to stay away from the ocean.</p><p>Philippines' <a href="https://denr.gov.ph/index.php/priority-programs/manila-bay-clean-up/25-priority-programs/1825-frequently-ask-questions-faqs-on-the-dolomite-and-the-beach-nourishment-project" target="_blank">Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR)</a> has denied dolomite sand poses any risk to human health and the ecosystem.</p><p>However, scientists of the University of the Philippines have come forward disputing the DENR's claims. A <a href="https://biology.science.upd.edu.ph/index.php/ib-statement-regarding-dolomite-in-manila-bay/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">statement by the Institute of Biology</a> said that using crushed dolomite did not address any of the rehabilitation phases and instead was "even more detrimental to the existing biodiversity as well as the communities in the area," pointing to the case of water birds. "The dumping of dolomite in Manila Bay has effectively covered part of the intertidal area used by the birds thereby reducing their habitat."</p><p>At peak migration season, Manila Bay is home to 90 aquatic bird species, including species of international conservation concern that are facing a very high extinction risk in the wild. </p><p>Authorities should focus on protecting and conserving biodiversity, the Institute of Biology added. "Rehabilitating mangroves is an example of a nature-based solution that is cheaper and more cost-effective than the dolomite dumping project," the scientists said.</p><p>Moreover, <a href="http://www.msi.upd.edu.ph/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">the Marine Science Institute</a> has warned that prolonged inhalation of finer dust particles of dolomite could "cause chronic health effects," leading to discomfort in the chest, shortness of breath and coughing.</p><p>They also warned dolomite sand grains would erode during storms and be carried out to sea, essentially being washed away.</p>
Rehabilitation vs. Reclamation<p>Environmentalists say covering up the beach doesn't address the real issues of the bay. Torres and others believe the best way to clean up Manila Bay is not to add anything, but rather remove trash and pollution.</p><p>"There have been studies saying much of the waste comes from already collected waste — so these are open dump sites along the coast that get washed up because of the rain," Torres said.</p><p>She criticized the authorities for continuing to push reclamation projects she says are at odds with each other. These projects will affect large areas of mangrove forests, she said, and experts warn that this, in turn, exacerbates coastal erosion.</p><p>"If you've removed the areas that helped trap the sand, like mangrove forests, then the likelihood increases that you will have to nourish a beach. Same as building right up to the waterfront," said Vander Velpen of UNEP/GRID-Geneva.</p>
Plenty of Sand in the Sea?<p>The question of Manila's contentious white beach echoes larger questions about sand mining worldwide. <a href="https://unepgrid.ch/storage/app/media/documents/Sand_and_sustainability_UNEP_2019.pdf" target="_blank">Global sand consumption has tripled</a> over the past two decades, UNEP/GRID-Geneva has found. A huge chunk of it is now taken up by construction.</p><p>"Many operate on the assumption that natural sand is endless in its supply," said Vander Velpen.</p><p>Sand scarcity is a concern shared by Stefan Schimmels of <a href="https://www.fzk.uni-hannover.de/fzk_start.html?&L=1" target="_blank">Forschungszentrum Küste</a> who's done extensive research on shore nourishment to stop coastal erosion. And as climate change and rising sea levels are threatening coasts, demand for sand will grow even more.</p><p>A large study, the <a href="http://www.stencil-project.de/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/STENCIL_SWOT_Analyse_191026.pdf" target="_blank">Strategies and Tools for Environment-Friendly Shore Nourishments as Climate Change Impact Low-Regret Measures (STENCIL project)</a>, focused on the German island of Sylt, a popular vacation spot.</p><p>About 1 million cubic meter of sand per year is used to maintain the coastal area of Sylt, STENCIL project head Schimmels said. That's about 100 million 10-liter buckets of sand.</p><p>When sand was extracted off the coast of Sylt, underwater craters were formed. "You can still detect these craters even decades later," Schimmels told DW.</p><p>"Also when you add a couple of meters sand onto the beach — you essentially bury all things that do creep and fly," he said. "How quickly will they recover?" Schimmels said more research was needed as there was still too little known about long-term effects on the environment. </p>
Criticism Piling Up<p>As for Manila's artificial white sand, it looks like some might have already been blown away by a recent storm. DENR claims it wasn't washed away, but said that grayish sand, stones and other material had simply piled up over the dolomite sand. People in Manila have tweeted photos showing how the storm has ravaged the beach. </p>
<div id="adc0b" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="98f9390db6bb81cb421aaf0bb9d9a6fb"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1318816633280851969" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">Exactly one month after giving excited netizen a glimpse of Manila Bay white sands, look what happened now after ju… https://t.co/X0Z9i0bPB0</div> — M*A*S*H (@M*A*S*H)<a href="https://twitter.com/Magtira_Matibay/statuses/1318816633280851969">1603265362.0</a></blockquote></div><p>Authorities have been called tone-deaf for spending around 389 million pesos ($8 million) on a beach nourishment project in the middle of a raging pandemic.</p><p>An image of cake iced with the words "It really hurts - that's [worth] 389 million pesos?" has since gone viral.</p>
<div class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="4387aad52ea316e4db7330052318ca2f"><div class="fb-post" data-href="https://www.facebook.com/theweekendpatisserie/posts/144564207350008"></div></div><p>"It's just a waste of precious resources," Torres said. </p><p>The environmental activist now also worries that she might be labeled a terrorist for speaking out under the <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/philippine-anti-terrorism-law-triggers-fear-of-massive-rights-abuses/a-53732140" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Philippines' controversial new anti-terrorism law</a>. She says she could be arrested for inciting fear when talking about environmental dangers.</p>
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