Ohio Becomes First State to Roll Back Renewable Energy Mandate
Ohio Gov. John Kasich said two years ago that he had "no doubt" that the renewable energy bill he signed would last 100 years. After a state House of Representatives vote Wednesday afternoon, that appears unlikely.
The state House approved Senate Bill 310, 53 to 38, making Ohio the first in the U.S. to freeze renewable energy standards. The bill previously passed the Senate, but now the Senate needs to approve minor changes made by the House, and then the measure heads to Gov. John Kasich's desk.
The Columbus Dispatch reported Thursday that Kasich plans to sign the bill.
“As the rest of the country is moving forward on energy efficiency and independence, Ohio is moving backwards,” State Rep. Robert F. Hagan (D-Youngstown) said in a statement. “Reversing our Renewable Portfolio Standards is completely irrational, and unfortunately Ohio consumers and businesses are the victims of the absurdity."
In addition to the freeze, it ceases to require utilities to buy half of their renewable energy from Ohio companies. That's why many groups believe the legislation to be a job killer for the industry. According to the Columbus Dispatch, State Rep. Mike Foley (D-Cleveland) believes SB 310 was the worst proposal he has seen in eight years as a legislator.
Some environmental groups are still holding out hope that Kasich will veto the bill. However, they should recall Media Matters for America unearthing an unsettling fact earlier this month—Kasich is recognized in the American Legislative Exchange Council's (ALEC) internal talking points as someone who “helped mold ALEC in its formative years.” ALEC has attacked renewable standards in states across the country.
"Clean energy critics claim Ohio can no longer afford the clean energy standards. But that's not what they said just two years ago when lawmakers overwhelmingly approved the Kasich energy plan," Trish Demeter, managing director of Energy and Clean Air Programs for the Ohio Environmental Council, said in a statement. “What's changed in two short years? More importantly, has Governor Kasich's commitment to clean energy changed?
"Now is the time for him to demonstrate the forceful leadership that he not been afraid to exert on other issues."
Some think the answer to Demeter's question lies in several Ohio legislators' affiliation to ALEC. Aside from Kasich's ties, Ohio Sen. Bill Seitz (R-Cincinnati) is known as the legislation’s loudest advocate and is also an ALEC board member, for example.
“Passage of SB 310 threatens Ohio jobs and potential future investment in green technology," Hagan said. “We are on the precipice of destroying our environment and climate.
"Instead of clinging to outdated modes of energy generation, the legislature needs to focus on securing our state’s energy future.”
The American Wind Energy Association made a late push Wednesday for people to call their representatives in hopes that they would vote against SB 310. Now, the group hopes those constituents can influence Kasich.
"Much of the impressive growth of wind power in Ohio was sparked by our state renewable energy law—the Alternative Energy Portfolio Standard. This policy calls on Ohio utilities to provide 12.5 percent of their electricity from renewable resources by 2025," the organization wrote.
Earlier this year, Iberdrola Renewables presented $2.7 million worth of checks to two Ohio communities to commemorate the first of the annual payments in lieu of taxes for the Blue Creek Wind Farm—the state’s largest wind farm with 304 megawatts of output. Groups believe such investments will come to a halt as a result of Wednesday's vote.
"Governor Kasich has a critical choice to make: Back or bail on his own energy policy that embraces many different resources," Demeter said. "Cleaner air, consumer savings and new jobs and investment are hanging on his decision."
YOU ALSO MIGHT LIKE
The growing Texas solar industry is offering a safe harbor to unemployed oil and gas professionals amidst the latest oil and gas industry bust, this one brought on by the novel coronavirus pandemic, the Houston Chronicle reports.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
This month, a new era began in the fight against plastic pollution.
- Historic Agreement on Plastic Pollution Reached by 180+ Countries ... ›
- U.S. Leads the World in Plastic Waste, New Study Finds - EcoWatch ›
- EU Bans Exporting Unsorted Plastic Waste to Poorer Countries ... ›
Sweden's reindeer have a problem. In winter, they feed on lichens buried beneath the snow. But the climate crisis is making this difficult. Warmer temperatures mean moisture sometimes falls as rain instead of snow. When the air refreezes, a layer of ice forms between the reindeer and their meal, forcing them to wander further in search of ideal conditions. And sometimes, this means crossing busy roads.
- San Antonio, Texas Unveils Largest Highway Crossing for Wildlife in ... ›
- Wildlife Crossings a Huge Success - EcoWatch ›
- Climate Change Will Be Sudden and Cataclysmic Unless We Act Now ›
- There's a Heatwave at the Arctic 'Doomsday Vault' - EcoWatch ›
- Marine Heatwaves Destroy Ocean Ecosystems Like Wildfires ... ›
By Aaron W Hunter
A chance discovery of a beautifully preserved fossil in the desert landscape of Morocco has solved one of the great mysteries of biology and paleontology: how starfish evolved their arms.
The Pompeii of palaeontology. Aaron Hunter, Author provided<h2></h2><p>Although starfish might appear very robust animals, they are typically made up of lots of hard parts attached by ligaments and soft tissue which, upon death, quickly degrade. This means we rely on places like the Fezouata formations to provide snapshots of their evolution.</p><p>The starfish fossil record is patchy, especially at the critical time when many of these animal groups first appeared. Sorting out how each of the various types of ancient starfish relate to each other is like putting a puzzle together when many of the parts are missing.</p><h2>The Oldest Starfish</h2><p><em><a href="https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/216101v1.full.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Cantabrigiaster</a></em> is the most primitive starfish-like animal to be discovered in the fossil record. It was discovered in 2003, but it has taken over 17 years to work out its true significance.</p><p>What makes <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> unique is that it lacks almost all the characteristics we find in brittle stars and starfish.</p><p>Starfish and brittle stars belong to the family Asterozoa. Their ancestors, the Somasteroids were especially fragile - before <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> we only had a handful of specimens. The celebrated Moroccan paleontologist Mohamed <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.palaeo.2016.06.041" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Ben Moula</a> and his local team was instrumental in discovering <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0031018216302334?via%3Dihub" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">these amazing fossils</a> near the town of Zagora, in Morocco.</p><h2>The Breakthrough</h2><p>Our breakthrough moment came when I compared the arms of <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> with those of modern sea lilles, filter feeders with long feathery arms that tend to be attached to the sea floor by a stem or stalk.</p><p>The striking similarity between these modern filter feeders and the ancient starfish led our team from the University of Cambridge and Harvard University to create a new analysis. We applied a biological model to the features of all the current early Asterozoa fossils in existence, along with a sample of their closest relatives.</p>
Cantabrigiaster is the most primitive starfish-like animal to be discovered in the fossil record. Aaron Hunter, Author provided<p>Our results demonstrate <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> is the most primitive of all the Asterozoa, and most likely evolved from ancient animals called crinoids that lived 250 million years before dinosaurs. The five arms of starfish are a relic left over from these ancestors. In the case of <em>Cantabrigiaster</em>, and its starfish descendants, it evolved by flipping upside-down so its arms are face down on the sediment to feed.</p><p>Although we sampled a relatively small numbers of those ancestors, one of the unexpected outcomes was it provided an idea of how they could be related to each other. Paleontologists studying echinoderms are often lost in detail as all the different groups are so radically different from each other, so it is hard to tell which evolved first.</p>