With energy touching everything we do, from brewing our morning coffee to commuting to work and putting food on the table, Gov. John Kasich is calling for a diverse mix of reliable, low-cost energy sources to power Ohio and meet its job-creation needs.
To accomplish this, he is proposing 10 energy “pillars,” with a tilt for fossil fuels. Coal, oil and gas—the three horsemen of climate change—are poised for greatness in Kasich’s energy plan. But true to his word, the Kasich “black and green” plan includes energy efficiency and renewable energy, too. Here’s a summary of five of Kasich’s energy pillars along with my green-tinged commentary.
Shale gas. The plan proposes to update health and environmental regulations “to account for changes in Ohio’s new shale industry” and “to ensure public safety.” Included are promises to modernize construction standards for wells and pipelines, publicly disclose fracking chemicals, encourage wastewater treatment and recycling to conserve water and reduce Ohio’s reliance on underground waste injection wells, and consolidate and streamline agency review of production, processing and fractionation facilities. Green comment: Make no mistake, Kasich is the oil and gas industry’s cheerleader in residence.
Envisioning a cornucopia of jobs, investment and cheap energy, he wants the industry to frack its way across Ohio. But he’s not all tunnel vision. If fracking is to occur, getting the right regulations in place will be critical for the safe and responsible development of shale gas. The plan IDs several urgent needs and its emphasis on strengthened well construction standards and water conservation is well placed. But “streamlining” fracking permits sounds way too industry cozy.
Coal. Kasich wants to mine Ohio’s high-sulfur coal, yet reduce its impact on the environment. He’s proposing $30 million for coal research projects on carbon capture and sequestration, enhanced oil recovery and other new technologies, streamlined coal mining permits, and encouraging disposal of toxic-laced coal ash in solid waste landfills. Green comment: The capture and permanent storage of carbon from coal sounds good. But haven’t we burned enough taxpayer dollars in pursuit of the elusive “clean coal”? Kasich is right to encourage the safe disposal of coal waste. “Streamlined” permits for King Coal sounds suspicious.
Cogeneration. Kasich wants to capture waste energy byproducts that currently go up the smokestack in the form of flared gas or lost heat and steam and, instead, turn it into clean, green energy. To accomplish this, he wants to (1) define cogeneration as a renewable energy source for Ohio, (2) allow electric utilities to use cogeneration to meet Ohio’s energy efficiency standard, (3) revamp the defunct Ohio Energy Loan Fund to place more focus on energy efficiency and alternative fuels, and (4) review the cogeneration potential of newly constructed or renovated state-owned buildings and facilities. Green comment: Right on to Kasich’s objective to help manufacturers capture waste heat and use it to generate low-cost, low-emission electric power. That is a good, green goal—as long as it doesn’t come at the expense of truly green energy, like wind and solar. Studies confirm that Ohio manufacturers have the potential to generate significant amounts of electric power from waste heat. So, every kilowatt of power generated from captured waste energy is one less kilowatt that may be supplied by coal or nuclear. But stuffing cogeneration into Ohio’s fledgling renewable energy standard will reduce investments in wind and other renewable fuels. Tweet to Gov K—Love your goal to capture waste energy. Turning brown waste energy to clean, green energy is cool. But please don’t pull the plug on wind and solar by defining cogen as renewable energy.
Energy efficiency. The plan calls for bulking up the energy efficiency of state-owned buildings, ID’ing new efficiency technologies and programs, setting fuel efficiency standards for state fleet vehicle replacement, reviewing utility green pricing programs and expanding customer choice. Green comment: Saving energy saves taxpayer dollars and grows Ohio jobs. That’s a green initiative that red and blue lawmakers can agree on.
Renewable energy. Kasich wants to pursue “reliable and cost effective renewable energy sources” by developing a loan fund for alternative fuels, revamping the Ohio Energy Loan Fund to finance energy efficiency and renewable energy projects, ID and solve interconnection challenges for renewable energy projects, and expand customer choice through utility green pricing programs. Green comment: Last, but not least, is Kasich’s promise of true, green energy from the wind, sun and elsewhere. These policies will help tap Ohio’s green power potential, but Ohio could enable even more green energy projects by amassing millions of dollars in a public benefits fund from just pennies a month on utility bills. Finally, counting cogen as renewable energy will hurt investments in utility-scale projects.
Regulatory reform. Kasich's plan directs the Ohio EPA to develop “general permits” for business to minimize lengthy permit review and asks the feds to recognize Ohio’s wetland permitting program. Green comment: Getting away from energy, here—unless your talking the energy it takes polluting industries to comply with environmental permits, that is. One-size-fits-all general permits are fine for run-of-the-mill dry cleaners and gas stations. But they give short shrift to public comment. Go slow, here.
Electric generation. Kasich wants to experiment with making the electric grid more efficient by computerizing it with a “smart grid.” He also wants to give customers the choice to be able to order up electricity made from green fuels. Finally, he wants to consider how U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rules will impact future power generation and transmission. Green comment: The governor is right to push “smart grids” which deliver big energy efficiency benefits and help manage peak demand. Giving choosey customers the ability to order up their power of choice is a novel idea, but should not displace a strong renewable energy standard. Reviewing U.S. EPA rules sounds ominous.
CNG+alternative fuels. The governor wants to develop regional Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) refueling stations infrastructure and promote the usage of CNG vehicles in Ohio, assess converting all or part of the state vehicle fleet to CNG and develop a loan fund for alternative fuels (CNG, biodiesel and ethanol). Green comment: These are cleaner fuels, compared to gasoline and standard diesel fuel. Kasich is right to promote them.
Workforce training. Kasich is proposing $6 million to construct new training space at Zane State College and another $10 million to build an indoor drilling training rig at Stark State College to build a skilled workforce for the shale gas industry. Other proposals include a website linking Ohio companies with a trained workforce and linking veterans and minorities with oil and gas jobs. Green comment: This governor ain’t taking his foot off the gas to enable the oil and gas industry.
Electricity transmission + distribution. The plan calls for a review of Ohio’s miles and miles of electric transmission lines and power substations to step up the cheap and efficient delivery of electric power. In particular, it encourages state regulators to review the adequacy of transmission infrastructure to better serve two polar opposite, emerging energy industries: the shale gas industry and the renewable energy industry. Green comment: Classic Kasich—help the shale gas industry (his primary interest) while throwing in a goodie for green energy, too (a secondary interest). We can’t help but note the irony of having to string new electric wires to help get all that gas and oil to market. But don’t sell short the importance of helping get wind and solar energy on the grid, either.
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Where Does the Deficiency Begin?<p>Nobody knows exactly how much vitamin D a person actually needs. The question of when a deficiency starts is correspondingly controversial. However, vitamin D is becoming increasingly popular.Not only is the pseudo-scientific literature on the "sun vitamin" experiencing an upswing, but the number of published studies has also increased enormously in recent years. For example, in 2019 <a href="https://academic.oup.com/edrv/article/40/4/1109/5126915" target="_blank">a study found that</a> Vitamin D is responsible for keeping the skeleton functional and is associated with cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes and various types of cancer. <br></p>
An All-Rounder<p>Vitamin D levels in the body rise and fall according to sun exposure. If sufficient UV rays reach the skin, the body is able to produce the vitamin itself. However, the human body only derives an estimated 10 to 20 percent of its daily requirement from food.</p><p>The vitamin D that we synthesize from sunlight or food is not biologically active at first. Before the kidneys can produce the biologically active form of the vitamin, known as calcitriol, and release it into the blood, some metabolic processes must take place beforehand.</p><p>In addition, many organs have receptors to which the precursor of calcitriol binds. Further, this substance is also present in blood.</p><p>From this precursor, the organs then produce calcitriol themselves, which the body then uses for countless other processes in the body. This form of vitamin D thus regulates insulin secretion, inhibits tumor growth, and promotes the formation of red blood cells as well as the survival and activity of macrophages, which are important for the <a href="https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/5/7/2502/htm" target="_blank">immune system.</a></p>
Low Vitamin D, Severe COVID-19 Disease?<p>A research study carried out <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2352364620300067?via%3Dihub" target="_blank">at the University of Hohenheim</a> has now established a link between vitamin D deficiency, certain previous diseases, and severe cases of COVID-19.</p><p>According to the study, "there is a lot of evidence that several non-communicable diseases (high blood pressure, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, metabolic syndrome) are associated with low vitamin D plasma levels. These comorbidities, together with the often accompanying vitamin D deficiency, increase the risk of severe COVID-19 events."</p><p>"This statement is completely correct," said Martin Fassnacht, head of endocrinology at the University Hospital of Würzburg. However, he qualifies that it is a pure association, "i.e. a mere observation that these events occur together.</p><p>Dr. Fassnacht is very critical of the hype surrounding vitamin D, but not because he denies the vitamin serves important functions. However, studies on humans have not been able to show that vitamin D has the healing powers many often propagate.</p><p>Fassnacht says, "If you take a closer look, the hopes that the administration of vitamin D has a healing effect have not been confirmed so far."</p>
Association Versus Intervention Studies<p>Many studies on the vitamin are association or observational studies. "By definition, these studies cannot prove the causal relationship, but only point to mere correlations," said Fassnacht. The physician tries to illustrate this with an example:</p><p>"Imagine two groups of 80-year-olds. One group is spry, active and does sports. If you compare them with another group living in nursing homes, the difference in vitamin D levels will be dramatic. Life expectancy would also be extremely different."</p><p>But to try to explain the difference in fitness by vitamin D status alone is far too simplistic. "Vitamin D levels are a good measure of how sick someone is. But not more," says Fassnacht. </p><p>According to Fassnacht, none of the intervention studies carried out to date -- that specifically examined the effect of vitamin D on various diseases -- has been able to confirm the previous association and laboratory studies or the presumed positive effect of vitamin D.</p>
Further Research Is Needed<p>"If a coronavirus infection is suspected, it is therefore absolutely necessary to check the vitamin D status and quickly correct any possible deficit," said the recommendation of the paper published by the University of Hohenheim.</p><p>"Studies are underway to see whether vitamin D helps in COVID-19 infection, but I personally do not believe that this is really the case," says endocrinologist Fassnacht. Nevertheless, he says it is of course useful to carry out these studies.<br></p><p>"I don't want to rule out that there are actually subgroups of people who benefit from an additional vitamin D dose," he says. After all, this has been proven to be the case with a severe deficit.</p><p>In view of the study situation, Fassnacht does not think much of preventive, nationwide vitamin D substitutes. "My belief that the vitamin helps somewhere is very low. But, of course, I can be wrong."</p>
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