Will Ohio Gov. Kasich's Anti-Green Resume Kill His Presidential Hopes?
The latest politician to leap toward the GOP nomination is widely known as America’s most anti-green governor. But he has a critical decision coming up that could help change that.
Kasich scrapped energy program that created jobs and saved consumers $230 million http://t.co/Ev5Ys1sLjg
— Daily Kos (@dailykos) July 21, 2015
When he took office in 2011, he opened fire by killing a $400 million federal grant to restore passenger rail service between Cleveland, Columbus, Dayton and Cincinnati.
Columbus is the largest capital city in the western world that people cannot get to by train. It also has no internal commuter rail, making it what some have called “the mid-sized town technology forgot.”
The rail grant had been painstakingly crafted over the better part of a decade by a broad bi-partisan coalition. It was poised to create hundreds of jobs and provide new opportunity for a number of small towns languishing along the restoration route.
The son of a postal worker, Kasich has long touted “jobs, jobs, jobs” as his trademark commitment. The polls were very tight just prior to Ohio’s 2010 election when a check for $1 million came into his campaign chest from Rupert Murdoch, owner of Fox TV, where Kasich had anchored a commentary show. Between his time as a U.S. Congressman and the governor’s race, Kasich amassed a personal fortune by selling junk bonds to government pension funds.
Upon entering the statehouse in 2011 he sent the $400 million rail grant back to the feds with stunning contempt. There were no public hearings, no legislative debates, no discussion with Ohioans who had labored for years to bring the money into the state.
Kasich then attacked renewable energy. Under previous Gov. Ted Strickland, a bi-partisan coalition had constructed one of America’s most successful green power packages. Major wind farms involving some $2 billion in invested capital were poised to pour into northern Ohio.
Wind turbines can be especially profitable in the corridor just south of Lake Erie. The fertile farmland is flat, the breezes are steady, there are plenty of transmission lines and the power can be generated relatively close to urban areas like Toledo, Canton, Cleveland and Akron. Thousands of jobs and radically reduced electric rates were set to revive Ohio’s gutted industrial economy.
A $50 million solar farm was also slated for the southern part of the state. Businesses specializing in rooftop installations were thriving.
Kasich killed all that. Last year he signed a bill gutting the green power plan pending two years of “further study.”
He then drove a stake through the heart of Ohio’s wind-powered future. Again with no public hearings or debate, Kasich slipped into law draconian restrictions on the spacing of wind turbines. For no apparent reason other than to kill the wind industry, the bill mandates extreme siting distances from property lines and buildings, which makes commercial turbine development a virtual impossibility in the Buckeye State. And, Kasich has made Ohio the dumping grounds for fracking wastewater.
Yet even that doesn’t quite end the tragedy of Kasich’s epic energy fail.
The infamous Davis-Besse nuke at Oak Harbor, near Toledo, has been uneconomical for years. It’s recognized worldwide as one of Earth’s most dangerously decrepit reactors. Boric acid once ate through all but one-eighth's inch of its pressure vessel, nearly causing a Chernobyl on Lake Erie. Its shield wall is crumbling, as is its overall infrastructure. Old age, mismanagement and corporate greed have left it, among other things, with a number of actual holes poked through its containment dome. Similar shenanigans recently forced the final shut-down of the Crystal River reactor in Florida.
Fifteen years ago the owners of Davis-Besse and the Perry reactor, east of Cleveland, took some $9 billion from Ohio ratepayers to refurbish the two failing nukes in preparation for a “free market” in energy. Cincinnati-based economist Ned Ford has shown that siphoning off that money has helped cripple the industrial economy of northern Ohio.
Today neither nuke can compete with gas and renewables. So FirstEnergy, Davis-Besse’s Akron-based owner, wants the Ohio Public Utilities Commission to gouge $3 billion more from ratepayers to keep Davis-Besse and its 50-year-old Sammis coal burner in operation, even though neither can compete on the open market.
The proposed bailout has sparked anger throughout the state. Most of Ohio’s large commercial and industrial energy users oppose the plan, along with the core of the state’s consumer and environmental communities. Demonstrations at the PUCO have been well-attended and Ohio’s biggest home newspaper—the Cleveland Plain-Dealer—has editorialized against the bail-out.
As a result of public pressure, the PUCO has repeatedly postponed its decision.
Nor has the governor yet weighed in.
But Kasich will ultimately have to be heard on an issue that could decide the state’s financial and industrial future. For Ohio’s teetering economy, sinking yet another $3 billion into obsolete fossil/nuke burners would be suicidal. Germany, California and other advanced powers are now transition into a future defined by green power. If Kasich continues to steer Ohio away, the state is doomed to obsolescence and decline.
Technically the issue is the Public Utilities Commission’s to decide. But Kasich is well positioned to become at least the GOP’s Vice-Presidential nominee. Ohio is always a key swing state, making the governor a valuable geographic asset.
As a candidate, where he stands on the future of energy will be heavily scrutinized. Thus far he seems firmly in the Kochcamp, supporting the billionaire brothers’ attacks on any energy source that threatens their gargantuan investments in obsolete fossil fuels/nukes.
Should that carry over into support for the extremely unpopular Davis-Besse bailout, Gov. Kasich’s already extensive anti-green resume could cause him serious problems as the 2016 presidential campaign progresses.
YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE
A "trash tsunami" has washed ashore on the beaches of Honduras, endangering both wildlife and the local economy.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
More long-finned pilot whales were found stranded today on beaches in Tasmania, Australia. About 500 whales have become stranded, including at least 380 that have died, the AP reported. It is the largest mass stranding in Australia's recorded history.
- Annual Whale Slaughter Still a Tradition on the Faroe Islands ... ›
- Hundreds of Pilot Whales Die in Devastating Mass Stranding in New ... ›
- Green Group Tests Facebook With Ad Claiming Conservatives Back ... ›
- Illegal Wildlife Trade Thrives on Facebook, Internet Forums ... ›
- Facebook Loophole Allows Climate Deniers to Spread Misinformation ›
- Facebook Hires Koch-Funded Climate Deniers for 'Fact-Checking ... ›
By Harry Kretchmer
By 2030, almost a third of all the energy consumed in the European Union must come from renewable sources, according to binding targets agreed in 2018. Sweden is helping lead the way.
Sweden is a world leader in renewable energy consumption. Swedish Institute/World Bank
Naturally Warm<p>54% of Sweden's power comes from renewables, and is helped by its geography. With plenty of moving water and 63% forest cover, it's no surprise the <a href="https://sweden.se/nature/energy-use-in-sweden/#" target="_blank">two largest renewable power sources</a> are hydropower and biomass. And that biomass is helping support a local energy boom.</p><p>Heating is a key use of energy in a cold country like Sweden. In recent decades, as fuel oil taxes have increased, the country's power companies have turned to renewables, like biomass, to fuel local 'district heating' plants.</p><p>In Sweden these trace their <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360544217304140#fig3" target="_blank">origins back to 1948</a>, when a power station's excess heat was first used to heat nearby buildings: steam is <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/engineering/district-heating-system" target="_blank">forced along a network of pipes</a> to wherever it's needed. Today, there are around 500 district heating systems across the country, from major cities to small villages, providing heat to homes and businesses.</p><p>District heating used to be fueled mainly from the <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360544217304140" target="_blank">by-products of power plants</a>, waste-to-energy plants and industrial processes. These days, however, Sweden is bringing more renewable sources into the mix. And as a result of competition, this localized form of power is now the country's<a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360544217304140#fig3" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"> home-heating market leader.</a></p>
Sweden is using smart grids to turn buildings into energy producers. Huang et al/Elsevier
Energy ‘Prosumers’<p>But Sweden doesn't stop at village-level heating solutions. Its new breed of energy-generation takes hyper-local to the next level.</p><p>One example is in the city of Ludivika where 1970s flats <a href="https://www.buildup.eu/sites/default/files/content/transforming-a-residential-building-cluster-into-electricity-prosumers-in-sweden.pdf" target="_blank">have recently been retrofitted with the latest smart energy technology</a>.</p><p>48 family apartments spread across 3 buildings have been given photovoltaic solar panels, thermal energy storage and heat pump systems. A micro energy grid connects it all, and helps charge electric cars overnight.</p><p>The result is a cluster of 'prosumer' buildings, producing rather than consuming enough power for 77% of residents' needs. With <a href="http://www.diva-portal.org/smash/get/diva2:1232060/FULLTEXT01.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">high levels of smart meter usage</a>, it's a model that looks set to spread across Sweden.</p>
<div id="d7bf9" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="8757b138d5570bec9d6aad18074a429a"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1273556364263071744" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">Read more about Western Harbour and book a visit: https://t.co/ujSmVs9rNK 🏡🌳🌊 https://t.co/C5PuPziqIM</div> — Smart City Sweden (@Smart City Sweden)<a href="https://twitter.com/SmartCitySweden/statuses/1273556364263071744">1592474473.0</a></blockquote></div>
Scaling Up<p>A recent development by E.ON in Hyllie, a district on the outskirts of Malmö, southern Sweden, <a href="https://www.eonenergy.com/blog/2019/February/sweden-smart-city" target="_blank">has scaled up the smart grid principle</a>. Energy generation comes from local wind, solar, biomass and waste sources.</p><p>Smart grids then balance the power, react to the weather, deploying extra power when it's colder or putting excess into battery storage when it's warm. The system is not only more efficient, but bills have fallen.</p><p>Smart energy developments like those in Hyllie, Ludivika, and renewable-driven district heating, offer a radical alternative to the centralized energy systems many countries rely on today.</p><p>The EU's leaders have a challenge: how to generate 32% of energy from renewables by 2030. Sweden offers a vision of how technology and local solutions can turn a goal into a reality.</p>
- Sweden to Become One of World's First Fossil Fuel-Free Nation s ... ›
- These Countries Are Leading the Transition to Sustainable Energy ... ›
- Sweden Shuts Down Its Last Coal Plant Two Years Early - EcoWatch ›
By Jessica Corbett
In another win for climate campaigners, leaders of 12 major cities around the world — collectively home to about 36 million people — committed Tuesday to divesting from fossil fuel companies and investing in a green, just recovery from the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
- Oxford Endowment Ditches Fossil Fuels in 'Historic' Decision ... ›
- Fossil Fuel Divestment Debates on Campus Spotlight Societal Role ... ›
- London and New York Mayors Call on Other World Cities to Divest ... ›