Ohio Senator Legislates to Worsen Air Quality

BY ON September 13, 2011

 Jill Miller ZimonIs there anything lower than an “F” in the commonly accepted report card letter grading system? Because even though that’s the majority of Ohio’s grade for its air as reported by the American Lung Association just last spring, Ohio State Senator, Kris Jordan (R, D19), wants to find out if we can make our kids, elderly, asthmatics and others suffer even more.

First, over a week ago, Jordan announced that he would be introducing legislation to completely repeal the Alternative Energy Portfolio Standard (AEPS) legislation, passed in 2008. The AEPS law does something forward looking, goodness gracious: it requires one-quarter of all electricity sales by Ohio’s utility providers to come from alternative energy sources by 2025, with half of that coming from renewable sources.

Now, why would anyone want to repeal a law that seeks to reduce our dependence on foreign oil, that creates conditions for innovation and job creation and that undoubtedly will improve Ohio’s air quality, given the amount of coal-powered energy production that following the law would replace?

Jordan gives no better reason than the extremely common and constantly being debunked trope that any regulations on any business are bad for jobs and bad for the economy.

Then, on Wednesday, September 7, Jordan introduced Senate Bill 216, which would repeal that renewable energy law which actually provides jobs, improves Ohioans’ health and contributes to the ever so slight improvement that, along with the “F”s, the American Lung Association’s clean air review noted for Ohio. You can read the bill, as introduced, here.

Given that Ohio already receives national recognition for pollution, it’s hard not to harken back to when our beloved Cuyahoga River, in the Northeastern Ohio area of Cleveland, literally burned. If you are too young to recall that catastrophe, this video is an excellent recap and reminder of what happens when we place industry and business above environment and health. From the video’s narration:

Abused and misused by man and his machines….Industry, with an eye on net profit, is reluctant to move with  less than absolute pressure.

Sadly, with elected officials and public servants like Kris Jordan on industry’s side, they now are actually trying to move backwards. (Thank goodness many people did step up to turn around the Cuyahoga.) For photos of the fire, take a look at this short clip.

So, just how radical is Jordan’s repeal effort? Don’t take it from me.

Listen to an Ohio green business woman, advocate and Eco Watch founder and CEO, Stefanie Spear.  Her entire article “Senator Kris Jordan’s Outlier Effort Would Put Ohioans Out of Work,  is absolutely worth reading but here is something just stunning and in the category of, “I knew I wasn’t crazy”:

Clean energy advocates are baffled by the strange, outlier legislation [introduced by Jordan].

“In his effort to repeal Ohio’s clean energy standard, the sponsor is looking to kill the one part of Ohio’s economy that is working. We believe that once he researches the extraordinary success of the clean energy industry in Ohio he’ll withdrawal this short-sighted, ideologically-driven legislation.”

Lawmakers approved Ohio’s clean energy standard by 125-1 margin in 2008. The standard was part of a larger bill restructuring Ohio’s electric retail marketplace, proposed by former Gov. Ted Strickland. The General Assembly, as today, was controlled by Republicans at the time.

“Republicans and Democrats worked together to pass Ohio’s standard on a 125-1 vote,” said Kaiser. “Ohio is beginning to enjoy the jobs and economic dividends of that effort. Maybe that’s why Senator Jordan could muster only two co-sponsors for his bill from the 33-member Ohio Senate. But it doesn’t explain why the Senator wants to kill this emerging Ohio industry.” [bold emphasis added]

Unbelievable in Ohio to have 125 out of 126 of our General Assembly elected officials agree. On this very thing that Jordan seeks to undo not even three years later. What, indeed, is it all about? I can tell you that I’ve looked at his campaign finance reports and there’s a nice smattering of money (totaling in at least the thousands) from the oil, gas, coal and electric power industry. You can search here yourself (put the name in as “jordan, kris”).

The Ohio Environmental Council also details how Jordan’s bill will kill, kill, kill jobs – and, we can guess, a few people too as a result of the unleashing of less clean energy production.

It should be noted that Jordan continues to rely on information from the American Tradition Institute, an organization that is challenging environmental regulations across the country (check out this lawsuit the group has filed in Colorado against that state’s renewable energy policy and this Change.org petition titled, Stop The American Tradition’s Institute’s Vendetta Against Climate Science – never a good sign to have Change.org gathering signatures against you).

Even the utilities in Ohio that might benefit marginally from Jordan’s reactionary action are unsettled because of the investments they are making in meeting the AEPS law. From the Columbus Dispatch:

Jordan’s proposal “couldn’t have come at a worse time,” Kaiser said, noting that several companies are considering whether to bring renewable-energy manufacturing to Ohio. A key part of that decision is whether the state will have a robust market fueled by the current renewable-energy standards, he said.

American Electric Power has invested in several projects to meet the requirements of the renewable-energy standard. The largest is the proposed Turning Point Solar array in Noble County, which, at 50 megawatts, would be by far the largest project of its type in the state.

“Having diversity in (power sources) is a good thing,” said Terri Flora, a spokeswoman for AEP Ohio, speaking in general because she has not reviewed the new legislation. “Yes, it’s expensive, but there is room for diversity in a fuel portfolio.”

The same article quotes other Republican political leaders, including Ohio Governor John Kasich, as sounding far less than enthused about Jordan’s desire to enter the energy way-back machine. Hopefully, that portends of at least a debate and hopefully a defeat of his bill.

It’s not even as if Ohio is forging some new path in greening itself either, though there’s no question that efforts are being pursued. But in addition to the “F” grade from the lung association, Ohio also owns the moniker of the least green state in the country. And, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, many states have or are in the process of taking action that is the exact opposite of the action Kris Jordan wants to take in Ohio. Just take a look at this chart of the green tax incentives states are offering and this one about the state taxes placed on products and processes that have an environmental risk. Yo. Kris. You are going the wrong way.

Please. Please contact your representatives to be sure they do not eye or follow the trend that many political elects and candidates are seeking to advance and which would turn back all the gains being made to find cleaner, renewable energy. If you are in Ohio, contact Senator Jordan or your state Senator, and let him or her know how you feel. You can find their information here.

I’m going to inquire with my State Senator, Tom Patton, whom I have respected for a long time, to learn more about why he is supporting this repeal effort by co-sponsoring it. I urge you to do the same.



TOPICS: Coal, Economics, Mercury Poisoning, Ohio, Politics, Pollution, Renewable Energy