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Don’t keep Ohio’s commitment to clean energy on ice too long



Published: Mon, June 16, 2014 @ 12:00 a.m.

When Ohio Gov. John Kasich signed Senate Bill 310 into law last Friday, he also charged up a powerful and acidic battery of opposition from many fronts. Consumer groups, environmental causes and health organizations have been forceful and fiery in their hostility toward the legislation that freezes energy-efficiency mandates and renewable-energy goals at this year’s levels until at least 2017.

“This reckless step backward gives Ohioans fewer energy choices, fewer jobs and dirtier air,” David Scott, board president of the National Sierra Club, decried.

The American Lung Association is equally outraged. “By preventing any further clean- energy progress, this legislation will unnecessarily leave millions of Ohio citizens at risk from the negative health effects related to additional power-plant emissions,” the group said in a statement.

In freezing the mandates, Ohio has distinguished itself as the only state in the union where a governor has signed into law a moratorium on clean-energy goals. The 2008 law enacted standards that gave Ohio utilities until 2025 to slash customers’ power usage by 22 percent and get 25 percent of their power from renewable and advanced-technology sources.

That dubious distinction does not seem to faze the state’s largest utilities, however, including Akron-based FirstEnergy.

“FirstEnergy is pleased that Ohio took a positive step toward reforming the state’s costly energy-efficiency and renewable energy mandates,’’ the company said in a statement.

Clearly the battle lines are drawn. To lessen the sting of this contentious debate, all parties involved ought to cool their jets, face realities and strive toward productive compromise.

UNDERSTANDING UTILITIES’ PERSPECTIVE

In fairness to the utilities, time and circum- stance have intruded on their ability to meet the mandates.

Who would have thought back in 2008 that the state and nation would soon be reeling from the effects of the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression of the 1930s? The ongoing adverse impact of the Great Recession has hurt utility companies hard and forced them to focus most of their attention on simply surviving the economic chaos it wrought.

Also since 2008, the price of natural gas has fallen to record lows thanks in part to vast new drilling fields in Ohio, the scope of which could never have been predicted six years ago. The impact of that addition to the state’s energy portfolio never was factored into the original standards.

There’s also unresolved questions of cost. Both sides claim their opponent’s positions would raise rates for consumers.

These and other questions and issues demand close scrutiny. One redeeming factor of Senate Bill 310 is that it creates a legislative study committee whose goal it is to recommend revisions to the standards no later than September 2015.

Also encouraging is that Bruce Weston, leader of the Ohio Consumers Counsel citizen watchdog group, will have a seat on that panel. Although OCC had opposed SB 310, Weston said he is looking forward to working with the study committee toward crafting viable standards.

We’ll be counting on Weston to ensure the committee stays on track and committed to its task. Toward those ends, the committee should organize quickly, study the myriad issues intently and come up with reasonable legislative proposals that will chart a realistic course for Ohioans to lessen their dependency on traditional energy sources.

At all costs, the committee must not become a smokescreen that gives only the appearance of commitment to renewable energy. Proposals to permanently revoke any and all alternative-energy goals should be off the table from the get-go.

After all, Ohio can ill afford to join the shrinking minority of states that have little or no long-term vision toward lessening reliance on fossil-based energy sources.


Comments

1NoBS(2004 comments)posted 6 months ago

That's OK - Kasich will just take more from public employees, and from public schools, local governments, state universities, and all the other "cash cows" in the state.

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2steivo(540 comments)posted 6 months ago

This should not have just postponed until 2017, it should have gotten he government out of renewable energy forever and let the market place determine how to fuel our energy needs.

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3lajoci(374 comments)posted 6 months ago

Sorry, baggers.

The so-called "market-place" got us into this mess in the first place, since fossil fuels now MONOPOLIZE the entire energy production and distribution infrastructure.

Matter of fact, the whole purpose of treating "public utilities" as controlled monopolies regarding energy production and delivery evolved precisely because the so-called "market-place" never could (and never will be able to) regulate the energy industry.

But, of course, the libertarian baggers want to de-regulate, now that the fossil-fuel-favoring infrastructure (the development of which was aided and abetted by public resources and funds) is so deeply entrenched that alternative fuels have no chance in the artificially created "market-place."

The only solution is to subsidize alternative fuel development on par with fossil-fuel industry subsidies -- to truly level the playing field, so that we all have a chance at life in a cleaner world.

Because, Lord knows, the fossil-fuel industry (like the steel and chemical industries before them) will never clean up the messes they make in the course of doing their business.

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4steivo(540 comments)posted 6 months ago

I have a better idea. Let the consumer decide which form of energy to use instead of the government. Those of us who would like to heat their houses with solar energy can install solar panels and those of us who would just like to be left alone can heat their houses as they choose. If someone wants to ride a bicycle to work or run their cars on wind power, have at it. Those of us who want to drive their SUV to work they can have at it too.

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5tnmartin(306 comments)posted 6 months ago

There is almost nothing that government involvement can't make worse. Generally, MUCH worse. The only legitimate approach is to determine that some things are just None Of Your Business, shortened to "nunya"
This entire issue is a pretty good example of what should be a nunya.
Protestations from the Sierra Club only confirm my suspicion on that: in more than 40 years of observation, I've almost never known them to be right on matters they screech about, and almost always to be wrong. I'm sure a good response by them has crept in somewhere along the line, but surely can't recall one.
That being the case, this effort to delay the matter is a half-step in the right direction. A total abandonment of the matter would have been far better.

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6lajoci(374 comments)posted 6 months ago

Prior to the emergence of the EPA, used medical waste (syringes, etc.) were washing up on New Jersey beaches.

Before the EPA was established, companies regularly DUMPED toxic chemicals on the ground, or used rivers and streams as their own personal waste disposal facilities.

I took a ride up the Cuyahoga River on the Goodtime II back in the 70's -- the tour guide bragged about how companies along the river (Sherwin-Williams, Dow Chemical, Inland Steel) "borrowed" water from the river to clean and cool their machinery, and then returned it to the river when they were done.

Hello-o-o-o-o Baggers!

The government, specifically the EPA, stopped these and many other environment-befoulling practices.

The government forced polluting businesses to clean up after themselves.

NO AMOUNT of libertarian neo-laissez-faire wishful thinking ever forced a polluting business to clean up after itself.

Never happened -- never will.

The libertarian baggers think that businesses have a natural-born, All-American right to contaminate the air and water we all depend upon, and that it's nobody else's business what they do.

I say "Hogwash!" all you baggers!

Pollution is totally the EPA's job!

That's what the EPA does -- it forces polluting businesses to follow that basic rule we all learn in kindergarten: clean up after yourself!

What's wrong with that?

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7tnmartin(306 comments)posted 6 months ago

allow me to introduce you to a term. The term is "mission creep". And mission creep is precisely what EPA, as well as virtually every other regulatory agency and nearly every level of government, falls into. It is seen when the operation takes on a life of its own, irrespective of any original charter and understanding. And, while little intramural jockeying contests among the paper-pushers is not exactly unknown even in industry, and I've seen it in several such as ITT and GM and others -- there is there some sort of limitations based on cost/benefit.analysis. Not perfect, but works pretty well.
Now another term: "Iron Rule of Bureaucracy", with credit to Dr. Jerry Pournelle, and it goes like "in any bureaucratic organization there will be two kinds of people":
First, there will be those who are devoted to the goals of the organization. Examples are dedicated classroom teachers in an educational bureaucracy, many of the engineers and launch technicians and scientists at NASA, even some agricultural scientists and advisors in the former Soviet Union collective farming administration.
Secondly, there will be those dedicated to the organization itself. Examples are many of the administrators in the education system, many professors of education, many teachers union officials, much of the NASA headquarters staff, etc.
The Iron Law states that in every case the second group will gain and keep control of the organization. It will write the rules, and control promotions within the organization."
--
What we have, and have been having, from EPA is people seeking status in the organization and approval from their peers, out seeking new dragons to slay.. Every issue, or imagined one, is elevated out of all proportion, and can of course only be remedied by draconian measures orchestrated by -- guess who?- the "champion" of the issue. All to be accomplished by unelected, largely unaccountable, and generally anonymous swivel-chair hussars with delusions of adequacy.
If a particular matter is in truth such a Big Deal, then address it at as low a level as possible, and by specific LEGISLATION, argued and voted by known and ELECTED legislators, agreed to by the appropriate ELECTED executive. Not through the current system which is altogether too much like a midnight meeting of the NKVD.

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8lajoci(374 comments)posted 6 months ago

So, you hate the status-seekers and dragon-slayers and bureaucratic feather-bedders and sand-baggers so much that you'd rather go back to the days of burning rivers and syringes on the beaches and chemical fish-kills and smog advisories?

Maybe it's nunna-my bidness, but somehow, I don't think a burning river or a beach full of used syringes can be elevated out of all proportion. But hey! That's just my personal opinion.

That what you advocate? Micro-managing every burning river? Putting every syringe-littered beach up to a vote? Polling the locals to see if they care whether the aquifer is poisoned or not? Hey! You know! Fair-and-balanced! Maybe some folks LIKE syringe-littered beaches and burning rivers and poisoned aquifers!

Here's my IRON RULE of SURVIVAL: your business pumps toxins into the air I breathe, now it's not "nunya" anymore! Now it IS my business!

And just as much as it IS MY BUSINESS that you poison the air I breathe, so too it IS MY BUSINESS when you poison the water I rely on, and the very soil on which I trod.

For watching over these things, so vital to my survival, I thank God for the EPA!

Your libertarian, laissez-faire approach to a clean, safe environment never worked, and never will, because too many of the profit-crazed captains of industry never learned what they should have learned in KINDERGARTEN -- clean up your mess!

Simple concept! We need an EPA to force compliance with kindergarten rules!

(Sheeeeesh . . .)

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9tnmartin(306 comments)posted 6 months ago

ahh. Yes, that whole "freedom" thing is just too inconvenient to the True Believers, is that it? Yes, no doubt that whole 1776 thing (and several since) was just a big mistake. Yes, obviously it's much better to have the barons ... I mean kings ... umm, how about dictators ......
Perhaps not.
Perhaps, yes, it's much better to have some nameless deputy undersecretary assistant to the co-chair of the third chief directorate of some mysterious alphabet agency be in charge of it all.
Yes, of course. Should have been obvious.
Sir, it you wish to be an ant in an anthill, you have my permission, indeed my sincere blessings.
But that is NOT how free citizens in the United States of America expect things to be. The term "self-governing" has real meaning, a meaning that used to be pretty widely understood. Evidently your education has been somewhat deficient is some respects. 'Tis a pity.
I repeat, if some of these matters are so vital, then let us examine them openly and have the matters addressed through legislation. Like they are supposed to be. And FIRE immediately and with extreme prejudice these agency apparatchiks. Do it today yet.
The whole thing reminds me of a junkie, needing more and more and yet more of the white powder to get the same "high" that once was achieved with less. Mission creep will do that.

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10lajoci(374 comments)posted 6 months ago

No freedom for anyone without rules.

EPA regulations actually preserve our freedom to breathe clean air and drink clean water.

Can't get more basic than that.

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11tnmartin(306 comments)posted 6 months ago

rules are important, and on that there is no disagreement. It is the scope of those rules, and the means by which they are established, that is the matter of dispute. We have a system of governance, it's not terribly complicated. And NO PART of it authorizes rule by bureaucrat. No part.
I repeat, if a matter is that important, then let us establish the matter by the normal, constitutional, legislative means. All done openly with accountability.
Not behind closed doors by unelected and unaccountable bureaucrats, all too many (and I've encountered several) who are perhaps well-intentioned, but always intent on minding other people's business. There is a quote to the effect that a tyranny set up for putatively noble purposes may be the worst kind as the tyrant's sense of Nobel Purpose prevents any limitations.
We fought several wars to avoid rule by such. I see no excuse to adopt the same thing hidden under other names.
and as an aside, I'm not a fan of pollution either, and have strong and close up memories of the problems on the Mahoning, Cuyahoga, and Monongahela valley areas. We're not in opposition to improving it. But there is also a recognition that ever since the first plow cut the earth or the first tree branches made a fire, humans have affected the habitat. But so does a dog "marking" its territory or a beaver making a lodge. One is no worse than the other. Just different.

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12steivo(540 comments)posted 6 months ago

Iajoci,
How do you heat your home and what type of car do you drive?

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13lajoci(374 comments)posted 6 months ago

Why does a discussion of broad, societal, policy issues always devolve into questions of personal motives with you Tea-baggers?

Would the fact that I drive a car or have a furnace somehow render invalid my opinions on what we as a society should be doing environmentally?

Would you like to jump up and down clapping your hands and laughing at my car and my furnace as you proclaim my hypocrisy for advocating for clean water and air?

Seriously?

The coal and oil industries have pretty much locked up the energy infrastructure in this country and most of the world. We need to change that, or we (and our offspring) will suffer the consequences.

I would gladly give up my "freedom" (and yours) to poison the air and water for a chance at a cleaner environment for me and future generations.

I don't "love" internal combustion engines; I have no sentimental attachment to the machines they power, no nostalgic longing for the good old days of gas guzzling muscle-cars, their engines roaring on 3- gallons-for-a-dollar gas -- those days are gone, and the few left-over energy-tycoons who benefitted from our self-indulgence are now fighting tooth-and-nail to support policies that will protect their interests, to the detriment of society as a whole.

It may take a generation or two, but change will come; the only question is will America lead the way, or will we follow the Chinese?

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14steivo(540 comments)posted 6 months ago

Duck, Deflect, and Deny. It is much easier than that to answer the question. I will go first - I heat my home with natural gas and I drive a compact 4 cylinder car.

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15lajoci(374 comments)posted 6 months ago

Who cares what you drive? Who cares how you heat your home?

Seriously, what choices do you have?

That's my whole point -- the system is RIGGED in favor of fossil fuel industries.

We need to UN-rig it so renewables have a chance.

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16steivo(540 comments)posted 6 months ago

That is all left wing propoganda. Let me try this from another angle. Do you drive an 8 cylinder SUV and do you heat your home with Solar energy?

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17steivo(540 comments)posted 6 months ago

Erplane,
What kind of car do you drive and how do you heat your home?

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18steivo(540 comments)posted 6 months ago

Instead of worrying about removing the last speck of dust from the air and designating every last mud puddle as a wetland and then worrying if there might be a snail darter in one of the mud puddles, we should be developing the energy sources right beneath our feet so that we can heat our homes and power our cars,

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19tnmartin(306 comments)posted 6 months ago

it's not a matter of "locked in use of fossil fuels". Coal and oil and natural gas were themselves replacements for things like wood. Wood was - and in places still is - augmented by burning dung. You interested in cooking over a pig manure fire? Me neither.
Personally, I'm in favor of electric heat, the electricity generated in nuclear plants. But since the hysterical enviro-nazi idiots have about shut that down, shutting down a Vallery factory that once employed hundreds, then the generation of electricity means natural gas or coal-fired. We don't have quite enough chicken manure to fire one, though one suspects that if the amount generated at meetings of the local Dhimmicrat Party were collected, part of the gap might be made up.
Anyway, the amount of BTU's needed to provide for heat and light and food prep and storage of a typical home or office are calculable, perhaps you can make an estimate of how much total is needed just in the Tri-County area, and then explain to us how you will generate the requisite energy during a January night in a snow storm. I await the results with great anticipation. take a bunch of squirrels in little cages, that's sure.
While we're at it, complaining about other persons asking unwanted questions is a bit rich, coming immediately after using vile and disgusting language ("teabaggers") to insult anyone who is not A True Believer in the massive FRAUD of CAGW (Catastrophic Anthropogenic Globull Warming)..
Let us take a moment as well

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20walter_sobchak(1979 comments)posted 6 months ago

tnmartin,
You point out the biggest issue with the EPA and its "mission creep". The organization is a monster that is no longer able to be controlled by normal means. Nobody wants the air and water to be used as a toilet again but most of the recent rules are not attainable. The whole concept of "renewable energy" is bogus since energy cannot be created nor destroyed. It becomes less useful the more we use it however. These are laws of thermodynamics that most just don't want to accept. So, if we don't use the energy stored in fossil fuels from millions of years ago, we will need to use nuclear power, which these environmentalists don't want either.

I believe nuclear energy, using small modular reactors, is a key to our future. These reactors can be built in controlled factory conditions and shipped to numerous sites, placed in series, to generate power for a small area. This will, however, require numerous small plants spread out over the country. But, the so-called "green" energy sources do not provide a sufficient quantity of readily available energy. I mean, on average, we only receive 12 hours of sunlight every day and it is not extremely reliable. Electric cars are definitely the future but the ability to store sufficient electricity in the vehicle is key and that hasn't been solved yet. We need a "flux capacitor" to make it viable and we need a method to quickly recharge it. Banana peels and aluminum beer cans won't work.

Our current demand for energy in the world is staggering. This is both on a normal human level for heating, cooking , transportation and industrial, to make the products needed and wanted by mankind. We have progressed forward and nobody wants to chop wood to heat their house or cook over dung fires. I believe the governor make a wise decision to tell these groups that it is going to take a little while longer to enact their rules.

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21republicanRick(1248 comments)posted 6 months ago

If every neighborhood added just two electric cars the need for electricity, from the big power companies, will go up by 30%. They currently do not have the capacity. Thus, new power plants will need to be built. And fueled by what? ... gas, coal, or nuclear?

The obvious answer is nuclear, bacause it is cheap, eco friendly but is SCARY to the eco-nazis that think windmills and flower power will save us.

Every action has a reaction on down the line. Eco-nazis do not understand this and only offer up wishes, not plans.

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