The war against renewable energy just claimed its first victory in Ohio

A new law represents a major win for the Koch brothers and the fossil fuel industry

Topics: Ohio, renewable energy, The Koch Brothers, fossil fuels, Green energy, Gov. John Kasich, , ,

The war against renewable energy just claimed its first victory in OhioWind turbine in downtown Cleveland, Ohio (Credit: Henryk Sadura/Shutterstocks)

While the rest of the country moves to embrace cheaper, cleaner energy, Ohio is about to make a major leap backward. The state House of Representatives approved a bill late Wednesday that will roll back its renewable energy standard (RES) — effectively voting in favor of fossil fuels.

The bill, SB 310, freezes mandates requiring utilities to add clean alternative to their energy mix for two years. By 2025, per the original RES, 25 percent of their power was supposed to come from sources like wind, solar and clean coal production. The bill already passed the Senate, and Gov. John R. Kasich is expected to sign it into law.

It’s as bad as it sounds: The New York Times is calling it the first victory for opponents of the government policies that have helped spur the growth of renewable energy — opponents like Ohio’s coal-dominated utility, whose CEO bemoaned the fact that such regulations, by driving down energy demand, are bad for business, and like the Koch brothers, who have been backing efforts to roll back renewable-friendly policies in states across the country. Their success in Ohio sets a worrisome precedent.

Ohio voters, it’s important to note, are strongly in favor of clean energy standards: According to one survey, they demonstrate “overwhelming support for requiring utilities to incent energy efficiency, and for obtaining more of their electricity from renewable energy sources.” Even the politically conservative Ohio Manufacturers’ Association is against the bill, arguing that it “will drive up electricity costs for customers and undermine manufacturing competitiveness in Ohio.”



Since the RES was passed, almost unanimously, back in 2008, clean energy in Ohio provided 25,000 jobs and at least $1 billion in private sector investment, ClimateProgress reports, cutting electricity rates by 1.4 percent, or over $230 million in cumulative savings. But the political landscape has changed drastically since then, into one dominated by partisan politics. Here’s more from the Times on that sad state of affairs:

Since 2013, more than a dozen states have taken up proposals to weaken or eliminate green energy mandates and incentives, often helped by conservative and libertarian policy or advocacy groups like the Heartland InstituteAmericans for Prosperity and the American Legislative Exchange Council.

In Kansas, for example, lawmakers recently defeated a bill that would have phased out the state’s renewable energy mandates, but its backers have vowed to propose it again.

…Gabe Elsner, executive director of the Energy and Policy Institute, a pro-renewables group that sees efforts to weaken incentives and mandates as part of a campaign by utility and fossil fuel interests, said the temporary halt could do away with the law entirely.

“The fossil fuel and utility industry has been caught off guard by the rise of cheap, clean energy, and over the past 18 months they’ve responded in a really big way across the country,” he said. “We’re seeing the results of that campaign now in Ohio.”

Lindsay Abrams

Lindsay Abrams is a staff writer at Salon, reporting on all things sustainable. Follow her on Twitter @readingirl, email labrams@salon.com.

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 11
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails
    Burger King Japan

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Burger King's black cheeseburger: Made with squid ink and bamboo charcoal, arguably a symbol of meat's destructive effect on the planet. Only available in Japan.

    Elite Daily/Twitter

    2014's fast food atrocities

    McDonald's Black Burger: Because the laws of competition say that once Burger King introduces a black cheeseburger, it's only a matter of time before McDonald's follows suit. You still don't have to eat it.

    Domino's

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Domino's Specialty Chicken: It's like regular pizza, except instead of a crust, there's fried chicken. The company's marketing officer calls it "one of the most creative, innovative menu items we have ever had” -- brain power put to good use.

    Arby's/Facebook

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Arby's Meat Mountain: The viral off-menu product containing eight different types of meat that, on second read, was probably engineered by Arby's all along. Horrific, regardless.

    KFC

    2014's fast food atrocities

    KFC'S ZINGER DOUBLE DOWN KING: A sandwich made by adding a burger patty to the infamous chicken-instead-of-buns creation can only be described using all caps. NO BUN ALL MEAT. Only available in South Korea.

    Taco Bell

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Taco Bell's Waffle Taco: It took two years for Taco Bell to develop this waffle folded in the shape of a taco, the stand-out star of its new breakfast menu.

    Michele Parente/Twitter

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Krispy Kreme Triple Cheeseburger: Only attendees at the San Diego County Fair were given the opportunity to taste the official version of this donut-hamburger-heart attack combo. The rest of America has reasonable odds of not dropping dead tomorrow.

    Taco Bell

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Taco Bell's Quesarito: A burrito wrapped in a quesadilla inside an enigma. Quarantined to one store in Oklahoma City.

    Pizzagamechangers.com

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Boston Pizza's Pizza Cake: The people's choice winner of a Canadian pizza chain's contest whose real aim, we'd imagine, is to prove that there's no such thing as "too far." Currently in development.

    7-Eleven

    2014's fast food atrocities

    7-Eleven's Doritos Loaded: "For something decadent and artificial by design," wrote one impassioned reviewer, "it only tasted of the latter."

  • Recent Slide Shows

Comments

Loading Comments...