Press Release

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A Letter from Environmental Groups to Gov. Kasich

Dear Governor Kasich,

We, the undersigned environmental advocacy organizations, write to urge you to veto Ohio Senate Bill 310 (SB 310). For the reasons summarized below, and in light of the US Environmental Protection Agency’s release of the draft carbon standards for existing power plants, SB 310 is not in the public interest. 

We were extremely disappointed when you announced your intent to sign this bill shortly after it passed the legislature last week. Provisions within this legislation are contradictory to the tenets of energy policies you’ve advanced since 2011. SB 310 permanently changes Ohio law in a way that harms Ohio’s consumers, our economy and the environment; damage that will not simply be relieved if the clean energy standards – as radically amended by the bill – happen to be reinstated in 2017. And, with the release of the draft carbon standards on June 2, we strongly believe that SB 310 puts Ohio at a disadvantage in developing a plan to implement the emissions targets that US EPA has set for the state.

On June 10th of this year, your signature on Ohio Senate Bill 315 will turn just two years old; this legislation re-ratified Ohio’s renewable and efficiency standards. As you signed the bill, you stated: “This is a piece of legislation that will last 100 years in Ohio. There’s no doubt in my mind about it.[1]”  Your signature on SB 310 will be seen as something of an annulment of your “all-of-the-above” energy strategy, as SB 310 will severely undermine a well-established alternative energy industry that’s meant billions of dollars in investment in the Buckeye State.  Additionally, Senate Bill 310 disadvantages small business and residential ratepayers. It turns what was once a “customer-facing” policy intended to reduce energy waste and save Ohioans money on their utility bills, into a “utility-centered” policy that allows utilities to meet customer demand with expensive generation resources in lieu of the least-cost option for consumers – energy efficiency.

Not only are Ohio’s renewable and energy efficiency standards a boon to our state’s economy and essential to keeping energy bills low, they are also vital tools to ensure that Ohio can cost-effectively implement US EPA’s carbon pollution rule for existing power plants. In setting the emissions targets for each state – including those for Ohio – US EPA recognized the tremendous opportunity for reductions in carbon emissions through energy efficiency and renewables investments, and encouraged each state to employ these tools in a flexible manner that best meets individual state circumstances and objectives. The rules also set a baseline year for compliance of 2005, which gives Ohio the option to credit the carbon emissions avoided through efficiency and renewable energy investments all the way back to the initial implementation of these policies in 2009.

Yet SB 310 would forgo 2 years of avoided carbon emissions from the calculation, significantly impacting Ohio’s ability to cost-effectively implement the standards. For example, if SB 310 becomes law, it is anticipated that FirstEnergy will cancel most, if not all, of its energy efficiency programs and scale back its renewables investment. This will mean Ohio’s largest utility – serving about one-half of the electric customers in the state – will contribute little (if at all) to the development of a cost-effective compliance path for the carbon standards. To further illustrate this missed opportunity, AEP projected under their next energy efficiency portfolio – which likely won’t be implemented if SB 310 becomes law – that their programs would have reduced carbon emissions by more than 2 million metric tons from 2015-2019.

Even putting aside these lost opportunities, if the standards are frozen for two years Ohioans will be the ones who lose out.  An important element to SB 310 that we urge you to not overlook is that this legislation, if enacted, will mean that more fossil fuels will be burned to meet Ohio’s energy needs, releasing more toxic pollution into the air. This will thwart Ohio’s recent progress in reducing harmful emissions. Ohio’s clean energy policies have already delivered significant reductions in air pollution, much to the benefit of Ohio’s health-vulnerable populations, including children, pregnant women, older Ohioans, and people who work and play outdoors.

We have an obligation to protect current and future generations from the harm and costs associated with climate change and toxic air pollution emitted by coal-fired power plants. Additionally, we have an obligation to ensure that Ohio’s policies are designed to ensure low-cost, low-emission electricity for families and businesses, and that the State is investing in a future that employs a diversity of clean energy resources. SB 310 takes us in the wrong direction. For this reason we urge you to veto SB 310.

Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,

Trish Demeter, Managing Director of Energy & Clean Air Programs

Ohio Environmental Council

Jen Miller, Director

Sierra Club Ohio

Tracy Sabetta

National Wildlife Federation

Don Hollister, Executive Director

Ohio League of Conservation Voters

Samantha Williams, Attorney

Natural Resources Defense Council