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Governor Kasich Should Seize the Opportunity to Put 8,600 More Ohioans to Work in Clean Energy

Samantha Williams

Posted May 29, 2014 in Solving Global Warming, U.S. Law and Policy

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On May 21, a coalition of companies – including the Ohio-based Limited Brands, Inc. and Owens Corning, as well as national heavyweights Starbucks, the Gap, Levis, Jones Lange LaSalle, Ikea and Nike - wrote to Governor John Kasich urging him to, “seize the economic opportunity embedded in addressing climate change.”  They explained that “the health of our economy depends on our ability to capitalize on the opportunities in front of us.”

These companies are part of a growing chorus of business leaders who know that America is at its best when it faces challenges head-on, that ignoring climate change is costing us billions every year that we can’t afford, and that putting people to work on solutions is both the right thing to do for future generations, and the best way to grow our economy. 

One of the opportunities the companies cited for Ohio is a draft rule that U.S. EPA is expected to publish on June 2.  Under the Clean Air Act, U.S. EPA is obligated to regulate carbon from existing electric power plants - which are responsible for 40 percent of the carbon pollution that causes climate change. The draft rule will be implemented through state plans that will be submitted two years from now. It is through these state plans that Ohio policy makers have an opportunity to build a clean, safe, reliable, affordable electric power system and lead the nation in tackling the challenges posed by climate change. 

 

Energy efficiency and renewables are key to unlocking compliance with the carbon rule

Ohio has already laid the foundation for a shift to clean energy. With the energy efficiency and renewable energy standards already on the books Ohio has the tools necessary to cost-effectively and substantially cut carbon emissions over the coming decade. By ramping up these standards to maximize the potential for renewable energy and efficiency, and combining them with other improvements in the way power plants generate and transmit power, Ohio can cut dangerous carbon emissions even more, while maintaining a reliable and affordable electric system and creating thousands of new jobs in the state.

The forthcoming release of the carbon rule demonstrates even more acutely the importance of these clean energy standards. Unfortunately, the Ohio Legislature passed SB 310 this week – a bill that will freeze the standards for the next two years – just when Ohio needs them more than ever to cost-effectively bring Ohio closer to a clean energy future. 

In the face of SB 310’s clean energy freeze, we hope that Ohio’s legislators will have a change of heart and choose to capitalize on – rather than roll back – Ohio’s clean energy standards as it develops a state compliance plan over the next two years.  

 

The benefits of the carbon rule for Ohio’s clean energy economy are  many

To quantify the economic opportunities the draft carbon rule brings to Ohio, NRDC asked ICF International, a consulting firm that often works for the electric power industry, to take a close look at how the rule will affect electric bills and jobs across the nation - and in Ohio. 

The findings are encouraging:   

  • ICF estimates that Ohio can reduce carbon emissions by 32 million tons per year – roughly the amount that would be emitted by 6.7 million cars - put 8,600 Ohioans to work in the energy efficiency economy, and reduce our total electric bill by about $399 million per year (or $6.80 per month for every household). 
  • Nationally, the carbon rule has the potential to cut 531 million tons of carbon pollution annually, while creating more than 274,000 new jobs in energy efficiency, and cutting household and business electric bills by $37.4 billion per year.

Over the coming days, we will all hear plenty of alarmist claims from the fossil fuel industry about the carbon rule.  They will argue that addressing climate change through regulation will mean blackouts, skyrocketing bills and the end of modern civilization.

They will urge America to shrink from both the responsibility and the opportunity in front of us.

On the contrary, the carbon rule won’t mean the end of coal, or the end of civilization – far from it.  Instead, the rule will create a much-needed shift to a cleaner electric system that relies less on fossil fuels and more on low and zero-emitting sources of power – such as the energy efficiency and renewable energy sources that have already created a thriving clean energy economy in Ohio.  As this economy grows, it provides well-paying local jobs for Ohio’s workforce, cleaner air, and lower power bills. 

Now is the time to seize this enormous opportunity. 

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Comments

Michael BerndtsonMay 30 2014 12:11 PM

This issue with Ohio energy is confusing to me. It's an important issue. Just confusing. Ohio has always been a bellwether state for the Midwest and the entire country for that matter. It use to be thought that to become president, one had to come from Ohio. I think that was like 100 years ago, but still. It still is a key state for presidential elections.

Ohio has, or use to have, the most big or biggish cities. The lions share of manufacturing. Agriculture and now oil and gas. What happens with energy and specifically efficiency and renewables, will impact other states in the Midwest. Many that are divided at about 50/50 between democrat and republican. Or doing something, anything about the environment could go either way.

The Ohio I'm familiar with is pretty conservative. The southwest corner. It's also where the State's politics is trending, i.e. Miami of Ohio free market business types versus Cleveland State community and union leaders. This would be Paul Ryan types, whose family's wealth was generated by formally progress Wisconsin/Illinois union lobbying federal, state and local governments for more infrastructure builds and RCRA capped landfill remediations. To keep excavators excavating and trucks hauling and whatnot.

I guess my point is this. I'm not sure how much traction NRDC can get from an economic analysis by ICF International - the consulting firm of DOE's Moniz, when the other side doesn't buy into the premise and key assumption: 1) climate change is a problem, 2) renewables and efficiency goals are necessary, and 3) tilting the playing field to benefit oil and gas production. Or the emotional and environmental plea may fall onto deaf ears. Especially in suburban Cincinnati. Like I said, this is confusing. Important, though.

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Switchboard is the staff blog of the Natural Resources Defense Council, the nation’s most effective environmental group. For more about our work, including in-depth policy documents, action alerts and ways you can contribute, visit NRDC.org.

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