Weeks after Ohio’s Republican Gov. John R. Kasich signed into law SB 310, legislation that started a two-year freeze on annual increases in standards for renewable energy and energy efficiency that was accompanied by a second bill that included new setback restrictions on wind turbines, he’s come under fire for saying he is “as committed to green energy as ever” then proving how little his commitment really is by junking a bill that a Republican-controlled legislature approved nearly unanimously in 2008; a bill that former Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland signed into law.
“I spent more time and more effort making sure that we have a bill that fit Ohio, that will not bankrupt consumers or hurt jobs, but something that’s still forward-looking on renewables,” Gov. Kasich said recently in a published report. His defends approving the bill by claiming that, but for his holding the line with industry-energized lobbyists and lawmakers catering to their interest, the bill could have been worse. Gov. Kasich said Ohio was ready for a “reset” and that if Republicans friendly to his agenda don’t come up with better standards in two years, and few believe they would decided to increase the standards, the Strickland standards will prevail. “If they don’t give us something that works, we go back to the old standards,” he told a reporter.
But while Gov. Kasich runs for a second and final term this year, he became the first governor in the nation to essentially reverse his state’s course on renewable energy. Not looking at Ohio and saying let’s do what they’re doing, Michigan, Ohio’s storied rival, can’t get enough wind power fast enough.
Hail to the victors valient, hail to the conquering heroes
A new report from the University of Michigan finds strong support among local government leaders for expanding the use of wind power. This support is highest, in fact, in places that already have experience with utility-scale turbines, despite some concerns about potential local government and citizen opposition due to the nearly 500-foot tall machines.
Results of the report, conducted by U-M’s Ford School’s Center for Local, State, and Urban Policy, which conducted the survey as part of the Michigan Public Policy Survey program, showed the following: When local government leaders were asked if they support or oppose the placement of new turbines of any size in their own jurisdiction, 53 percent supported new local wind turbines while just 16 percent oppose them, with support rising to 75 percent among local leaders in jurisdictions that already have utility-scale turbines.
The report identified the primary factors encouraging adoption of wind power are economic issues, including revenue for land-owners, local property tax revenue, and job creation. The most common factors that discourage adoption of wind power are concerns about visual and noise impacts, as well potential negative outcomes on property values. Michigan is nearing its own deadline to generate 10 percent of the state’s electricity from renewable sources by 2015, but report findings show it wants to go further.
Chris Christie likes wind power
Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of the Interior announced Thursday that as part of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan to create American jobs, develop domestic clean energy sources and cut carbon pollution, DOI Secretary Sally Jewell and Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) Acting Director Walter Cruickshank announced the proposed sale of leases for nearly 344,000 acres offshore New Jersey for commercial wind energy leasing.
“Responsible offshore wind energy development has the potential to create jobs, expand our domestic clean energy resources, and strengthen our nation’s economic competitiveness,” Jewell said in prepared remarks. “Today’s announcement is a testament to the true collaboration and commitment from New Jersey for harnessing clean energy, and it reflects extensive consultations with a number of local communities and stakeholders to minimize conflicts and bring clarity and certainty to potential wind energy developers. We are another important step closer to harnessing the enormous potential of wind energy off New Jersey’s shores—a resource that could power more than one million homes.”
President Obama made a pledge in 2009 that by 2020, America would reduce its greenhouse gas emissions in the range of 17 percent below 2005 levels, if all other major economies agreed to limit their emissions as well. The President said he “remains firmly committed to that goal and to building on the progress of his first term to help put us and the world on a sustainable long-term trajectory.” During the Obama Administration’s time in office, it has doubled America’s use of wind, solar, and geothermal energy and helped establish the toughest fuel economy standards in the nation’s history. “We are creating new jobs, building new industries, and reducing dangerous carbon pollution which contributes to climate change,” President Obama said.
Here in Ohio, it looks like the future is still over the horizon, as far as stepping up to meet renewable energy standards as Michigan, DOI and other states and countries are doing. If it’s possible to turn the lights out before the party is over, Gov. Kasich appears to have flipped that switch.