How out of step is Ohio’s Republican-controlled legislature with what the American public really wants on energy policy? Way out of step according to two new Gallup polls on environment and energy.

It wasn’t long ago that Ohio, courtesy of Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland, who negotiated a bi-partisan energy policy that advanced renewable energy for electric generating companies, led the nation in what an advanced energy portfolio looks like. Gov. Strickland can rightfully claim that back in 2008 he helped enact a state law that set achievable renewable energy standards for electric generators.

Gov. John Kasich, a Republican, let the dogs loose when he called for a reset of those nation-leading standards, which has now moved Ohio backwards from leader to water boy.

Americans favor protecting the environment even at the risk of limiting energy supplies such as oil, gas and coal, and opt for developing alternative energy sources, a new poll by Gallup reveals. Of those surveyed, 59 percent say protecting environment is more important than traditional energy. Over seven in 10 favor development of alternative energy vs. oil, gas, coal, while a majority favor higher emissions standards and enforcement of regulations.

At the same time, another Gallup poll shows that Americans’ concerns about global warming are at peak levels, including a record 45 percent who say they worry “a great deal” about global warming. Americans worrying a great deal is up eight percentage points to 45 percent. A new high of 62 percent say the effects of global warming are happening now. And 42 percent believe that global warming poses a serious threat.

Meanwhile, in Columbus at the Statehouse, Republicans are going in the opposite direction. Reports say that House Bill 114 had its first hearing before the House Public Utilities Committee on Tuesday. The measure would make renewable-energy mandates optional, and energy-efficiency standards would be reduced.

Gov. Kasich, who opened the door to this kind of retrograde motion, seems to think he didn’t have a hand it making it possible. The governor says he opposes the bill, and others like it, because it sends the wrong message about Ohio’s priorities.

“I haven’t changed my mind,” Kasich said on Monday, according to reports. He cited his desire to attract tech companies like Amazon and Google that want clean-energy investments. “How will (those companies) feel if we went backwards in the state?”

If the bill passes, Kasich will get a chance to use his veto pen to show how sincere he is about keeping Ohio from moving backwards.

 

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