Terra Goodnight · May 16, 2019
A bill is moving in the Ohio legislature that could deal a fatal blow to Ohio’s renewable energy and energy efficiency industry. And, in a perverse twist, the bill—touted by supporters as a “Clean Air” measure—would actually create subsidies for dirty forms of energy like coal and natural gas. This so-called “Clean Air” bill could actually increase air pollution over time.
House Bill 6 was introduced this spring in an attempt to prop up two failing nuclear power plants owned by an affiliate of First Energy. It would impose a fee on every Ohioan’s monthly electric bill to fund subsidies for carbon-free energy sources including nuclear, delivering over $190 million each year to two plants owned by First Energy Solutions. The good-paying jobs at those two plants are absolutely worth saving, but HB6 manages to do so while simultaneously scrapping Ohio’s groundbreaking renewable energy and efficiency standards which have helped encourage the development of pollution-free sources of energy. So while it aims to protect Ohio jobs, HB6 could itself threaten the more than 112,000 jobs in Ohio’s booming clean energy and efficiency industries.
House lawmakers have introduced an alternative to HB6 – the Clean Air and Jobs Plan – that could accomplish both goals: protecting Ohio jobs while preserving our renewable and efficiency standards that ensure a clean energy future.
But this alternative is not getting a serious hearing.
Yesterday, majority Republicans made amendments to House Bill 6, but the changes are no better than the original proposal. They would actually allow coal and natural gas power plants to benefit from “clean air” subsidies.
The hearing featured scores of backers of HB6—given notice of the hearing before the committee’s minority members—testifying in favor of the bill while the bill’s opponents on the panel were initially prevented from asking any questions.
The path to a clean air future cannot rely solely on a bailout for aging nuclear power plants. It must also include a robust renewable energy and efficiency targets to ensure future electricity generation actually reduces sources of unhealthy, climate-changing pollution.
Next week could be critical. Another set of amendments is expected and they could resolve the concerns about protecting Ohio’s renewable energy and efficiency goals, or they could leave the bill largely unchanged. Before any vote, tell your lawmaker to oppose House Bill 6 without substantial changes to protect our health, economy, and environment.
Tagged in these Policy Areas: Statehouse Update