0 Comments · Wednesday, January 8, 2014
A new pilot program in New York City will use organic food
waste to heat more than 5,000 homes as part of the city’s goal to
reduce municipal greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent by 2017. WORLD +2
by German Lopez
Cold weather in one city or region doesn’t disprove the global phenomenon
The recent bout of cold weather does nothing to disprove
the scientifically established phenomenon of global warming, despite what conservative media might be telling some
Cincinnatians.Many Cincinnatians have taken to social media in the past
few days to chime in on what the recent weather means for global warming — a debate fostered by so-called skeptics on talk radio and Fox News.But the scientific literature is based on years and decades of trends, meaning a few days or weeks of cold weather signify little in the big picture of climate change.In fact, Google’s definition of climate is “the weather
conditions prevailing in an area in general or over a long period.” The
key, scientifically minded folks point out, is “long period.”When that long period is analyzed, the trend is clear:The trend explains why scientists almost all agree
global warming is happening and most certainly spurred by human actions. In the 2013
report from the the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change,
scientists said they are at least 95 percent certain that human actions
contribute to global warming.
Beyond the scientific facts, for every anecdote out there,
there is often a contradicting anecdote from another source. While
Cincinnati and the Midwest may be coping with a cold winter,
summer-stricken Australia is recovering from its own bout of hot weather and drought.
The contradicting conditions don’t prove or disprove global warming, but they do show the folly of relying on anecdotal evidence.
by German Lopez
Environment Ohio calls on regulators to limit effects on global warming
In the United States, Ohio’s power plants pollute more
than all but Texas’ power plants, making Ohio one of the nation’s
leading contributors to global warming, according to a Sept. 10 report
from Environment Ohio.
“America’s dirtiest power plants are the elephant in the
room when it comes to global warming,” said Kathryn Lee, field associate
for Environment Ohio, in a statement. “If we want a cleaner, safer
future for our kids, we can’t afford to ignore power plants’
overwhelming contribution to global warming. For Ohio, tackling the
problem means cleaning up the dirtiest power plants.”
Power plants are responsible for 41 percent of the United States’ carbon dioxide pollution, which means they contribute more to
global warming than any other source in the nation, according to the
“Dirty power plants produce a disproportionate share of
the nation’s global warming pollution — especially given the relatively
small share of total electricity they produce. For example, despite
producing 30 percent of all power-sector carbon dioxide emissions, the
50 dirtiest power plants only produced 16 percent of the nation’s
electricity in 2011,” the report found.
The report narrows down the pollution problem to specific power plants and the disproportionate amount of greenhouse gases they emit: “The dirtiest power plant in the United States, Georgia Power’s Plant
Scherer, produced more than 21 million metric tons of carbon dioxide in
2011 — more than the total energy-related emissions of Maine.”
The report ultimately calls on regulators to encourage
alternative energy sources and curtail greenhouse gases that contribute
to global warming.
Specifically, the report asks the U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency (EPA) to meet a timeline put forth by President Barack
Obama for setting strict limits and regulations on how much future and existing power
plants can pollute. It also calls on all levels of government to
continue setting standards and incentives that encourage clean energy.
In 2008, Ohio passed its Clean Energy Law to require and
incentivize Ohio companies to pursue energy portfolios that are cleaner,
more efficient and more diverse.
Environment Ohio has consistently called on state
legislators to strengthen the standards, with the latest report
suggesting goals that would require even more clean, renewable energy
sources than Ohio currently mandates.
But even the renewable energy standards that Environment Ohio deems too weak are likely to be diminished
by a proposal from State Sen. Bill Seitz (R-Cincinnati), following an
aggressive lobbying effort from national conservative groups.
Seitz is a member of the conservative American Legislative
Exchange Council (ALEC), which has teamed up with the conservative
Heartland Institute to dismantle state energy regulations. The two
conservative groups deny global warming is driven by human
actions, even though scientists reportedly said they’re 95 percent
certain humans are contributing to global warming in a leaked report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
Another report from Environment Ohio
found Ohio’s standards, which require utility companies get 12.5
percent of their energy needs from renewable sources, have spurred clean
energy projects in Cincinnati and the rest of the state. In 2011, the
Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden used the state incentives to install
solar panels in its parking lot that will generate enough electricity
to meet 20 percent of the zoo’s electricity needs and reduce pollution
associated with global warming by 1,775 tons annually, according to the
report.Meanwhile, Cincinnati has taken its own actions.
“The city has been a leader in greenhouse gas reduction
efforts since adopting the Green Cincinnati Plan in 2007,” said Larry
Falkin, director of the Office of Environmental Quality of the City of
Cincinnati, in a statement. “We have succeeded in reducing emissions by
more than 8 percent through measures including energy efficiency,
renewable energy and alternative fuel vehicles. What we have learned is
that if you do it right, climate protection work saves more than it
costs, improves public health and improves the quality of life.”Still, some companies argue the standards impose unreasonable costs on businesses and customers. Akron-based utility company FirstEnergy previously asked for a review of Ohio’s energy efficiency standards to address the concerns, but Seitz told Gongwer that the efficiency standards will remain untouched by his legislation.
Scientists have historically called for reducing global
warming to 2 degrees Celsius. That wouldn’t involve immediately
eliminating all carbon pollution — such a goal is widely viewed as
unrealistic — but it would likely require the United States and other
developed countries to cut their carbon pollution by 80 to 95 percent
below 1990 levels by 2050, according to the IPCC’s 2007 report.
With its latest report, Environment Ohio is aiming to push the country in that direction.
by German Lopez
State senator pushing new bill is on group’s board of directors
State Sen. Bill Seitz says he’s working on a bill that
would cap how much utilities can spend on energy efficiency programs and eliminate requirements for in-state wind and solar power. But the proposal isn’t completely unique to Ohio, which is just one of many states
in which national conservative groups are working to weaken state energy
Seitz, a Republican from Cincinnati, told Gongwer
that his bill will keep requirements for utilities to provide 25
percent of their electricity from alternative sources and reduce
customers’ consumption by 22 percent by 2025. But the other measures will likely weaken renewable energy and efficiency standards set by Ohio’s Clean Energy Law in 2008.The bill is presumably the result of Seitz’s review of Ohio’s energy rules, which the state senator announced earlier in the year. FirstEnergy, an Akron-based utility company, says the review is necessary because the regulations impose too many costs. But there’s another major group involved: the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).
Seitz is on the board of directors of ALEC,
a conservative group that’s gone from state to state to push legislation
that typically favors corporate interests. Some state officials, including Ohio House Speaker William Batchelder, reportedly attended ALEC’s 40th annual meeting in Chicago Aug. 7-9.
Just a couple weeks after that meeting, Seitz announced he still intends to rework Ohio’s energy standards.
ALEC previously teamed up
with the Heartland Institute, a libertarian think tank that gets much of its funding from oil
companies, to write the standard for legislation that pulls back state
energy rules. Many of the effort’s backers, particularly at the
Heartland Institute, deny man-made global warming, even though scientists are 95 percent certain climate change is influenced by human actions.
ALEC’s efforts have so far failed in every state in which legislation has been proposed, as shown in this map from ThinkProgress:
But Ohio may be the first state to buck that trend if
Seitz insists on pushing his review.A report from advocacy group Environment Ohio found the current energy standards, which require Ohio utility companies get 12.5 percent of their energy needs from renewable sources, have successfully spurred clean
energy projects all around the state, particularly in Cincinnati. One local example: The Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden in 2011 installed solar panels in its parking lot that will generate enough electricity to meet 20 percent of the zoo’s electricity needs and reduce pollution associated with global warming by 1,775 tons annually, according to the report.But the standards are written in a way that favors in-state sources, which was supposed to ensure that at least half of the renewable energy development spurred by the Clean Energy Law happened in Ohio. A June 2013 ruling from the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals indicated that the in-state preference is an unconstitutional violation of the Commerce Clause.Seitz will introduce his bill in the next two weeks.
0 Comments · Wednesday, July 31, 2013
Economists and polar scientists published a report that
found climate change in the Arctic could be impactful enough to deal a
$60 trillion blow to the global economy. WORLD -1
by Hannah McCartney
Four Ohio energy providers earn spot on Pear Energy's "Dirty Dozen"
Cincinnati's main gas and electricity provider, Duke Energy, has scored a No. 1 ranking, but it's not exactly one you'll be wanting to clap your hands about. Remember when we blogged a couple of weeks ago about how Greater Cincinnati has some of the worst air pollution in the nation? Yep, the American Lung Association's report, "State of the Air," gave us an "F" for ozone pollution, a "D" for 24-hour particle pollution and a "fail" for year-round particle pollution. That put us at the 10th worst spot in the country for year-round particle pollution and 14th worst for ozone pollution. Solar and wind energy provider Pear Energy, which currently operates in all 50 states, released yesterday its "Dirty Dozen" compilation, a list of the 12 utility providers emitting the greatest carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, a type of greenhouse gas. CO2 emissions, of course, are the gunk released into our atmosphere when we burn fossil fuels like gas, coal or oil. Excess CO2 in our atmosphere is directly linked to global warming. Coming from a company that wants to sell you energy itself, it's good to approach the list with a little skepticism, but the methodology seems transparent; according to the website, all rankings were determined by total CO2 emissions in 2010 of power producers with retail operations that have carbon intensities above the national average emissions rate (stats were sourced from Environmental Protection Agency data). While Duke Energy was pinpointed as the nation's worst offender, several other Ohio energy providers also earned accolades, including American Electric Power (No. 2), NRG (No. 8) and First Energy (No. 11). First Energy is the utility provider that in 2012 partnered with Duke Energy locally to bring Cincinnati an electric aggregation program, allegedly useful for both lowering electricity rates and increasing use of renewable energy sources with group buying power. Last month, CityBeat covered allegations that First Energy was focused on weakening energy efficiency standards under Ohio's Clean Energy Law, supposedly to protect prices from shooting up for its customers.
by German Lopez
Council combats human trafficking, Medicare reveals price data, Duke tops 'Dirty Dozen'
With a set of initiatives unanimously approved last week, City Council is looking to join the state in combating Cincinnati’s human trafficking problem.
The initiatives would evaluate local courts’ practices in human
trafficking and prostitution cases and study the need for more
surveillance cameras and streetlights at West McMicken Avenue, a
notorious prostitution hotspot. Councilwoman Yvette Simpson, who
spearheaded the initiatives, says the West McMicken Avenue study will
serve as a pilot program that could eventually branch out to other
prostitution hotspots in Cincinnati, including Lower Price Hill and Camp
Medicare data released yesterday revealed charges and payments can vary by thousands of dollars
depending on the hospital, including in Cincinnati. Health care
advocates and experts attribute the price disparity to the lack of
transparency in the health care system, which allows hospitals to set
prices without worrying about typical market checks. CityBeat previously covered the lack of health care price transparency in Ohio here.
Duke Energy is the No. 1 utility company polluter
in the nation, according to new rankings from Pear Energy. The rankings
looked at carbon dioxide emissions, which directly contribute to global
warming. Pear Energy is a solar and wind energy company that competes
with utility companies like Duke Energy, but the methodology behind the
rankings was fairly transparent and based on U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency data.
Commentary: “Republicans Continue Voter Suppression Tactics.”
City Council approved form-based code yesterday, which
Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls has been working on for years. In a statement,
Qualls’ office called form-based code an “innovative alternative to conventional
zoning” that will spur development. “Cincinnati now joins hundreds of
cities that are using form-based code to build and reinforce walkable
places that create value, preserve character and are the bedrock of
Cincinnati neighborhoods’ competitive advantage,” Qualls said in the statement.
State Sen. Peggy Lehner is looking to amend the Ohio budget bill to add a $100 million voucher program
that would cover preschool for three- and four-year-olds. The details
of the program are so far unclear, but Lehner said she might put most of
the funding on the second year of the biennium budget to give the state
time to prepare proper preschool programs. If the amendment proceeded,
it would join recent efforts in Cincinnati to open up early education
programs to low- and middle-income families. CityBeat covered the local efforts and many benefits of quality preschool here.
Gov. John Kasich says he would back a ballot initiative for a mostly federally funded Medicaid expansion,
which the Health Policy Institute of Ohio says would insure nearly half
a million Ohioans and save the state hundreds of thousands of dollars
in the next decade. CityBeat covered the Medicaid expansion in further detail here.
Policy Matters Ohio released a lengthy report
yesterday detailing how the state could move towards clean energy and
electric cars and calling for more state incentives for clean energy.
The report praises Cincinnati in particular for using municipal policies
to build local clean energy and keep energy jobs in the city.
The last tenant at Tower Place Mall is moving out.
Scientists are working on a microchip that could be implanted into the brain to restore memories.
They also found proof that seafloor bacteria ate radioactive supernova dust.
by German Lopez
Youth Jobs Fair today, groups clash over energy law, GOP considering election reform
Cincinnati’s Youth Jobs Fair will be held today at the
Duke Energy Convention Center between 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. The fair
provides an opportunity for young people, typically aged between 16 and
24, to look for work from a variety of participating employers. Mayor
Mark Mallory says attendees should “dress for success,” as if they were
going to their first day on the job.
State environmental groups and an Akron-based energy company are at odds over a 2008 law
that tasks the state and utility companies with meeting stringent
requirements for renewable energy and energy efficiency. State Sen. Bill
Seitz, the Cincinnati Republican who heads the Senate Public Utilities
Committee, has agreed to review Ohio’s Clean Energy Law, while
FirstEnergy, an Akron-based energy company, protests the requirements as
too expensive for the company and consumers around the state. But
Seitz’s decision has alarmed environmental groups who largely see the
law as effective three years later.
Republicans in the General Assembly are considering an incremental approach to elections reform
after their comprehensive efforts in 2011 and 2012 were received with widespread
accusations of voter suppression. The details aren’t worked out yet, but Seitz is planning on
introducing bills that he says will cut down on provisional ballot
voting and provide clearer rules for poll workers collecting provisional
ballots, and other Republicans are looking to set uniform statewide
early voting hours. Democratic State Sen. Nina Turner says she wants to
see a more comprehensive approach to elections reform, including a more
relaxed approach to provisional ballots.
The Hamilton County Board of Commissioners are considering raises for county employees,
but they first have to find a way to pay for the increases. Board
President Chris Monzel, a Republican, says he would like to wait to see
how Gov. John Kasich’s budget turns out to institute a merit-based raise
system. Commissioner Todd Portune, a Democrat, says he wants to
guarantee all employees a 1-percent increase.
City Council held a special meeting last night to discuss the city’s pension system,
which many are worried is costing the city too much in the long term.
City Manager Milton Dohoney Jr. says the city needs to take more steps
to stabilize the system: “More money in, figuring out where that more
money will come from, looking at the current picture of the benefits
themselves, and some way of financing it short of putting lump sums of
The U.S. Supreme Court showed doubts
over the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act, which
effectively banned same-sex marriage at a federal level, at hearings
President Barack Obama’s administration released a proposal that will help deal with the effects of global warming on wildlife, including arctic foxes.
Watch a nine-year-old discuss the meaning of life and the universe:
Ohio considers relaxing energy efficiency standards; environmental groups take exception
0 Comments · Wednesday, March 27, 2013
State environmental groups and an
Akron-based energy company are at odds over a 2008 law that tasks the
state and utility companies with meeting stringent requirements for
renewable energy and energy efficiency.
by German Lopez
New restrooms stalled, Medicaid expansion saves money, there is no “climate debate”
City Council wants to do more research
before it proceeds with freestanding public restrooms in downtown
and Over-the-Rhine. The vote has been delayed. Critics say
the restrooms are too expensive at $130,000, but supporters, particularly Councilman Chris Seelbach, insist the
restrooms will not be that expensive. A majority of City Council argues
the restrooms are necessary because increasing populations and growth in
downtown have made 24-hour facilities necessary.
A new report found Ohio’s budget would benefit from a Medicaid expansion.
The expansion would mostly save money by letting the federal government
pick up a much larger share of the cost for Ohio’s population, particularly prison
inmates. A previous study
found Medicaid expansions were correlated with better health results,
including decreased mortality rates, in some states. Another study from
the Arkansas Department of Human Services found the state would save
$378 million by 2025 with the Medicaid expansion. Most of the savings from the Arkansas study
would come from uncompensated care — costs that are placed on health
institutions and state and local governments when uninsured patients
that can’t and don’t pay use medical services.
The Dayton Daily News has a wonderful example of how not to do journalism. In an article on the supposed “climate debate,”
the newspaper ignored the near-unanimous scientific consensus on global warming and decided to give credence to people who deny all
scientific reasoning. To be clear, there is no climate debate. There’s the overwhelming majority of scientists, climatologists and data on one side, and there’s the
pro-oil, pro-coal lobby and stubborn, irrational conservatives who will
deny anything that hurts their interests on the other side.
The Ohio Board of Education approved policies for seclusion rooms.
The non-binding policy requires parents to be notified if their
children are placed in a seclusion room, and the Ohio Department of
Education can also request data, even though it won’t be made public. More
stringent policies may come in the spring. Seclusion rooms are supposed
to be used to hold out-of-control kids, but an investigation from The Columbus Dispatch and StateImpact Ohio found the rooms were being abused by teachers and school staff for their convenience.
If the city wants to buy Tower Place, the mall will have to be cleared out, according to City Manager Milton Dohoney.
Last week, the remaining businesses at Tower Place were evicted, and
Dohoney said the city did not sign off on the eviction orders. Apparently, the
city really didn’t agree to or enforce eviction orders, but the city’s buyout requires
evictions. Dohoney said the eviction notices should signify the
deal to buy Tower Place is moving forward.
Dohoney appointed Captain Paul Humphries to the assistant chief position
for the Cincinnati Police Department. Humphries has been on the force
for 26 years, and he currently serves as the chief of staff to Chief
Cincinnati’s Neighborhood Enhancement Program (NEP) is targeting Mt. Airy and Carthage.
Starting March 1, police, businesses and civic groups will begin
putting together accelerated revitalization and reinvestment plans for
the communities. NEP emphasizes building code enforcement, crime,
neighborhood cleanup and beautification.
Good news, everyone. Cincinnati is no longer the bedbug capital.
Bob Castellini, owner of the Reds, was named the region’s master entrepreneur by Northern Kentucky University.
The Ohio Department of Transportation released a website that has real-time traffic information.
Some people really suck at political slogans.
Oh, science. Apparently, particle physics could improve Netflix’s suggestions.