by German Lopez
Solar sector grew by 31 percent between 2012 and 2013
Ohio ranked No. 8 among states for solar jobs in 2013,
with solar employment growing to 3,800 from 2,900 over the year,
according to the Feb. 11 census report from the Solar Foundation.Still, the state actually dropped five spots to No. 23 in
per-capita rankings, which measure the amount of solar jobs relative to a
state’s overall population.The U.S. solar industry employed more than 142,000
Americans in November, representing an increase of nearly 24,000 over
the year, according to the Solar Foundation. At nearly 20 percent
growth, the solar sector grew more than 10 times faster than the overall
economy, which on average increased employment by 1.9 percent.Advocacy group Environment Ohio applauded the latest numbers.“The sun is an unlimited energy source that could provide
all of our energy without the air and water pollution associated with
coal, oil and gas,” said Christian Adams, state associate at Environment
Ohio, in a statement. “This report shows that the solar industry is
putting people to work to meet a growing percentage of our energy needs
with a pollution-free energy source that has no fuel costs.”Environment Ohio praised Cincinnati in particular. In
2012, Cincinnati became the first major city in the nation to support
100 percent renewable energy through electric aggregation. Last
year, City Council adopted a motion to put solar panels on one in five city
rooftops by 2028 and develop new financing programs to support the goal.In a 2012 report, Environment Ohio found Cincinnati could become the solar capital of the region and lead
a boom of solar jobs.Under a 2008 state law, utility companies must meet benchmarks
that require them to get 12.5 percent of their electricity from
renewable sources, such as wind, hydro, biomass and solar, and save 22
percent of electricity through new efficiency efforts by 2025.A 2013 report from the Ohio State University and the Ohio
Advanced Energy Economy found the law will save Ohioans $3.65 billion on
their electricity bills between 2014 and 2025.Pressured by Akron-based FirstEnergy and the
ultra-conservative American Legislative Exchange Council, the Republican-controlled Ohio
Senate is currently looking for ways to weaken the renewable energy and
efficiency standards. The renewed effort comes after attempts to
dismantle the law by State Sen. Bill Seitz, a Cincinnati Republican who
often compare Ohio’s energy law to Stalinism, failed to gain support.Meanwhile, Environment Ohio says the state should actually
increase its standards to help combat global warming and boost
renewable energy jobs.
by German Lopez
Environmental groups call on Sen. Brown to show support
More than 200 Ohioans gathered at the Ohio Statehouse on
Saturday to call on U.S. Sens. Sherrod Brown and Rob Portman to support federal
regulations that would attempt to curtail human-caused global warming.
The regulations would impose stricter pollution limits on
power plants across the nation, which Environment Ohio says are
responsible for 41 percent of U.S. carbon emissions — a primary contributor to
The new rules are part of the climate plan President
Barack Obama proposed in June to skip legislative action from a
gridlocked Congress and slow down global warming by using the
already-established regulatory arm of the Environmental Protection
“Our message today is clear. The time is now to act on
climate,” said Christian Adams, state associate with Environment Ohio,
in a statement. “Global warming threatens our health, our environment
and our children’s future. Ohioans support President Obama’s plan to
clean up the biggest carbon polluters.”
The Obama administration proposed regulations on new power
plants on Sept. 20 that effectively prevent any new coal power plants
from opening up if they don’t capture and sequester carbon pollution.
Experts argue those limits will have little effect on future carbon emissions because new coal power plants are already being phased out by natural gas.
But the statehouse rally asked Ohio’s senators to support
incoming regulations that will impose further restrictions on existing
power plants and — if they’re effective — reduce the amount of carbon
going into the atmosphere.
The regulations could have large implications for Ohio. A previous report from Environment Ohio found Ohio’s power plants pollute more than those in any state except Texas.
Coal companies warn the regulations could cost jobs. St. Louis-based Patriot Coal says “burdensome environmental and governmental regulations” have already “impacted demand for coal and increased costs.”
But the regulations could simply shift jobs to cleaner energy sectors. A 2012 report from Environment Ohio found Cincinnati could become the regional capital of solar power and help revitalize its economy with new jobs in the process.
Scientists have historically called for reducing global
warming to 2 degrees Celsius to avoid the worst effects of climate
change. That would involve greatly reducing the amount of carbon that
goes into the atmosphere over the next few decades, according to the
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
In the IPCC’s 2013 report, scientists said they are at least 95 percent certain that human actions contribute to global warming.
Many economists argue a carbon tax and a cap-and-trade system
are better ways to tackle climate change than regulations. But those
policies would require legislative action that is unlikely in the
current political climate, especially since many Republican legislators deny the science behind human-caused global warming.
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.
0 Comments · Wednesday, July 24, 2013
Ohio taxpayers could be on the hook for
millions of dollars if something goes wrong at an oil and gas drilling
operation, according to a report released on July 18 by advocacy group
by German Lopez
Environment Ohio finds taxpayers could be forced to pay millions for cleanups
A report released today suggests Ohio taxpayers could be on the hook for costs if something goes wrong at an oil and gas drilling operation.
The report from advocacy group Environment Ohio looks at
the costs related to “fracking,” an extraction technique that involves
pumping millions of gallons of water underground to unlock oil and gas
Recent technological advancements have
spurred a boom in fracking, leading to hundreds of new wells in Ohio and
thousands more around the nation.
When oil and gas companies obtain a permit to build a
fracking well, they typically have to provide some financial assurance
to the state in case something goes wrong. In Ohio, that assurance comes
through bonds and specific insurance requirements.
If a well operation is completed without a problem, the cost of the bonds is returned to the operator. If something goes
wrong, the company has to fix the mess before it gets its money back.
But Environment Ohio finds companies in Ohio only have to secure $5,000 in upfront bonds per well. That’s not enough for a
company to fear the financial consequences of a disaster, which means it could act
recklessly with little disincentive, according to the report.
The report says that could pose a huge cost to taxpayers:
Simply reclaiming a well and its property can cost hundreds of thousands
of dollars. Actually paying for damages, such as contaminated
groundwater and ruined roads, can cost millions.
Under normal circumstances, private and public entities
could sue for the damages, but that’s unrealistic if a well operator goes bankrupt or is otherwise unwilling or
incapable of paying.
Another potential problem: The bond payments are only held by the
state until a well is plugged and the site is reclaimed to the
satisfaction of state operators. That doesn’t account for health and
environmental damages that can surface after a drilling operation ends,
according to the report.
The issues are further compounded by
loopholes, which allow companies to avoid bonding requirements
altogether if they prove they hold a certain amount of in-state assets.
Environment Ohio calls it “an exceedingly easy test to meet.”In what it calls “common sense” reforms, Environment Ohio says the state should impose more
assurances for longer periods of time. The organization favorably cites
other states that require $250,000 in upfront bonds — much higher than
Ohio’s $5,000. For companies, that would mean a much higher financial
hurdle when taking on a fracking project, but the high cost could
provide a powerful incentive to avoid dangerous risks.The report also finds that insurance requirements in the
state are weak, with operators required to fulfill a $5 million
liability cap regardless of whether they’re running one well or 100.
recommends Ohio work to build stricter financial and regulatory
“At a minimum, Ohio needs an adequate severance tax to
fund impacts on communities and provide a cushion for long-term risk
management,” said Wendy Patton, director at left-leaning think tank
Policy Matters Ohio, in a statement released by Environment Ohio.
An oil and gas severance tax was suggested by Republican
Gov. John Kasich to pay for income tax cuts, but Republican legislators
rejected the proposal.
The report’s findings were not exclusive to Ohio. It also
found issues and suggested solutions for other states and the federal
government, including a similar call for stronger bonding requirements on
CityBeat covered the fracking boom and its effects on Ohio in further detail here.
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.
Push for solar energy could help revitalize Cincinnati’s economy
0 Comments · Wednesday, December 19, 2012
Could Cincinnati become the solar capital
of the region? A new report by a citizen-based environmental advocacy
group says yes.