Will Ohio Gov. Kasich's Anti-Green Resume Kill His Presidential Hopes?
July 31, 2015
Harvey Wasserman / EcoWatch & Kerry Eleveld / Daily Kos
The latest politician to leap toward the GOP nomination is widely known as America's most anti-green governor. Ohio Gov. John Kasich has established a national reputation as a leading enemy of renewable energy and enhanced energy efficiency. Candidate Kasich is going to spend a lot of time talking about his work to improve Ohio's economy, but one thing he won't be touting is his achievement last year of halting a highly successful and popular renewable energy program.
Will Ohio Gov. Kasich's Anti-Green Resume Kill His Presidential Hopes?
Harvey Wasserman / EcoWatch
(July 25, 2015) -- The latest politician to leap toward the GOP nomination is widely known as America’s most anti-green governor. But he has a critical decision coming up that could help change that.
Ohio Gov. John Kasich has established a national reputation as a leading enemy of renewable energy and enhanced energy efficiency.
When he took office in 2011, he opened fire by killing a $400 million federal grant to restore passenger rail service between Cleveland, Columbus, Dayton and Cincinnati.
Columbus is the largest capital city in the western world that people cannot get to by train. It also has no internal commuter rail, making it what some have called "the mid-sized town technology forgot."
The rail grant had been painstakingly crafted over the better part of a decade by a broad bi-partisan coalition. It was poised to create hundreds of jobs and provide new opportunity for a number of small towns languishing along the restoration route.
The son of a postal worker, Kasich has long touted "jobs, jobs, jobs" as his trademark commitment. The polls were very tight just prior to Ohio's 2010 election when a check for $1 million came into his campaign chest from Rupert Murdoch, owner of Fox TV, where Kasich had anchored a commentary show. Between his time as a US Congressman and the governor’s race, Kasich amassed a personal fortune by selling junk bonds to government pension funds.
Upon entering the statehouse in 2011 he sent the $400 million rail grant back to the feds with stunning contempt. There were no public hearings, no legislative debates, no discussion with Ohioans who had labored for years to bring the money into the state.
Kasich then attacked renewable energy. Under previous Gov. Ted Strickland, a bi-partisan coalition had constructed one of America’s most successful green power packages. Major wind farms involving some $2 billion in invested capital were poised to pour into northern Ohio.
Wind turbines can be especially profitable in the corridor just south of Lake Erie. The fertile farmland is flat, the breezes are steady, there are plenty of transmission lines and the power can be generated relatively close to urban areas like Toledo, Canton, Cleveland and Akron. Thousands of jobs and radically reduced electric rates were set to revive Ohio's gutted industrial economy.
A $50 million solar farm was also slated for the southern part of the state. Businesses specializing in rooftop installations were thriving.
Kasich killed all that. Last year he signed a bill gutting the green power plan pending two years of "further study."
He then drove a stake through the heart of Ohio's wind-powered future. Again with no public hearings or debate, Kasich slipped into law draconian restrictions on the spacing of wind turbines.
For no apparent reason other than to kill the wind industry, the bill mandates extreme siting distances from property lines and buildings, which makes commercial turbine development a virtual impossibility in the Buckeye State. And, Kasich has made Ohio the dumping grounds for fracking wastewater.
Yet even that doesn't quite end the tragedy of Kasich's epic energy fail.
The infamous Davis-Besse nuke at Oak Harbor, near Toledo, has been uneconomical for years. It’s recognized worldwide as one of Earth’s most dangerously decrepit reactors. Boric acid once ate through all but one-eighth’s inch of its pressure vessel, nearly causing a Chernobyl on Lake Erie. Its shield wall is crumbling, as is its overall infrastructure.
Old age, mismanagement and corporate greed have left it, among other things, with a number of actual holes poked through its containment dome. Similar shenanigans recently forced the final shut-down of the Crystal River reactor in Florida.
Fifteen years ago the owners of Davis-Besse and the Perry reactor, east of Cleveland, took some $9 billion from Ohio ratepayers to refurbish the two failing nukes in preparation for a "free market" in energy. Cincinnati-based economist Ned Ford has shown that siphoning off that money has helped cripple the industrial economy of northern Ohio.
Today neither nuke can compete with gas and renewables. So FirstEnergy, Davis-Besse's Akron-based owner, wants the Ohio Public Utilities Commission to gouge $3 billion more from ratepayers to keep Davis-Besse and its 50-year-old Sammis coal burner in operation, even though neither can compete on the open market.
The proposed bailout has sparked anger throughout the state. Most of Ohio’s large commercial and industrial energy users oppose the plan, along with the core of the state's consumer and environmental communities. Demonstrations at the PUCO have been well-attended and Ohio’s biggest home newspaper -- the Cleveland Plain-Dealer -- has editorialized against the bail-out.
As a result of public pressure, the PUCO has repeatedly postponed its decision.
Nor has the governor yet weighed in.
But Kasich will ultimately have to be heard on an issue that could decide the state's financial and industrial future. For Ohio's teetering economy, sinking yet another $3 billion into obsolete fossil/nuke burners would be suicidal.
Germany, California and other advanced powers are now transition into a future defined by green power. If Kasich continues to steer Ohio away, the state is doomed to obsolescence and decline.
Technically the issue is the Public Utilities Commission’s to decide. But Kasich is well positioned to become at least the GOP’s Vice-Presidential nominee. Ohio is always a key swing state, making the governor a valuable geographic asset.
As a candidate, where he stands on the future of energy will be heavily scrutinized. Thus far he seems firmly in the Kochcamp, supporting the billionaire brothers' attacks on any energy source that threatens their gargantuan investments in obsolete fossil fuels/nukes.
Should that carry over into support for the extremely unpopular Davis-Besse bailout, Gov. Kasich's already extensive anti-green resume could cause him serious problems as the 2016 presidential campaign progresses.
Kasich Scrapped Energy Program that
Created Jobs and Saved Consumers $230 Million
Kerry Eleveld / Daily Kos
Ohio Gov. John Kasich is going to spend a lot of time talking about his work to improve Ohio's economy, but one thing he won't be touting is his achievement last year of halting a highly successful and popular renewable energy program. Samantha Page has the details:
Ohio's renewable portfolio standard (RPS) had created 25,000 jobs and spurred at least $1 billion in private sector investment.
Kasich disagreed that the RPS had economic benefits. "The well-intentioned strategy developed in 2008 to encourage alternative energy generation mandated levels which are now emerging as a challenge to job creation and Ohio's economic recovery. They are simply unrealistic and will drive up energy costs for job creators and consumers," Kasich said in a statement at the time.
In fact, the program didn't increase energy costs and the only jobs created by cessation of the program went out of state, according to a report by the American Council on Renewable Energy.
The renewable energy and energy efficiency standards in Ohio cut electricity rates by 1.4% from 2008-2012, resulting in cumulative savings of over $230 million. The energy efficiency program alone has saved Ohio residents more than $1 billion since it was implemented. Yet at the same time, Ohio annually sends over $1 billion out-of-state to import coal.
To recap -- legislators in Ohio's state Senate voted to send jobs out-of-state, raise electricity prices, and do something that nearly 3/4ths of registered voters disagree with.
Kasich took over as governor in 2011. But it's unclear how much praise he deserves for helping to boost Ohio's economy, which still lags behind much of the US.
In 2012, Ohio's job growth started to taper off. In the past year, the state's overall employment has grown less than 1 percent, ranking it 45th in the country, according to an analysis maintained by Arizona State University.
Seems like ending an energy program that added 25,000 jobs when you have nearly stagnant job growth isn't the type of sound decision we would hope for in a "jobs" president.
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