In case you missed it, Ohio took a U-turn on its sustainable energy roadmap; Kasich approved

Last Sunday, hundreds of thousands of demonstrators marched through the streets of downtown Manhattan in what was the world’s largest-ever event to raise awareness on climate change. Some 537.6 miles away–the distance between Times Square and the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus–the news likely fell on majority deaf ears, as members of the Republican-controlled executive and legislative branches have already cast their votes to derail Ohio’s climate progress.

Since his election in 2010, Governor Kasich has had a lukewarm record on environmental issues. He managed to take somewhat of a stand (can we call this a stand?) in April 2012 when he tepidly admitted that he believes climate change is real. But, as they say, actions speak louder than words, and his belief in the reality of climate change hasn’t seemed to shape his executive priorities.

Ohio’s Senate Bill 310, passed by the General Assembly and signed by Governor Kasich in June of 2014, is arguably one of the most flagrant examples of hostility from state Republicans towards the development of a renewable energy industry in the state of Ohio. SB 310 places a two-year freeze on the gradual renewable energy scale-up mandated by Senate Bill 221, a piece of legislation passed in 2008 and signed during the Strickland administration which, as written, would lower Ohio’s energy consumption by 22% by the year 2025. Senate Bill 221, establishing one of the strongest and most ambitious energy efficiency standards of any state in the country, was passed just 6 years ago by a Republican-controlled by a margin of 132-1 (House and Senate combined). Tellingly, Senate Bill 310 found the majority of its backing from a mix of business interests and various right-leaning groups such as Americans for Prosperity and the Ohio Chamber of Commerce, determined not to bend to the rules of the preeminent piece of legislation.

SB 310’s passage will likely mark a terrible setback for green energy in Ohio, as its effects damage the market for “renewable energy certificates,” which have become a key incentive for bringing green development projects to the state of Ohio. As an editorial in the Cleveland Plain Dealer warned at the time, “this would be the first time in any state, anywhere in the entire United States, that a renewable portfolio standard would be reduced, frozen or repealed.”

Nevertheless, some green energy projects are still going forward, despite better incentive packages existing in other states. A $1.8 million plan to construct a solar array at an office building in the Columbus suburb of Gahanna was recently announced, where solar power is expected to supply about 30 percent of the building’s energy needs, equivalent to the annual needs of about 60 houses.

Take a look at this video produced by Moving Ohio Forward for another perspective on the state government’s plan to pull a U-turn on its own sustainable roadmap.