There are many continuing challenges—and opportunities—to make Ohio a cleaner, greener, more sustainable place to live, work, and play.
The OEC staff has taken stock of the political winds swirling about Capitol Square in Columbus to identify top prospects for success in the new year.
Here are our top 10 picks for "unleashing the power of green" at the Ohio Statehouse in 2013:
1. Energy efficiency.
Energy efficiency improves energy performance, lowers utility bills, puts people to work, and reduces dangerous air emissions. No wonder Governor Kasich calls it “a slam dunk” and named it a “pillar” of his energy policy. But utility giant FirstEnergy disagrees and wants Ohio lawmakers to pull the plug and repeal Ohio's energy efficiency standard. The OEC and partners are going all out to protect the standard.
2. Renewable energy.
Under Ohio law, by 2025, 12.5% of all electric power supplied by Ohio’s four investor-owned utilities must come from renewable energy sources. Fossil fuel-funded think tanks claim the road to American energy independence is paved with coal, oil, and gas.
They’re ignoring two fundamental trends: tightening federal public health standards and increased production costs are making coal more expensive; meanwhile, improved efficiency and growing economies of scale are driving down the cost of renewables.
3. Coal, oil, and gas.
The OEC and partners are pressing lawmakers to further strengthen Ohio law to better protect air and water resources from fracking; step up inspections and enforcement; enable citizens to watchdog mining and drilling companies; protect property owners; and make these lucrative industries pay for the full “external costs” of oversight, enforcement, and clean up.
4. Solid waste & recycling.
The OEC is urging lawmakers to adopt a plan to better enable waste reduction, reuse, and recycling; expand groundwater monitoring near landfills; partner with Ohio industries to step up reuse and recycling of glass, plastic, metal, and paper; and tap landfill gas to power vehicles and supply electricity.
5. Clean water & soil conservation.
The OEC and partners are pressing state regulators to adopt stringent rules to protect fish and wildlife from large water withdrawals from Lake Erie and its tributaries.
We also are pushing for a statewide permitting system to control large water uses in the Ohio River basin. The OEC also is working to reduce nutrient runoff to waterways that fuels harmful algal blooms in Erie and inland lakes.
6. Nature preserves.
Lawmakers stood up for Ohio’s State Nature Preserves in the last budget, maintaining the Ohio Division of Natural Areas & Preserves and providing vital funding. The OEC along with Buckeye Forest Council and the Ohio Natural Areas and Preserves Association once again are asking lawmakers to help "preserve the preserves."
7. Geological survey.
Beneath the Earth’s surface is a treasure trove of valuable mineral deposits and priceless water aquifers, as well as hidden dangers that cause earthquakes, sinkholes, subsiding mines, landslides, and shore erosion. The OEC is advocating for more funding to better map Ohio’s geology to protect public safety, property, and groundwater.
8. Cancer mapping.
Representative Rex Damschroder (R-Fremont) has proposed a Cancer Incidence Surveillance System to require a web-based, systematic, county-by-county reporting of cancers. The OEC is working with the Center for Health, Environment & Justice to pass it into law.
9. Public transit, freight rail, diesel clean up.
The OEC and partners including All Aboard Ohio are pushing for better public transportation funding and more emphasis on energy-saving shipments of freight by rail and water. The OEC also is a leader in the Ohio Diesel Coalition, advocating for sustained funding to clean up older diesel trucks and construction equipment across the state.
10. Clean Ohio Fund.
This popular fund has enabled the preservation of thousands of acres of new parkland and prime, family farmland; construction of hundreds of miles of recreational trails; and clean up and reuse of shuttered industrial sites. The OEC along with The Nature Conservancy and other partners are urging the Kasich administration and lawmakers to allocate the final $52 million in available, voter-approved funding.