Defending Clean Energy in Ohio and Beyond
If you watched this week's episode of Showtime's climate series Years of Living Dangerously, you saw a fantastic piece by America Ferrera called "Against the Wind" that pierced the veil of the fossil fuel industry's well-funded operation to try and dismantle state clean energy standards. The episode could not have been more timely, as that same relentless attack continues unfolding in real time this spring in statehouses around the U.S. One of the most pitched battles is taking place right now in Ohio.
As the Years episode explained, many states require utilities to provide a certain amount of power from clean energy sources that don't pollute our air and water or disrupt our climate. These state standards (which have wonky names like "renewable portfolio standards" and "energy efficiency resource standards") have been important building blocks in getting clean energy to scale. Because these policies work, they pose a real threat to dirty energy - once people realize they get cheap, clean energy from the sun and wind, while also creating jobs and benefiting the local economy, they aren't turning back to the dirty energy sources of the past.
That's why fossil fuel interests are fighting relentlessly to roll back these state clean energy standards. As the Years episode revealed, much of this work is carried out under the auspices a right-wing outfit called the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC, with backing from the fossil fuel baron Koch brothers. So far, we've stopped them - in 2013 we defeated every single attempt to gut a state clean energy standard, and even strengthened a couple. But the dirty fuel industry isn't giving up just yet.
Ohio clean energy advocates are currently fighting a push to destroy the state's energy efficiency and clean energy standards. These standards support well over 25,000 Ohio jobs and the energy efficiency standard has generated $1.3 billion in energy savings for consumers so far! The Cleveland Plain Dealer recently reported that the clean energy standard has brought more than $1 billion in private capital investment to the Buckeye State over five years -- and has created thousands of jobs.
And Ohioans love the standards as well: A recent poll by the Ohio Advanced Energy Economy showed that 86 percent of Ohio voters support the state's current energy efficiency law. The same poll showed that 72 percent of Ohio voters said "we should continue to replace traditional sources of energy like coal with wind and solar power." (Ohioans - take action here to defend the standards!)
The good news in all these dirty fuels attacks on clean energy is this: We can win. The MSNBC show All In with Chris Hayes just aired this excellent piece on how the Koch Brothers keep losing in their own home state of Kansas, where they have tried and failed multiple times to roll back that state's wildly successful clean energy standard. They're failing in part because the people of Kansas are realizing the benefits of clean energy, and have no interest in turning back the clock. As rancher and wind farmer Pete Farrell puts it, as a drought linked to climate disruption threatens his ranch and his livelihood, "Wind is my most drought resilient crop."
If we are going to keep winning these fights in Ohio and around the country, we need your help. Join us!
-- Mary Anne Hitt, Director of the Sierra Club Beyond Coal Campaign