EcoWatch Journal February/March 2011 : Page 10

jack shaner Jack Shaner, deputy director and senior director of legislative and public affairs for the Ohio Environmental Council (theoec.org), brings more than 25 years of experience in public interest advocacy and legislative service to Ohio’s environmental community. He can be reached at Jack@the OEC.org. ENVIRONMENTAL POLICY WATCH FOR 2011 As deep winter continues to envelop Ohio, Statehouse corridors and committee hearing rooms once again throb with activity as a new governor and General Assembly roll up their sleeves to tackle Ohio’s problems. While the environment was not a dominant issue in last year’s elections, new Governor John Kasich did stake out a few high profile positions. Most notable was his outspoken opposition to passenger rail service and lack of enthu-siasm for renewable energy. Beyond that, specifics have been few and far between. This leaves many inquiring minds wanting to know: Will Kasich have a “green” agenda? Here are six telling debates to watch in 2011— debates in which Ohio’s environmental community will forcefully advocate for the public interest. Ohio Operating Budget —Educate, medicate, incarcerate. This folksy-sounding trio of needs succinctly sums up the lion’s share of spending priorities in Ohio’s state operating budget. The current two-year, $50 billion budget expires June 30. To close a projected $8 billion gap between current income and spending levels, Kasich has promised to cut both taxes and spending. Natural resource conservation and environmental protection together account for less than one percent of the current budget. But they are hardly immune from cuts as Kasich has proclaimed that all programs are “on the table” for review. Eco-response: Clean air and water, and Ohio’s state parks, nature preserves and forests are priceless investments. Protect them, not neglect them. Oil and Gas Drilling in State Parks —One place lawmakers may be tempted to look for a quick cash fix is through opening Ohio’s state parks and forests to oil and gas drilling. The oil and gas industry is falling over itself to give lawmakers courage, enticing them with claims of $30 million a year in income for the state from leases and royalty payments. The reality, though, is that oil and gas production poses unavoidable impacts before, during and long after the drilling ends: excavation, tree removal, stream crossings, road building, toxic brine disposal, pipe-line and collection tanks. Kasich administration officials say they are “open” to the idea. Eco-response: Keep our state parks open to nature and closed to drilling. Ohio Clean Energy Law —A Republican-controlled legislature voted 125-1 in 2008 to pass Ohio’s landmark Clean Energy Law, requiring investor-owned utility companies to begin achieving two standards by 2025— energy efficiency savings of 22 percent and 12.5 percent supply of electricity power needs from renewable energy sources, including wind and solar. Ohio has enjoyed a surge in clean energy growth, including $750 million in investment and hundreds of new jobs in the solar industry alone. But where does Kasich stand? Candidate Kasich said the new standards would raise consumer costs and are a government intrusion. Late last year, Kasich’s spokesman retreated, flatly stating that the then Governor-elect did not oppose Ohio’s energy standard and would not seek to repeal it. Eco-response: Clean energy cleans the air and grows jobs and investment. Keep it growing. Lake Erie Protection —This eight-state agreement protects Lake Erie and the Great Lakes from depletion and overuse by banning new or increased diversions of water outside of the lakes’ drainage basin and by control-ling overuse within the basin. Ohio lawmakers now have until 2013 to adopt new laws to implement controls over increased withdrawals and consumptive uses of water. Eco groups are advocating for a science-based formula by which state regulators could evaluate industry propos-als to assure sustainable water withdrawals from ground or surface waters that drain to Lake Erie. But industry groups are pushing, instead, for arbitrary limits with no basis in science. Eco-response: Our water is our future. Don’t ignore the science—apply it. Regulatory “Reform” —Kasich is promising to “skinny-down state bureaucracy” and remove regula-tions that block business with outdated or unnecessary regulation. A “regulatory reform” bill pushed by the Ohio Senate in the last session would have required agencies to conduct a cost-benefit analysis that favored business over health and environmental protections. Eco-response: Keep our air and water safe to drink and breathe. Go easy on the “reform.” Public Transportation —Kasich succeeded in derail-ing the proposed 3C train, even before he took office. Now, will he return the Ohio Department of Transporta-tion (ODOT) to a state “transportation” department in name only—one that, for all practical purposes, is only a highway department? A key indicator will be how the Kasich team treats public transit. Each workday, nearly half a million Ohioans ride public transit to work, school and elsewhere. Yet Ohio invests only $1.58 per capita in state spending on transit. Compare that to: IL, $63.29, PA, $61.25 and MI, $20.73. Before leaving office, former ODOT Director Jolene Molitoris pledged $100 million in the next two-year state budget cycle to preserve exist-ing transit services and to provide “clean and green” new vehicles. Will that green investment stand? Eco-response: Help Ohio get on the bus—the public transit bus. Westside CSA, now accepting 2011 Shareholders. 3984 Porter Road Westlake, Ohio 44145 (440) 871-2050 x4 www.deansgreenhouse.com 10 • ECOWATCH JOURNAL WWW. ECOWATCH.ORG

Policy Corner

Jack Shanner

ENVIRONMENTAL POLICY WATCH FOR 2011

As deep winter continues to envelop Ohio, Statehouse corridors and committee hearing rooms once again throb with activity as a new governor and General Assembly roll up their sleeves to tackle Ohio’s problems. While the environment was not a dominant issue in last year’s elections, new Governor John Kasich did stake out a few high profile positions. Most notable was his outspoken opposition to passenger rail service and lack of enthusiasm for renewable energy. Beyond that, specifics have been few and far between. This leaves many inquiring minds wanting to know: Will Kasich have a “green” agenda? Here are six telling debates to watch in 2011— debates in which Ohio’s environmental community will forcefully advocate for the public interest.

Ohio Operating Budget—Educate, medicate, incarcerate. This folksy-sounding trio of needs succinctly sums up the lion’s share of spending priorities in Ohio’s state operating budget. The current two-year, $50 billion budget expires June 30. To close a projected $8 billion gap between current income and spending levels, Kasich has promised to cut both taxes and spending. Natural resource conservation and environmental protection together account for less than one percent of the current budget. But they are hardly immune from cuts as Kasich has proclaimed that all programs are “on the table” for review. Eco-response: Clean air and water, and Ohio’s state parks, nature preserves and forests are priceless investments. Protect them, not neglect them.

Oil and Gas Drilling in State Parks—One place lawmakers may be tempted to look for a quick cash fix is through opening Ohio’s state parks and forests to oil and gas drilling. The oil and gas industry is falling over itself to give lawmakers courage, enticing them with claims of $30 million a year in income for the state from leases and royalty payments. The reality, though, is that oil and gas production poses unavoidable impacts before, during and long after the drilling ends: excavation, tree removal, stream crossings, road building, toxic brine disposal, pipeline and collection tanks. Kasich administration officials say they are “open” to the idea. Eco-response: Keep our state parks open to nature and closed to drilling.

Ohio Clean Energy Law—A Republican-controlled legislature voted 125-1 in 2008 to pass Ohio’s landmark Clean Energy Law, requiring investor-owned utility companies to begin achieving two standards by 2025— energy efficiency savings of 22 percent and 12.5 percent supply of electricity power needs from renewable energy sources, including wind and solar. Ohio has enjoyed a surge in clean energy growth, including $750 million in investment and hundreds of new jobs in the solar industry alone. But where does Kasich stand? Candidate Kasich said the new standards would raise consumer costs and are a government intrusion. Late last year, Kasich’s spokesman retreated, flatly stating that the then Governor-elect did not oppose Ohio’s energy standard and would not seek to repeal it. Eco-response: Clean energy cleans the air and grows jobs and investment. Keep it growing.

Lake Erie Protection—This eight-state agreement protects Lake Erie and the Great Lakes from depletion and overuse by banning new or increased diversions of water outside of the lakes’ drainage basin and by controlling overuse within the basin. Ohio lawmakers now have until 2013 to adopt new laws to implement controls over increased withdrawals and consumptive uses of water.

Eco groups are advocating for a science-based formula by which state regulators could evaluate industry proposals to assure sustainable water withdrawals from ground or surface waters that drain to Lake Erie. But industry groups are pushing, instead, for arbitrary limits with no basis in science. Eco-response: Our water is our future.Don’t ignore the science—apply it.

Regulatory “Reform”—Kasich is promising to “skinny-down state bureaucracy” and remove regulations that block business with outdated or unnecessary regulation. A “regulatory reform” bill pushed by the Ohio Senate in the last session would have required agencies to conduct a cost-benefit analysis that favored business over health and environmental protections.Eco-response: Keep our air and water safe to drink and breathe. Go easy on the “reform.

Public Transportation—Kasich succeeded in derailing the proposed 3C train, even before he took office.Now, will he return the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) to a state “transportation” department in name only—one that, for all practical purposes, is only a highway department? A key indicator will be how the Kasich team treats public transit. Each workday, nearly half a million Ohioans ride public transit to work, school and elsewhere. Yet Ohio invests only $1.58 per capita in state spending on transit. Compare that to: IL, $63.29, PA, $61.25 and MI, $20.73. Before leaving office, former ODOT Director Jolene Molitoris pledged $100 million in the next two-year state budget cycle to preserve existing transit services and to provide “clean and green” new vehicles. Will that green investment stand? Eco-response: Help Ohio get on the bus—the public transit bus.

Read the full article at http://bluetoad.com/article/Policy+Corner+++/628798/60037/article.html.

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