Author: Tanner Yess (Groundwork Ohio River Valley) and Savannah Sullivan (Green Umbrella)
Since spring 2021, Groundwork Ohio River Valley and Green Umbrella have led Climate Advisory Groups (CAG) in Lower Price Hill, Bond Hill and Roselawn, and the Beekman Corridor (English Woods, Millvale, North Fairmount, South Cumminsville, and South Fairmount) in partnership with the City of Cincinnati’s Office of Environment and Sustainability. The CAGs brought together dozens of community leaders of all ages to raise awareness of climate impacts in our most vulnerable communities, create climate resilience plans, and engage community members in government climate planning. These efforts were led through Groundwork Ohio River Valley and Green Umbrella’s Climate Safe Neighborhoods Partnership, which is dedicated to centering underserved communities, equity, and justice in regional climate planning efforts in Greater Cincinnati.
With climate resilience plans in hand, the next step is to organize local residents, community-based organizations, businesses, and government entities to implement the neighborhood-level vision. Climate Safe Neighborhoods is excited to share that three tree plantings were successfully completed this fall as a result of the resident-led resilience plans:
Beekman Corridor (South Cumminsville): 9 trees planted on resident property with residents. Trees planted by Groundwork's Green Corps.
Bond Hill and Roselawn: 6 trees planted on resident property with residents. Trees planted by Groundwork's Green Corps and funded by a Taking Root grant led by Margaux Roberts, a former CAG Resident Leader and current Community Organizer for Groundwork.
Lower Price Hill: 90 large street trees planted with Cincinnati Parks. Over 180 volunteers from Madtree Brewing and residents helped Groundwork and Parks staff plant trees on right-of-way/sidewalks and city property.
Next steps for the Climate Safe Neighborhoods Partnership includes finalizing a 2023 strategic implementation plan. The Groundwork and Green Umbrella team members are in the process of project planning–to learn more, reach out to the Climate Safe Neighborhoods Director, Savannah Sullivan (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Climate Safe Neighborhoods Lead, Kelsey Hawkins-Johnson (email@example.com).
Did you know the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP27) just wrapped up? Below are some of the strategies and agreements leaders and advocates from across the world agreed on to limit global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
The COP meeting demonstrated the significance of every day climate actions on humanity’s ability to slow down a warming planet. It is because of advocates like yourself that Green Umbrella is able to support local climate action initiatives. Will you consider donating to Green Umbrella to further the mission of creating resilient and equitable communities across our region?
Guest Author: Krutarth Jain, President, AIA Cincinnati
The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law includes historic funding levels - a total of $225 million – for building energy codes updates, adoption, and implementation. It will be available through the Department of Energy’s new Resilient and Efficient Codes Implementation grant program, with the application process expected to open in fall 2022. The funding presents an opportunity for Green Umbrella and its members to make significant progress towards their sustainability and resilience goals, provided Region members are ready to take advantage of the opportunity.
In preparation for DOE’s funding, AIA Cincinnati is building relationships with key municipal officials and encouraging members to get involved in the development of the new Green Cincinnati plan. As subject-matter experts in the design/build environment, architects are uniquely positioned to help guide and shape projects like Green Cincinnati, and to partner with Cincinnati 2030 District members committed to developing sustainable buildings. Updated and enforced building energy codes are a necessary part of that sustainable development.
The current administration announced its National Initiative to Advance Building Codes in June, to help state, local, Tribal, and territorial governments develop resilient and sustainable communities in ways that lower energy costs and create jobs. According to a report from the National Institute of Building Sciences, resilience investments produce, on average, an ROI of $11 for every $1 spent, and the Department of Energy estimates that residential code updates pay for themselves in less than four years, while commercial buildings see a positive net return in the very first year.
The Resilient and Efficient Codes Implementation program will provide competitive grants to state agencies and their partners that have demonstrated intent and capacity to advance their energy, climate, and resilience goals. Grant funding can be used for adoption and/or implementation of updated building energy codes; expanded workforce development opportunities; codes compliance; and advancement of equity, energy, and environmental justice.
The program is structured such that state government agencies must be the lead entities on grant applications. However, DOE strongly encourages agencies to form partnerships with organizations and other entities that provide expertise related to codes adoption and implementation. These potential partnerships represent a significant opportunity for members of both Green Umbrella and the Cincinnati 2030 District, and AIA Cincinnati is eager to partner with members at all phases of planning, application, and execution of DOE funding-related initiatives.
The Resilient and Efficient Codes Implementation grants are potentially game-changing opportunities for cities and states to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve resilience, and provide billions of dollars in energy savings for families and business owners. AIA Cincinnati stands ready to partner with Green Umbrella, Cincinnati 2030 District members, and similar entities in the important work of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and creating more resilient, sustainable, and equitable communities. Read the full Notice of Intent here.
More details on the Resilient and Efficient Codes Implementation program are available here, and well as in AIA’s summary.
In May, AIA National hosted a webinar with the Department of Energy, to discuss the both the energy codes grants and other funding made available via the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. That webinar can be viewed here.
Guest Authors: Kylie Johnson, Ohio Environmental Council Action Fund
Nolan Rutschilling, Kylie Johnson, and Councilmember Meeka Owens
Even when it was first introduced, President Biden’s Build Back Better plan wastouted as the most significant federal action ever taken to cut greenhouse gas emissions. But the plan was met with resistance over the past year and a half, and at one point this summer completely stalled and its passage declared nearly impossible. However, many provisions in the President’s original plan evolved to become the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), which includes historic investments in clean energy projects, jobs, and incentives to build the energy grid for today and tomorrow. For Ohio, the investment means cleaner air, more electric vehicles on the road, a bolstered advanced manufacturing sector, and lower energy bills. The Ohio Environmental Council (OEC) Action Fund launched a major statewide ad campaign to raise awareness of the IRA’s climate and jobs provisions. To learn more, read the press release.
ENVIRONMENTAL POLICY AT THE FEDERAL LEVEL:
A MAJOR Climate Victory
In August, Congress passed the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022—cost-saving legislation that makes overdue investments in clean energy, improves energy security, and will build a more affordable, healthy, just, and equitable future. The combined investments in the bill put the U.S. on a path to roughly 40% emissions reduction by 2030, and represent the single biggest climate investment in U.S. history, by far. For more on the Inflation Reduction Act, please visit this resource page from our partners at the League of Conservation Voters, or check out this recent Statehouse News Bureau interview featuring OEC Action Fund Political Director Spencer Dirrig.
The OEC and Power a Clean Future Ohio go to Washington, DC!
In August, Joe Flarida, Executive Director of Power a Clean Future Ohio (PCFO), testified before the U.S. Senate Banking Committee in coordination with the Ohio Environmental Council’s (OEC) Energy team. The invitation came from the Committee Chair Senator Brown to highlight a new report the OEC published with Power a Clean Future Ohio and Scioto Analysis outlining the cost on local governments to deal with climate change. The hearing focused on the financial impact of climate change. The testimony and the report accounts for costs associated with climate adaptations that fall on municipal budgets, including infrastructure improvements, public health services, natural systems protections, and more.
Senator Brown started the hearing with a powerful statement: “Climate change is here. The country knows it. Ask mayors, ask school superintendents, ask county commissioners about the increasing costs they deal with already because of climate change—costs we know will only get worse—and we know who will be forced to pay for these costs. It’s not the oil companies making record profits… it’s the local taxpayers. The likely impact of climate change could cost people in my state $6 billion a year.”
You can view the hearing online and read our joint press release with Power a Clean Future Ohio.
CLIMATE POLICY AT THE STATE LEVEL:
A Return to Business in the Capitol
State legislators returned to Columbus to kick-off another “Lame Duck” session for the remainder of the year. Activity might pick back up again in mid-November. Some of the bills the OEC Action Fund will advocate for and play defense against include:
SB 320 Voter ID Requirements - Senator Gavarone / HB 650 Voter ID Requirements - Representatives Wiggam & Young
HB 385 National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Permit Prohibition in Western Lake Erie Basin - Representative Cross
HB 685 Pipeline Tax Incentives - Representatives Jon Cross and Jay Edwards
SJR 2 Water Bond - Senators Gavarone and Yuko
SB 313 To Revise Coastal Management at ODNR - Senators Gavarone and Manning
HB 317 PUCO reform/ratemaking - Representative Wilkin
HB 389 Energy Efficiency Programs - Representatives Seitz and Leland
HB 450 Community Solar - Representative Baldridge
HB 596 Electronic Voting for Overseas Veterans - Representatives A. Miller and Hicks-Hudson
HB 641 Permanent Absent Voter List - Representative Skindell
Any items that aren’t signed into law this year will have to start the process over again next year as the 135th General Assembly will officially begin with any new or returning state legislators.
A BIG Win for Wind Energy
North America's first freshwater offshore wind farm was cleared to move forward after the Ohio Supreme Court, in a 6-1 decision, approved a permit for the Icebreaker Wind Project in August! For more than 10 years, the Ohio Environmental Council carefully studied, strongly supported, and, ultimately, fiercely defended the Icebreaker Wind project as it faced significant opposition from fossil fuel interests. This project is an exciting six-turbine wind energy demonstration project in Lake Erie that will be a strong win for our environment and our economy—helping us combat air pollution and climate change while also creating more than 500 jobs and injecting $253 million into the local economy.
The Ohio Supreme Court decision is a huge victory for Ohioans who deserve bold action on climate change and a healthier environment. Learn more about the decision and our 10 years of advocacy with our interactive timeline.
Long-Term H2Ohio Planning
Over the last several months, our team met with environmental and industry partners to map out a course to secure long-term public funding for H2Ohio, the state’s well-rounded, science-based water quality improvement program. While public support from the Governor likely won’t occur until after his general election is over, this informal coalition is looking to approve a state constitutional amendment to trigger the acquisition of bonds to fund the program. Stable funding would ensure the program could continue the work already being done for a 10-year period, rather than two years at a time as it is currently funded. H2Ohio needs to finalize an advocacy strategy in the coming weeks as well as key details for this proposal, and develop public polling to assess the support of voters. More action will likely occur later in the next month and a half during the “Lame Duck” session.
Congressional Redistricting Fight Continues
Unfortunately, members of the Ohio Redistricting Commission blocked voter-supported fair maps reform for the 2022 election, forcing Ohioans to vote in primaries on May 3 and the general election on November 8 under an unconstitutional congressional district plan. Still, the fight continues. Partners filed appeals of the second gerrymandered congressional plan in March, and the OEC filed an amicus brief in support of that appeal on May 5, 2022 as well as a reply amicus brief.
In July, the Ohio Supreme Court invalidated the second congressional map, once again striking a victory for redistricting advocates. On October 14, Ohio’s top Republican lawmakers announced they are appealing the ruling by the Ohio Supreme Court that renders the state’s congressional map unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court. We continue to monitor this case and do our part in the fight for fair maps.
CLIMATE POLICY AT THE LOCAL LEVEL:
2023 Green Cincinnati Plan Progress
The Green Cincinnati Plan (GCP) effort has helped establish Cincinnati as a national leader in sustainability. The Plan has been updated every five years since 2008, largely through a community engagement process. The 2023 plan will establish aggressive carbon neutrality goals by 2050, with a near-term 50% reduction by 2030.
From August to October, community members participated in Focus Area meetings to provide insight and feedback on the next iteration of the Plan. Now efforts will enter a time of assessment, analysis, and review by other key stakeholders before the finalized Plan resurfaces for Council approval in early spring 2023. You can continue to keep track of the Plan progress by visiting the Green Cincinnati Plan CitizenLab website.
City of Cincinnati Updates
In the FY22 Carryover Budget, Cincinnati allocated:
$3.5M for Parks:
$1.5M for stream stabilization efforts in California Woods
$1M for renovation in the lower portion of Inwood Park
$1M for erosion stabilization efforts in Smale Riverfront Park
$3M for neighborhood pedestrian improvement projects
$2.3M for Parks and Recreation projects, including improvements to Bold Face Park and MLK Jr. Park
Mayor Aftab Pureval recommitted the city to the 10-Minute Walk Program of the Trust for Public Land, a commitment to make sure every Cincinnatian lives within walking distance of a park or other public greenspace.
The City applied for a U.S. EPA Brownfields Assessment Grant Program grant. If received, the funds will be used to provide resources for brownfield inventories, environmental assessments, community engagement plans, and other similar work in the environmentally vulnerable neighborhoods along the Lower Mill Creek Industrial Corridor.
Councilmember Meeka D. Owens sponsored a presentation and resolution in support of a grant application by the Cardinal Land Conservancy to preserve land in the Wooden Shoe Hollow area of Cincinnati.
Councilmember Mark Jeffreys will be introducing a “Complete Streets” ordinance this November, prioritizing people-first street designs.
The Bill is Coming Due for Cincinnati
In September, OEC’s Managing Director of Energy Policy Nolan Rutschilling joined Southwest Ohio Regional Director Kylie Johnson in Cincinnati to present at the Cincinnati Climate, Environment & Infrastructure (CEI) Committee meeting. Nolan’s presentation outlined the OEC’s latest report with Power a Clean Future Ohio and Scioto Analysis that breaks down the financial costs of climate change for Ohio municipalities. Nolan highlighted specific costs coming due for Cincinnati with the intent of providing local leaders with the information needed to take bold climate action. Councilmember Meeka Owens, Chair of the CEI Committee, has been a strong champion of the report. At the July statewide press briefing, she joined Youngstown City Councilmember Lauren McNally and Toledo City Councilmember Nick Komives to discuss the report’s significance. To watch Nolan’s testimony at the CEI Committee, visit CitiCable.
Each and every day, we’re proud to continue fighting for a healthier environment for all Ohioans, especially alongside partners like Green Umbrella. If you’re interested in getting updates and action alerts from the OEC Action Fund, please sign up here. We encourage you to follow our Facebook and Twitter pages for regular updates. You can also visit the OEC Action Fund website for the 2021 legislative scorecard update, and be on the lookout for a full 134th General Assembly scorecard update in early 2023!
Climate Equity In Cincinnati, OH
Prior to completing the Climate Equity Benchmarking Analysis Report, the City of Cincinnati, University of Cincinnati, Green Umbrella, Groundwork Ohio River Valley, and Adaptation International collaborated to complete the Cincinnati Climate Equity Indicators Report in 2021. The data revealed the differences in quality of life in each of the 52 neighborhoods, and quantitatively demonstrated why some communities were more vulnerable to climate change than others. Factors such as tree canopy coverage, proximity to pollution sources, and high percentages of impervious surfaces all contribute to higher incidence of respiratory diseases amongst other health problems. To better prepare all Cincinnati communities for the climate crisis, the City of Cincinnati’s Office of Environmental Sustainability commissioned Green Umbrella to examine innovative climate equity plans, ordinances and initiatives in 20 U.S cities.
Our analysis drew from evaluation and data measurement methods developed by the Institute for Sustainable Communities and Georgetown Climate Center. The case studies were then selected based on their proximity to Cincinnati, population size, and ability to demonstrate actionable strategies that equitably improve quality of life for community members. Cities included:
Kamikatsu, Japan and Paris, France served as international examples. National case studies included the Whitehouse Justice40 online community engagement portal, a national community resilience hub training network, and the Climate Justice Act of Illinois.
Identified strategies were then organized around eight key “Focus Areas” that local governments can take action on to draw down greenhouse gas emissions, improve the predictability of their budgets, and address inequities. Focus Area categories included City Operations, Buildings & Energy, Education and Outreach, Food, Mobility, Natural Environment, Mobility, Resilience, and Zero Waste. The analysis also categorized case studies by five types of equity:
Recognition Equity: Identifying and acknowledging injustices affecting specific populations
Procedural Equity: Addressing power structures and access to participation in decision-making
Distributional Equity: Addressing the distribution of burdens and benefits across different populations
Restorative Equity: Making a commitment to correct past harms and facilitate repair
Transformative Equity:Addressing underlying structural conditions that are the root cause of social and racial injustices. Strategies cultivate accountability, reduce harm, and prevent future unintended consequences.
We created a sortable matrix of the 400+ strategies, and then identified themes within the different types of equity–the report provides descriptions of these themes, as well as guiding questions to support communities in the development of their own tailored approaches.
Read the full Climate Equity Analysis Benchmarking Report here!
Currently, Green Umbrella is continuing to support the 2023 Green Cincinnati Plan process by participating in the Equity Committee and generating one-pagers for every Focus Area Subcommittee on the relevant themes from the report. We are also partnering with Groundwork Ohio River Valley to co-lead the Climate Safe Community Series, which is four meetings to engage underserved community members across 11 of our Cincinnati most climate vulnerable neighborhoods. The findings from the report are supporting our direct engagement, catalyzing and aligning with ideas from local residents.
Green Umbrella is also committed to ensuring these equitable themes support communities across our 10-county region and inform the development of actions led by the recently launched Greater Cincinnati Regional Climate Collaborative.
Take action right now through the following:
If you’re a Cincinnati resident, attend one of the upcoming public Focus Area Meetings.
Complete our Regional Climate Collaborative Launch Survey before October 5 to ensure your voice is included in our assessment of climate impacts and desired climate actions!
Join a Regional Climate Collaborative Working Group Feedback Session to share your thoughts on what kind of equitable climate actions you want to see in your community, and how Green Umbrella can support action and provide resources.
If you have any questions or comments on the report, reach out to the Green Umbrella Climate Policy Team: Savannah (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Tyeisha (email@example.com)!
Guest Blog Author: Darryl Franklin, Beekman Corridor Climate Advisory Group
This guest blog post from a partner organization or individual reflects the work and opinions of the author and does not reflect action taken by Green Umbrella staff or board.
In summer 2022, Groundwork Ohio River Valley and Green Umbrella hosted the Beekman Corridor Climate Advisory Group (CAG) in partnership with the City of Cincinnati’s Office of Environment and Sustainability and Working in Neighborhoods. The CAG brought together 16 community leaders of all ages from the following neighborhoods: English Woods, Millvale, North Fairmount, South Cumminsville, and South Fairmount. The goals of the CAG are to raise awareness of climate impacts in our most vulnerable communities, create climate resilience plans, and engage community members in government climate planning. This project was led through the Climate Safe Neighborhoods Partnership, which is dedicated to centering underserved communities, equity, and justice in regional climate planning efforts in Greater Cincinnati.
I am Darryl Franklin. I have lived in North Fairmount since 1967. I am a Navy veteran, a retired sheet metal worker, and a musician. I served as North Fairmount Community Council President (1987-1992) and I have a Bachelor’s Degree in Organizational Leadership from the University of Cincinnati. Most importantly, I am married and the father of four.
I attended my first Climate Advisory Group meeting full of skepticism, fully expecting a lot of talk and little or no action. I was pleasantly surprised to find a more than competent group of leaders/organizers who not only have plans, but also have a track record of successful community involvement. Their dedication to climate awareness has inspired me to commit to work toward climate remediation and resiliency, and to spread the word that climate change affects us all, and we can all do our part to save our planet. I believe this group’s efforts can, and will, bring organizations and communities together to promote neighborhood climate resiliency.
The City of Cincinnati’s Green Cincinnati Plan, which our Climate Advisory Group work has informed, has six focus areas: 1) Natural Environment, 2) Food, 3) Buildings and Energy, 4) Zero Waste, 5) Advocacy and Outreach, and 6) Mobility. Together they form the framework for developing a comprehensive approach to community involvement in recognizing, understanding, and acting to confront climate change. Community members, volunteers, and activists collaborate with Green Cincinnati Plan organizers to develop climate resiliency strategies that are designed for each neighborhood.
As a resident of the Beekman Street Corridor, I am currently the liaison for the Zero Waste Subcommittee. Our goal is to bring awareness to composting, recycling, reusing, and reducing waste to zero. My hope is that my friends and neighbors become aware of the services available to assist our community in creating and implementing our Climate Resiliency Plan that is effective, equitable, and sustainable.
Guest Author: Kylie Johnson, Ohio Environmental Council Action Fund
The need for serious action on climate has been highlighted this summer — from dangerous heat waves to devastating blackouts, right here in our community.
A new report by the Ohio Environmental Council, Power a Clean Future Ohio, and Scioto Analysis estimates that these climate impacts come at a steep cost. The report, The Bill is Coming Due: Calculating the Financial Cost of Climate Change to Ohio’s Local Governments, provides a conservative estimate of the additional costs that municipalities — including Cincinnati — can expect to incur due to climate change. Across the state, local governments will need to increase municipal spending by as much as $5.9 billion annually by 2050 in order to adapt to the challenges of a worsening climate crisis. To learn more, please visit: https://www.poweracleanfuture.org/oh-municipal-costs-of-climate-change
ENVIRONMENTAL POLICY AT THE FEDERAL LEVEL
Examining the Impact of SCOTUS’s WV v. EPA Decision
In June, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down a destructive and dangerous decision in West Virginia vs EPA. This specific ruling significantly limits the U.S. EPA’s ability to regulate carbon emissions coming from existing power plants—endangering the health of our communities and planet in favor of polluters—at a time when we need every tool in the toolbox to combat the climate crisis. The decision rejects a well-established precedent that, for more than 50 years, has enabled the EPA to require pollution reductions in the interest of cleaner air and safer water. As a result, communities—especially communities of color historically overburdened by pollution—will be at a much greater risk of breathing dirtier air and suffering from the increased impacts of climate change.
You can read more about the Ohio Environmental Council’s reaction to the ruling here and the need for good judges to protect our environment here.
Congressional Action on Climate Stalls with Reconciliation Bill
At the federal level, the OEC Action Fund and our partners at the League of Conservation Voters have been pushing for climate action to be included in the Senate reconciliation deal and continue to monitor the back-and-forth negotiations. As Congress debates the measure, it is imperative that President Biden and his administration take sweeping executive action right now to reduce climate pollution and ensure no dirty fossil fuel projects move forward. Join our partners at LCV in demanding action to advance climate justice now.
CLIMATE POLICY AT THE STATE LEVEL
The Ohio General Assembly is on recess through mid-November, which means things are quiet at the Statehouse for the moment.
The OEC Action Fund took advantage of the quiet to host a webinar in late June 2022 that brought together our team of experts to discuss what environmental policy we’ve been tracking at the local, state, and federal level through the first half of the year — and noting what’s to come. While you may not have been able to attend, we encourage you to check out our Look Back, Look Forward: Statewide Environmental Policy Briefing.
Hear from our policy experts on the State of Ohio’s Environment:
[ ENERGY VIDEO ]
[ LAND VIDEO ]
[ WATER VIDEO ]
[ DEMOCRACY VIDEO ]
Watch our short videos and share with your networks.
A few highlights when it comes to climate policy if reading is more your speed:
A WIN for solar! Senate Bill 61 signed into law
In June, the OEC Action Fund welcomed the signing of Senate Bill 61. The bipartisan legislation, sponsored by Senators Louis Blessing (R-Cincinnati) and Nickie Antonio (D-Lakewood), eliminates market barriers for solar development by preventing homeowner associations (HOAs) from imposing unfair restrictions on homeowners that want to go solar.
Continuing the Fight Against House Bill 6
July marks three years since the “worst energy bill of the 21st century” was signed into law, two years since former House Speaker Larry Householder and four others were arrested for their role is the corruption scheme around HB 6, and one year since FirstEnergy admitted to bribing elected officials to pass the bad bill.
HB 6 was always a bad deal for Ohioans, sticking us with dirtier air and higher utility bills while gutting our clean energy future. While part of the bad bill was repealed, Ohioans are still on the hook. We're paying $287,671 every day to bail out the outdated, dirty coal plants owned by the majority of Ohio’s utility companies. And our state is falling further behind with no renewable energy and energy efficiency standards on the books.
We continue to fight for the full repeal of HB 6 while also fighting for the future of our state. That’s why legislation like the Energy Jobs and Justice Act is so important.
Promoting the Energy Jobs & Justice Act
It is clear that after decades of energy policy that largely favors utilities and fossil fuels, Ohio needs forward-looking, equitable solutions that are good for our economy, our communities, and our health. Even over summer recess, the OEC Action Fund continues its advocacy work on the Energy Jobs & Justice Act (Ohio House Bill 429)—an intentionally-designed, comprehensive clean energy policy rooted in equity, economic development, and accountability. The legislation aims to move Ohio toward a more equitable clean energy future by encouraging clean energy growth, energy waste reduction, and curbing utility influence over policymaking and regulatory actions. Importantly, the legislation centers on equitable policy design to make sure those most historically and disproportionately harmed by Ohio’s regressive energy policies benefit most from a clean energy transition. All with the goal to ensure 100% carbon-free electricity generation and use by 2050!
To learn more about the Energy Jobs and Justice Act and to get updates on advocacy actions, sign up here. Be on the lookout for opportunities to plug in this fall!
CLIMATE POLICY AT THE LOCAL LEVEL
The Green Cincinnati Plan (GCP) effort has helped establish Cincinnati as a national leader in sustainability. The Plan has been updated every 5 years since 2008 largely through a community engagement process. On March 31, 2022, nearly 300 people attended the 2023 GCP kickoff event at the Cincinnati Zoo and offered feedback on what the Plan update should include. During the kickoff, Mayor Aftab Pureval and City Councilmember Meeka Owens, Chair of the GCP Steering Committee, emphasized the importance of centering equity and environmental justice in the Plan update. The 2023 plan will establish aggressive carbon neutrality goals by 2050, with a near-term 50% reduction by 2030.
Now through October, the City of Cincinnati’s Office of Environment & Sustainability (OES) is conducting public meetings for community members to provide insight and feedback on the next iteration of the Green Cincinnati Plan. Ohio Environmental Council Southwest Ohio Regional Director, Kylie Johnson, will be leading the Advocacy, Education & Outreach Focus Area meetings on September 8th and October 19th from 6-7:30 pm. To learn more, you can watch a recording of the kickoff event on CitiCable and view the community meeting schedule on the OES website.
Mayor Aftab Pureval speaking at the Green Cincinnati Plan kickoff event at the Cincinnati Zoo
Join Green Umbrella for the first Working Group Feedback Sessions for our Regional Climate Collaborative—a network that will support regional governments, organizations, and their communities to design and implement equitable climate solutions across Greater Cincinnati.
Working Group sessions are open to the public and will be held virtually via Zoom. Anyone can join any of the following groups listed in bold below. Please use the individual registration links highlighted in green for whichever working group(s) you are interested in joining. You must register for access to the meeting Zoom link.
**Each session has two dates/times shown. Both will feature the same content for each working group, so you only need to attend one. We're offering multiple to accommodate different schedules.**
Building Local Capacity Working Group: how we can increase local government staff capacity to act on climate; implement equitable climate plans, projects programs, and policies; and create workforce opportunities for the next generation of climate professionals -- including a fellowship program for local governments
August 17 @ 11AM-12PM: Register here
September 14 @ 6-7PM: Register here
Community Listening and Engagement Working Group: how we can center community voice, experience, and expertise in climate plans, projects, programs, and policies -- especially communities of color, low-income community members, youth, and the elderly
Elected Officials Working Group: how we build political will among electeds and those running for office, and support efforts at the local to state level
Regional Resources and Outreach Working Group: how we can raise awareness of climate impacts and solutions, and develop resources to accelerate action across the region -- including funding and a Regional Climate Action Playbook
About the Regional Climate Collaborative
Through our Climate Policy program, Green Umbrella is dedicated to working with regional local governments and their communities to kickstart and accelerate climate action in Greater Cincinnati. Regional Climate Collaboratives are a proven model that help communities share best practices, align local initiatives, develop opportunities for regional collaboration, and help secure funding and technical assistance to collectively address climate impacts. With this launch, Greater Cincinnati joins more than 30 other Regional Climate Collaboratives currently working to improve the quality of life in communities, resilience of infrastructure, and predictability of budgets. Green Umbrella’s Climate Policy team will act as the primary facilitator of this ongoing program and will work directly with governments, organizations, and other institutions who join as members.
Learn more about Green Umbrella's Climate Policy program and contact our Climate Policy Director, Savannah Sullivan, with any questions: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Guest Authors: Margaret Minzner and Lauren Kleve, OKI Regional Council of Governments
The Green Umbrella Greenspace Action Team, formed decades ago, actively sought to define Greenspace, map a proposed Greenspace green print, map the regional Greenspace and measure the change in Greenspace over the years. The team was successful, exceeded goals, and ultimately started to focus attention on the next steps.
In 2018, the team had lengthy discussions about how to use the existing Greenspace layer to best plan for Greenspace in the region. As the Action teams transitioned into Impact Teams, a subset of the team decided to tackle how the region should prioritize Greenspace. Prioritization of Greenspace is complicated because priorities can vary. For instance, an Urban Greenspace may not have high biodiversity or endangered species but could be vital to areas with limited Greenspace. On the other hand, in areas with ample Greenspace, the criteria of what should be protected might be high. Also, each partnering organization for a project may have different priorities, so it was decided that a suitability model would best assess and prioritize areas for conservation and protection.
At the same time, the Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana Regional Council of Governments (OKI) was considering a similar project. OKI is a council of local governments, business organizations, and community groups committed to developing collaborative strategies to improve the quality of life and the region's economic vitality.
OKI is responsible for developing a Discussion on Environmental Mitigation as part of its regional transportation planning. The discussion considers potential mitigation activities and areas for their regional application, which may have the most significant potential to restore and maintain the environmental functions affected by the regional transportation plan. One outcome of the Environmental Consultations was a discussion on regional mitigation needs.
Environmental Mitigation and Suitability Modeler Workshop participants learn and run their models.
Through the Environmental consultations, a need to help identify potential environmental mitigation projects in the region was brought to OKI’s attention. There is a concern that the service areas extend outside the OKI Region, but much of the environmental impact occurs within the OKI Region. OKI saw an opportunity to support efforts to find potential mitigation projects within our organization by providing more detailed mapping capabilities. However, this effort needed to adapt to many needs in the region. OKI used an approach that leveraged data and analysis, allowing the end user to model different potential scenarios. An adaptable model was needed to respond to the needs of stakeholders within three states, eight counties, two USACE Districts, and multiple compensatory mitigation service areas with different expectations. While there are similarities in the layers used for analysis, often, potential mitigation projects focus on impaired sites suitable for restoration vs. high-quality areas for protection.
Since this model would have multiple applications, extensive research was required. The requirements for what makes an excellent environmental mitigation project can differ depending on the type of mitigations (Stream, wetland, species) or even between states. In 2021, OKI interviewed agencies to determine the level of analysis needed, layers to include, etc. Everyone had different ideas of what needed to be included in a prioritization model. Three draft versions were presented to stakeholders before settling on the final modeler. In Fall 2021, OKI followed up with a final presentation to the participating agencies to view the product before releasing online.
OKI identified GIS layers that should be included in the model through Consultation Efforts. The layers included many federal datasets, which were important in the model (21 total). They have more specific stream data (impaired and parcels with stream length greater than ½ mile) and local Urban Tree Canopy data. OKI used federal or state datasets whenever possible so that others could build similar models without developing their own datasets. In this model, EPA’s EJScreen (Environmental Justice) layers were used so that suitability analysis could include EJ demographics, traffic exposure, respiratory health issues, and cancer incidence.
The Environmental Mitigation and Suitability Model (EMSM) works using a Weighted Raster Overlay or WRO. The WRO combines several raster layers based on user-defined layers' weights and classes within each layer. Each raster layer is assigned a weight in the suitability analysis. Raster layers are overlaid, multiplying each raster cell's suitability value by layer weight and totaling the values to derive a suitability weighted value or score. These values are written to new cells in an output layer displayed as a new raster with pixels rated 1-9, with nine the most representative of the model.
The EMSM was released in fall 2021. Since then, there have been multiple workshops and training to promote use for local government planning, developers, and conservation groups. The tool has been used over 1000 times in the past year. Some of our partners have shared their purposes for using the model, including:
An in-lieu fee provider using the tool to find potential stream mitigation sites
A tree planting initiative that used the equity indicators and canopy cover to find communities for tree planting initiatives
A soil and water conservation district using the tool to predict where there may be bat habitat
Since the application was created in-house with federally available datasets, the EMSM has become a great example of how to bring high-level suitability analysis to communities that might not otherwise have access to the software and the training required. This project has also been presented at several regional, national, and even international events, including the Midwest Sustainability Summit, ESRI’s Geodesign Summit and Users’ Conference, The National Mitigation and Ecological banking Conference, and the International Conference on Ecology and Transportation, so that others might be able to develop their own models building on our work.
As with most web applications, thoughts on updates emerge almost as soon as the application is released. There have been updates to the Urban Tree Canopy dataset, additional data layers from the EPA EJ Screen, and scheduled data updates and maintenance. Additional functionality is also being considered for the next update, but the most critical next steps involve the continued promotion of this tool to local communities. The Green Umbrella Greenspace Impact team is currently planning on how the tool can be used regionally to support a regional greenspace conservation/restoration plan.
If you have any feedback, questions, or want to see other layers represented in the Environmental Mitigation and Suitability Model, please contact Margaret Minzner by email at MMinzner@oki.org.
Guest Blog Author: Kylie Johnson, Ohio Environmental Council Action Fund
Quick Summary: In 2022, the OEC Action Fund continues to speak out for clean air, safe water, vibrant public lands, bold climate action, and a strong democracy. The fight to protect our environment has never been easy—but Ohio’s future is worth it. The OEC Action Fund provides a brief update on the latest federal, state, and local policy news for you here.
Happy Earth Day!
When you work for an organization that advocates for good environmental policy, every day is Earth Day. During the first quarter of 2022, I was proud to work alongside my colleagues at Ohio Environmental Council (OEC) Action Fund to advance key policy priorities on Capitol Hill, at the Ohio Statehouse, and in city halls across the Buckeye State. We’re proud to provide a brief update on some of those policy wins for you here.
For those that aren’t familiar, the OEC Action Fund is the accountability and lobbying arm of the OEC family of organizations. The OEC Action Fund advances critical environmental priorities, holds policy makers accountable, and works to elect environmental champions and pass park levies that expand access to public land.
The investments in the federal bipartisan infrastructure law (Infrastructure Investments and Jobs Act) passed in November 2021 will benefit Ohio in many ways. In addition to traditional infrastructure funds, the bill focuses on building resilient communities in the face of climate change. While final estimates are yet to be announced, the White House has estimated how much funding Ohio will receive over the next five years.
Some notable appropriations include:
$140 million over five years to support the expansion of an electric vehicle (EV) charging network in the state, part of a larger effort to accelerate the adoption of EVs to address the climate crisis and support domestic manufacturing jobs.
$1.2 billion to improve public transportation options across the state and accelerate opportunities for communities to provide healthy, sustainable transportation.
$256 million over five years to clean up “orphaned” oil and gas wells which, if not properly capped, can release dangerous methane pollution into the air.
$1 billion set aside for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, including funding to accelerate clean up of Ohio’s Black, Cuyahoga, and Maumee rivers on Ohio’s north coast.
$1.4 billion for water infrastructure improvements across the state through the Clean Water State Revolving Fund and Drinking Water State Revolving Fund programs. This funding will help finance critical water infrastructure projects throughout the state, including eliminating lead service lines, supporting stormwater management practices, and upgrading water and wastewater treatment systems.
Additional funding will accelerate reforestation projects on national forestland, improve energy efficiency in buildings and the industrial sector through weatherization programs, and strengthen recycling systems in Ohio.
Lead Pipe And Paint Action Plan
In December, the Biden-Harris Administration announced an ambitious Lead Pipe and Paint Action Plan to accelerate the replacement of lead water pipes in the next decade while focusing on disadvantaged communities. The plan will disburse $2.9 billion from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law for lead pipe replacement to states, tribes and territories in 2022. Of these funds, Ohio will receive $71 million specifically earmarked for lead service line replacement. Other key highlights of this historic plan include developing additional rulemaking to strengthen key provisions of the Lead and Copper Rule to be completed by 2024, publishing guidance for local water systems that will outline critical steps to achieve 100% lead service line replacement, and creating a new cabinet-level partnership for lead remediation in schools and child care centers.
New Regulations to #CutMethane
Methane pollution from the oil and gas industry is fueling the climate crisis, and threatening the health and safety of communities across Ohio and the country. In November, the U.S. EPA proposed new regulations to reduce methane emissions from the oil and gas industry. The proposed rules would require operators to regularly find and fix their emissions. Our Energy Team testified before the U.S. EPA in early December to let them know we need the strongest safeguards possible—for the health of our communities and our climate.
State of the Environment
In March, Gov. DeWine delivered his 2022 State of the State address. Our team at the OEC Action Fund closely watched the speech and here’s what we heard:
Here’s what we heard:
Governor DeWine is committed to continue growing Ohio’s great State Parks system, and he emphasized how important parks and greenspace are to our communities and our health.
Governor DeWine highlighted some plans to partner with Ohio’s Appalachian communities to define an investment strategy that makes sense for the region, including growing eco-tourism opportunities in the region.
Governor DeWine mentioned continued investments through the H2Ohio program that will go a long way to restore Ohio’s waterways and wetlands, minimize algal blooms, and fix aging drinking water systems.
Here’s what we didn’t hear:
Governor DeWine mentioned the need to attract employers to Ohio, citing a “good regulatory environment,” but he did not mention the fastest-growing job sector in the country—wind and solar energy. Unfortunately, in Ohio, the environment for renewable energy businesses has been slowed down by regulatory uncertainty and unnecessary red-tape during Governor DeWine’s tenure.
During his address, Gov. DeWine failed to mention the redistricting crisis happening under his watch. By voting in favor of partisan-gerrymandered district maps and signing the legislation establishing unconstitutional congressional district maps, he has failed to follow the clear directive of Ohio voters—we need and deserve fair districts for all people.
But that’s not the full picture when it comes to Ohio’s environment. We recently interviewed OEC Action Fund staff to learn more about the policies and actions Gov. DeWine and Ohio lawmakers have taken to support clean air, land, and water—or to damage our environment and democracy.
Hear from our policy experts on the State of Ohio’s Environment by watching the following 3-minute videos:
The OEC Action Fund continues the fight against House Bill 6—known widely as the worst energy bill of the 21st century. Since news broke that this bad legislation passed as part of “likely the largest bribery, money laundering scheme ever perpetrated against the people of the state of Ohio,” we demanded its full and immediate repeal. We have seen some success, but there is still more work to do. We continue to work with partners across the state to draw attention to the Ohio Valley Electric Corporation (OVEC) coal bailout passed as part of HB 6. We also continue to put pressure on legislators to remove these subsidies, which damage Ohioans’ health, pocketbooks, and our environment. In December, the OEC Action Fund released a video with Reps. Casey Weinstein and Jeff Crossman as we traveled to Madison, Indiana to see one of two OVEC-owned coal plants.
It is clear that after decades of energy policy that largely favors utilities and fossil fuels, Ohio needs forward-looking, equitable solutions that are good for our economy, our communities, and our health. The OEC Action Fund continues its advocacy work on the Energy Jobs & Justice Act (Ohio House Bill 429)—an intentionally-designed, comprehensive clean energy policy rooted in equity, economic development, and accountability. The legislation aims to move Ohio toward a more equitable clean energy future by encouraging clean energy growth, energy waste reduction, and curbing utility influence over policymaking and regulatory actions. Importantly, the legislation centers on equitable policy design to make sure those most historically and disproportionately harmed by Ohio’s regressive energy policies benefit most from a clean energy transition. All with the goal to ensure 100% carbon-free electricity generation and use by 2050! To learn more about the Energy Jobs and Justice Act and to get updates on advocacy actions, sign up here.
Advancing Community Solar
The OEC Action Fund continues to support House Bill 450, legislation which would enable community solar across Ohio. The bill permits the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio to certify up to 1,000 megawatts (MWs) of community solar projects and an additional 5,00 MWs at distressed sites, with at least a quarter of the total community solar projects required to be located in Appalachia. More on this exciting bill here.
Supporting Solar for Condos and Homeowners Associations
With the passage of Senate Bill 61 through the Senate, solar advocates who live in condominiums are one step closer to having their right to install solar on their roof protected from restrictive homeowner association rules. The bipartisan bill, supported by the OEC Action Fund and many of our partners, would let owners subject to condo or other homeowner association rules install solar if their unit includes the roof. The bill would let associations “establish reasonable restrictions” on solar panels’ size, place, and manner of placement, but it will potentially expand access to solar to hundreds of thousands of Ohioans. More on this exciting bill here.
All environmental policy is passed by legislators, whether at city councils, at the statehouse, or in Congress. When Ohioans don’t have fair districts–when our vote is intentionally weakened to serve the power of partisan politicians–it makes it harder to fight climate change and invest in renewable energy, two things the majority of Ohioans want.
It can be hard to keep track of ALL the news surrounding Ohio’s redistricting process. We encourage you to learn more about the many updates in the fight for fair maps from our sibling organization, the OEC, here.
Cincinnati Makes History: First Committee Focused on Climate Change
At the local level, the OEC Action Fund has been focused on supporting the Cincinnati Administration’s environmental policy priorities. In January, Cincinnati City Council held the first meeting of the new Climate, Environment and Infrastructure Committee—the first of its kind not only in Cincinnati but, we believe, in the country. The committee meets every other Tuesday throughout the year at 11 AM. Visit the City Council website for the schedule of committee meetings. You can attend meetings in-person, via live stream, or watch recordings of previous meetings.
City of Cincinnati Announces Green Cincinnati Plan Renewal
On March 17, Mayor Aftab Pureval and Councilmember Meeka Owens announced the renewal of the Green Cincinnati Plan. The Plan was adopted in 2008 and later revised and readopted in 2013 and 2018. The updated Plan will prioritize climate equity and environmental justice. “We are creating the foundation to protect our environment, combat the disproportionate effects of climate change on our Black and Brown residents, and set Cincinnati up as a pioneer in the green economy,” Pureval said. New environmental policy initiatives for the City of Cincinnati were also announced during the press conference, including the commitment to fully transition the city fleet to electric by 2035. You can watch the press conference announcing the Green Cincinnati Plan and share your input for the 2023 Plan update by completing the Community Climate Change Survey.
Each and every day we’re proud to continue fighting for a healthier environment for all Ohioans, especially alongside partners like Green Umbrella. If you’re interested in getting updates and action alerts from the OEC Action Fund, please sign up here. We encourage you to follow our Facebook and Twitter pages for regular updates. You can also visit the OEC Action Fund website for the 2021 legislative scorecard update.
Please also be sure to follow our sibling organization, the Ohio Environmental Council, for additional educational opportunities. Sign up here or follow OEC’s Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram pages for regular updates.
Savannah Sullivan, Climate Policy Director
Green Umbrella | PO Box 14270Cincinnati, OH 45250 | (513) 541-1538