Guest Author: Kylie Johnson, Ohio Environmental Council Action Fund
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.
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:
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
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 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