The Van Wert County Courthouse

Friday, Apr. 12, 2024

Alternative energy freeze debate rages

Van Wert independent/submitted information

COLUMBUS — With the debate over alternative energy heating up in Ohio, a group of conservatives has issued a call for a more inclusive energy policy.

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Members of Ohio’s conservative community gathered at the Ohio Statehouse Thursday to announce the launch of the Ohio Conservative Energy Forum, a coalition designed to be a voice for conservative support for a common-sense, all-of-the-above state energy policy. The announcement comes as the Ohio General Assembly considers updates to Ohio’s clean energy standards.

Mike Hartley, a seasoned conservative grassroots leader in Ohio, serves as OHCEF’s executive director. Hartley said that support for a diverse energy portfolio is hardly a new concept for conservatives. “Historically, conservatives have led our country’s efforts to protect and preserve our natural resources,” he said. “When it comes to the energy debate, the issue has become polarizing, and often dominated by the left. We founded the OHCEF because we believe an all-of-the-above approach to energy policy is key to the future success of our state, our nation, and our world.”

The group adds its voice to a debate over the future of alternative energy in Ohio. Another voice in favor of renewable energy is Ohio Governor John Kasich, who said earlier in the week he found “unacceptable” a recommendation by the Ohio legislative committee tasked with reviewing the state’s renewable energy standards to extend the state’s two-year freeze on U.S. EPA Clean Power Plan mandates.

The freeze has halted investment in Ohio by alternative energy companies, such as Iberdrola Renewables, the wind energy company responsible for the Blue Creek Wind Farm in Van Wert and Paulding counties.

Several state conservative political leaders and business groups have sided with continuing the freeze, including the Ohio Chamber of Commerce.

“We believe the freeze should be extended until all the uncertainties of the Clean Power Plan have been resolved,” said Charles Willoughby, director of energy and environmental policy for the Ohio Chamber.

However, local Chamber President/CEO Susan Munroe disagrees (see story below on this page), noting the significant investments in clean energy that have benefited Van Wert and neighboring counties. “(There are) more than $1 billon in prospective investments in our county from renewable energy,” Munroe noted. “Let’s not lose this staggering economic development and job growth opportunity to another state due to legislative uncertainty.”

State Senator Cliff Hite, while commending the legislative committee for a “transparent and open study committee process,” said he has reservations about extending the alternative energy freeze, which he said would harm his Senate district.

“My northwest Ohio Senate district along has seen almost $800 million in clean energy investments and job creation since 2008, which has added stability and diversity to Ohio’s energy portfolio,” Hite noted. “I am hopeful that we will consider legislation to address these issues and support further development of wind energy throughout Ohio.”

The Ohio Conservative Energy Forum’s members say they respect the traditional energy industries that have made Ohio great, but also feel a responsibility to respond to a changing world with conservative values based in faith, economic realities, and the principles of good government.

The OHCEF is founded on a Statement of Principles that outlines support based in five areas:

Faith — Conservatives have a mandate from God to be good stewards of the earth and to protect the health and quality of life for all His children.

Economy — Diversified energy sources protect consumers, the state, and the country from volatile prices of traditional fuels. Ohio is among the top 10 states in total energy consumption, and the cost of importing traditional fuel is a drain on Ohio’s economy. Alternative energy keeps money and jobs in Ohio, with advanced energy businesses employing more than 25,000 Ohioans and contributing billions of dollars annually to Ohio’s economy.

National Security — Traditional fuel costs are set on a world market dominated by nations hostile to this country — America does not control production or consumption, and therefore does not control international pricing. In addition, the American military spends billions transporting foreign fuel sources. It is in this nation’s interest to pursue energy security by diversifying energy sources, encouraging new technologies, and moving to domestic, cleaner forms of energy.

Public Policy — State leaders are writing the next chapter of Ohio’s energy policy right now. Conservatives need to speak up and participate in local, state, and federal energy policy deliberations.

Politics — Survey research shows all voters — conservatives and liberals, Democrats and Republicans –see clean, efficient energy as our future. There is great support among all voters — particularly younger moderate to conservative voters — for pursuing advanced, clean, and cost-efficient energy solutions. Republicans and conservatives must lead on these issues to be relevant to future generations of voters.

The goal of the OHCEF is to provide a vehicle for individuals, organizations, and businesses to join the conservative conversation about Ohio’s energy future in pursuit of an all-of-the-above energy policy that lowers systemic costs by increasing commitment to developing homegrown clean energy resources and expanding energy efficiency.

Roberta Combs, president of the Christian Coalition, was on hand for the event. “The Christian Coalition of America has great concern about the recent trend of policy initiatives that seek to dismantle state renewable energy and energy efficiency standards throughout the country — including the current situation with Ohio’s energy policy and where appears to be headed,” Combs said.

Colonel Tom Moe, U.S. Air Force retired, sits on the OHCEF’s Leadership Council. He said that from a military perspective, supporting energy diversification only makes sense. “It’s very simple — reliance on foreign oil is a weakness, economically, strategically, and militarily,” Moe said. We rely on other countries — some hostile to the U.S. — to fuel our nation, something that creates enormous military risk and costs. If these channels of transportation were to become unavailable, the world’s economy would crumble. This dependence puts us in a precarious political and economic position.”

OHCEF Leadership Council members Zach Upton, chairman of Ohio Young Republicans, and Christian Pancake, chairman of the Ohio College Republican Federation, noted the importance of clean and renewable energy to future generations of voters.

“If conservatives continue to sit on the sidelines of clean energy, we will lose this issue,” Upton said. “An entire generation of voters will tune out conservative elected leaders when they talk about energy. This is unacceptable to the next generation of Republicans and unacceptable for a strong future for the Republican Party.”

“Young Republicans and conservatives care about energy efficiency and they are starving for leadership from Republican leaders on this issue,” Pancake said. “The future of the Republican party, and conservatives, hinges on issues like these.”

The OHCEF Leadership Council is made up of Mike Hartley, executive director, OHCEF; Tyler Duvelius, Christian Coalition state energy director-Ohio; James L. Ervin Jr., attorney and president, Ohio Black Republicans Association; Mike Gonidakis, president, Ohio Right to Life; Terry McClure, farmer, Paulding County; Colonel Tom Moe U.S. Air Force Retired; Christian Pancake, chairman, Ohio College Republican Federation; Brian Stewart, Pickaway County commissioner; and Zach Upton, Beavercreek city councilman and chairman, Ohio Young Republicans.

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POSTED: 10/02/15 at 8:24 am. FILED UNDER: News