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Ohio Lawmakers Debating Energy Efficiency Standards

 
Posted Thursday, May 22nd 2014 @ 5pm  by Matt Bruning

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WSPD) -- The fight is on over energy efficiency standards in Ohio. Current law mandates 12.5 percent of the energy generated by Ohio utilities must come from renewable sources like solar and wind by the year 2025. Another 12.5 percent must be generated from alternative energy sources.

Democrats like Rep. Mike Foley believe pulling or even delaying the standards could harm not only the economy, but the environment.

"Global warming is happening. It's caused by greenhouse gas emissions and it has very real and negative consequences," he said.

Opponents ramped up their efforts to block the bill with a television ad, research findings and protests. They argue targets create jobs and provide alternatives to coal.

"The campaign against this has been the biggest campaign of deception and misinformation I've seen in 14 years," said Sen. Bill Seitz, a Cincinnati Republican. His bill would freeze the standards until something is done. If that doesn't happen by 2017, the current law goes back into effect.

He believes that if something isn't done, electric bills in Ohio will skyrocket between now and 2025.

"We are protecting Ohio rate-payers against massive coming increases in their electric bills," he said.

But opponents of the bill, like Rep. Robert Hagan, a Youngstown Democrat, call the legislation "a big break for big energy." He argues that it will hurt Ohio's economy and consumers.

"This bill amounts to a big handout to utility companies at the expense of Ohio consumers and businesses," said Hagan.

Hagan also spoke out against a book that was distributed to all lawmakers making fun of those who believe climate change. He says it makes some outrageous claims and supporters of the bill are believing them. One that he cited during a Statehouse news conference was that driving electric cars would keep sea levels from rising and using more energy efficient light bulbs would save polar bears.

"This is the kind of bull**** that we have to take into consideration that constantly we're facing when we're trying to make sure that legislation is taking care of the consumers," he said.

Foley handed out a graph that showed a sharp spike in carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere in the last 150 years. It also claimed that 97 percent of scientists agree that climate change is real and caused by humans.

Seitz says calls the energy efficiency standards "green-energy dreams" and says rate-payers should not have to subsidize them. He predicts that the bill will eventually pass.

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