Kasich Faces GOP Rebellion Back Home Over Environmentalist Mandates

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Andrew Follett Energy and Science Reporter
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Republican Gov. John Kasich, who is busy touring the country on the presidential campaign trail, is facing a rebellion within his own party back home in Ohio.

Ohio lawmakers could soon introduce legislation to permanently freeze the state’s green energy mandate over the objections of Kasich, a fervent supporter of mandating wind and solar power.

Republicans in both state legislative chambers could push a bill to gut an Ohio law mandating the state get 25 percent of its power from green energy by 2025, despite reported veto threats and hostile rhetoric from Kasich. The governor is already at odds with his own party over the state’s energy future.

“I tend to agree with Gov. Kasich’s federal energy policy proposal,” Republican State Rep. Kristina Roegner told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “Unfortunately, Ohio’s own energy mandates are driving up costs for consumers and will continue to do so unless the legislature takes action.”

Republicans in both state legislative chambers could be days away from a compromise with the governor over the mandate, potentially by broadening Ohio’s narrow definition of “renewable” to include other energy sources that produce few carbon emissions like nuclear power or natural gas. Such a compromise would quickly bring Ohio into compliance with the original mandate.

“It’s important to remember that if the General Assembly and the governor can’t reach an agreement then we go back to the Strickland standards, which neither wants. So it’s a very interesting situation.” energy policy expert Joe Nichols of the conservative Buckeye Institute wrote in an email to TheDCNF. “We feel strongly that the mandate is a bad policy and we were disheartened by the governor’s comments, but we’re confident that they can compromise on something less harmful to Ohio’s economy than the Strickland standards.”

When Ohio passed its mandate in 2008 under Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland, a period of slow economic growth followed, but 28 other states had similar policies forcing more green energy onto the grid. Now, with more state legislatures in the hands of Republicans, green energy mandates are being repealed or scaled back across the country. States like Kansas, West Virginia, Texas, Michigan, New Mexico, and Colorado have already repealed their renewable energy mandates. In 2014, Ohio froze its mandate for two years.  The state’s economy responded by outperforming the neighboring states that year, growing at a rate of 2.1 percent.

A committee of lawmakers, co-chaired by Rep. Kristina Roegner, determined that the mandate was increasing the price of energy for Ohio consumers and costing the state $18 billion annually– a little more than 3 percent of the state’s $583.3 billion gross domestic product in 2014. Analysis by the committee suggested that Ohio’s unemployment rate would have increased to 10 percent if the original standard had been fully implemented.

Other analysis suggests that Ohio’s renewable energy mandate is responsible for 29,366 lost jobs and caused a $3,842 reduction in average household income. A similar green energy mandate in Kansas caused that state to have 5,500 fewer jobs and $4,367 less income per household, according to a study by Utah State University.

Other opponents of repealing the energy mandate claim that a permanent freeze would cause Ohio to be “left behind by other states looking toward a future when we will be more efficiently using increasingly sustainable, locally produced sources of energy that create good jobs for Ohioans.”

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