Zack Space will Fix our Gerrymandered Districts

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By Heather Taylor-Miesle, Ohio Environmental Council Action Fund PAC President

Gerrymandering is a huge issue in Ohio… in fact, our state has one of the most polarized maps in the country, meaning the voices and votes of our communities go largely unheard. At the Ohio Environmental Council Action Fund PAC, we believe a fair democracy is the first step toward a fair vote on the issues we care about most, including environment, which is why we need a fair Auditor of State who will be a leader on redrawing our district lines in a more accurate way.

The OEC family of organizations, alongside the League of Women Voters and Common Cause Ohio, NAACP, and Innovation Ohio, worked tirelessly on passing a ballot measure in May 2018 — known as Issue 1 — that will require a process of drawing our districts that is both fair and bipartisan. The first-of-its-kind amendment will end gerrymandering once and for all and give the power back to voters.

Space has made redistricting a top priority and will serve on the redistricting commission to draw better districts for the 2022 election cycle and beyond. As a former Public Defender and Congressman, Space has seen first-hand what redistricting does to a community, especially one that is underserved. Space championed working class Ohioans while in Congress and we believe he will continue to do the same as Auditor of State.

The Action Fund PAC looks forward to supporting Space during his campaign and we are eager to work with him in office, to make sure our districts are drawn as fairly as possible so that we can come together on the issues that matter most.

Paid for by the Ohio Environmental Council Action Fund PAC

Statement: The Ohio Environmental Council Action Fund PAC Endorses Zack Space for Auditor of State

Columbus, Ohio -- The Auditor of State serves as Ohio’s top taxpayer watchdog, a position with broad authority to review all spending of taxpayer dollars. The Ohio Environmental Action Fund PAC believes that the Auditor of State can be our best ally in auditing and protecting environmental program funds, while shining the light on lost economic opportunities of a clean energy economy, which is why we endorse Zack Space for Auditor of State.

Growing up in eastern Ohio, Space saw firsthand the generational over-reliance on natural resource extraction that has stunted the development of a resilient, regional economy. As Auditor of State, Space will ensure that Ohio comes together on these issues, especially at the intersection of our environment, our economy and our public health. Space knows that clean air, water, and public lands are the building blocks of a healthy, thriving economy - not mutually exclusive of one another.

“The contrast between candidates on environmental issues couldn’t be clearer,” said Ohio Environmental Council Action Fund PAC President Heather Taylor-Miesle. “While Space’s opponent, Keith Faber, wants to keep Ohio’s renewable energy industry stifled, Zack understands that diversifying our energy portfolio and encouraging renewable energy investment is imperative for both the health of Ohio’s environment and a secure economic future.”

"For too long, corporate interests have controlled the self-interested politicians in the General Assembly, killing clean energy jobs and blocking billions in provable investments associated with new energy technologies,” said Zack Space. “As Auditor of State, I’ll shine a light on the corrupting influence of money in our politics, and hold accountable the politicians who have undermined our energy future to advance their political careers."

Space has also made the issue of redistricting a key focus of his campaign and understands that hyper-partisan legislative districts have disenfranchised and divided communities, polarizing our political landscape and making it incredibly difficult to reach compromise.

"Gerrymandering enables extremism and excludes millions of Ohioans from being properly represented in government,” said Space. “Ohioans have been disenfranchised and excluded from their government as a result of this hyperpartisan process for over a generation, and I will use my position on the Redistricting Commission to end gerrymandering by creating as many competitive legislative districts as possible.”

“Zack Space is balanced and fair. His experience working as a Public Defender and Congressman makes him acutely aware of the polarization our State is facing,” said Taylor-Miesle. “He’s seen the damaging effect that gerrymandering has had on our communities and the OEC Action Fund PAC is confident that he will work to find a solution.”

This November, we have a chance to vote for leaders who will help propel environmental policies forward. We look forward to supporting Space throughout his campaign and when in office, we will continue to work with him on issues that protect Ohio’s families.

Paid for by the Ohio Environmental Council Action Fund PAC

Statement: The Ohio Environmental Council Action Fund PAC Endorses Richard Cordray for Ohio Governor

Columbus, Ohio -- The Ohio Environmental Council Action Fund PAC is pleased to announce its endorsement of Richard Cordray for Ohio governor. Ohio’s next governor needs to be a leader on the environment, and Cordray has exhibited the kind of passion and understanding Ohio needs in order to make real progress on environmental issues in our state.

“Richard Cordray has demonstrated a willingness to make environmental policy a priority during his term,” said Ohio Environmental Council Action Fund PAC President, Heather Taylor-Miesle. “We did not make this decision lightly. Long hours and conversations went into making this endorsement and we are confident that Cordray will deliver on environmental progress.”

Cordray has made clean energy a key part of his campaign and understands that Ohio is falling drastically behind on the clean energy revolution. Our state, once known as a leader in the energy industry, now currently ranks #38 in renewable energy development thanks to a state legislature that has turned back the clock on the renewable energy sector, sacrificing billions of dollars in revenue in the process. Other states are seeing a rise in good-paying jobs in the clean energy sector — the fastest growing job sector in the world — while Ohio continually lags behind. Cordray understands this risk to our future. Once in office, Cordray promises he will invest in solar power to create more local jobs, starting with AEP’s proposal for a 400 MW facility in Appalachian Ohio, one of the most underserved regions of our state.

"If we're going to move Ohio into the future, it's imperative that we embrace our incredible potential to harness clean and renewable sources of energy like wind and solar,” said Cordray. “As Governor, my approach to energy will help protect our environment, while still creating jobs and keeping energy costs down for middle class families."

While Cordary works to bolster Ohio’s clean energy economy, he’ll also be focused on another important issue to Ohioans — the health of our Great Lake.

When 400,000 Ohioans go without drinking water for three days, hospitals shut down, businesses and schools close, and there is no clear resolve in sight, we call that a crisis. The Toledo Water Crisis was one of the worst algae-blooms on record in Ohio and scientists are already predicting another significant bloom this year. The unpredictability and severity of these blooms leave Ohioans worried about their drinking water, their places of recreation, and their health. The cause of the blooms, high phosphorus levels from nutrient runoff, place strain on Ohio’s important agricultural industry.

Cordray has proven his devotion to the one in seven Ohioans that the agricultural industry employs. With the help of the Action Fund PAC, Cordray will fight for a solution that protects farmers and our Great Lake so that blooms are eradicated for good. Once in office, Cordray plans to appoint an Assistant Director of Food Policy and Rural Development in the Ohio Department of Agriculture who will work on improving farm policies to prevent algal-blooms.

“The toxic algae bloom in Lake Erie has blighted our environment and has hurt the economy and well-being of communities along the coast. This problem must finally be addressed by our state government with urgency that is commensurate with the harm that the algae bloom has caused,” said Cordray. “As Governor and Lt. Governor, Betty Sutton and I will bring everyone to the table — including farmers, local leaders, environmental advocates, and affected Ohioans — to find solutions and implement them in an effective and sustainable manner.”

The November election is critical in choosing leaders who will push Ohio forward on environmental policy and protect our families. We are eager to work with Cordray on all of our most pressing issues across the state to ensure clean air, water, and public lands for all.

Paid for by the Ohio Environmental Council Action Fund PAC

Cordray Cares about Ohio Families and the Environment

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By Heather Taylor-Miesle, President of the Ohio Environmental Council Action Fund PAC

The Ohio Environmental Council Action Fund PAC proudly announces an endorsement for Richard Cordray for Ohio governor. Cordray exhibits the kind of character and passion Ohio needs in order to make real progress on environmental issues in our state.

Cordray has made energy a key part of his campaign and understands that Ohio is falling drastically behind on the clean energy revolution. We not only are missing out on thousands of new jobs but billions of dollars in tax revenue that we could be using for much needed improvements in our communities.

Up until now, Ohio has largely ignored and even worked to halt progress on clean energy development. Once in office, Cordray has promised to invest in solar power to create more local jobs, starting with AEP’s proposal for a 400 MW facility in Appalachian Ohio, one of the most underserved regions of our state.  

We need a governor who will take drinking water issues seriously. Ohio cannot afford another crisis like the Toledo Water Crisis in 2014 when 400,000 people were left without useable water. Hospitals, schools, and businesses were shut down for three days while we desperately waited for answers. The toxic algae bloom that caused this crisis could have done so much more damage and it is likely to happen again this year if we don’t put immediate pressure on our lawmakers to instill regulations on agricultural runoff, the lead cause of algal-blooms.

Cordray is devoted to the one in seven Ohioans who are employed by the agriculture industry and the Action Fund PAC believes we can work with him to find a positive solution for farmers and those who depend on Lake Erie for drinking water. With the right steps, algae blooms can be eradicated.

Clean air, water, and land are the building blocks of a healthy environment and economy, which is why we need a governor like Cordray who will take these issues seriously and make sure they do not go unnoticed for another four years.

Please join us in telling Cordray he has our vote.

PAID FOR BY THE OHIO ENVIRONMENTAL COUNCIL ACTION FUND PAC

New version of Ohio House Bill 114 is a Mishmash of Good, Better & Bad

By Trish Demeter

On May 16, the Ohio Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee introduced a new version of HB 114, and the new package is a mash-up of great moves, and better provisions than last year’s House version, but contains a few Trojan horse amendments that could tear down Ohio’s efficiency opportunity from the inside out.

While the Ohio Environmental Council Action Fund’s opposed position on this clean energy standards rollback bill has not changed since its introduction in early 2017, we must commend the Ohio Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee for their  more reasonable, common sense efforts when it comes to approaching clean energy policy.

Our unmoving opposition to this bill is due to the fact that even with all the good changes, the legislation contains provisions that would more than likely increase harmful air pollution throughout the state. Compared to the status quo, this impact is unacceptable.  

The introduction of the substitute bill got the attention of editorial boards, namely the Akron Beacon Journal, which cited a very timely report called Powering Ohio (released in late May) which found that the state could attract $25 billion in investment and add 20,000 jobs if the state were to create an environment in which clean energy could flourish.

The good:

  • Corrects the overly-burdensome wind turbine siting requirements enacted four years ago that essentially established a de facto moratorium on new wind farms in Ohio. This change has the potential of unlocking approximately 3,000 megawatts of new wind development in the state which is enough to power over 100,000 homes
  • Adds a provision that increases the size threshold from 5 megawatts to 20 megawatts for behind-the-meter wind projects that would have to undergo lengthy Ohio Power Siting Board review and approval. This will shorten the timeline for companies that seek to put small wind projects on their property in order to power their businesses with up to 100% wind power.

The better-than-before measures:

  • Maintaining minimum mandatory renewable and efficiency standards, rather than voluntary goals.
  • Removes expanded definitions of energy efficiency that allow utilities to count efficiency measures that they had no hand in creating.
  • Puts some constraints on the previously carte blanche expanded opt out for some business customers such as a delayed effective date of January 1, 2020, and imposes some reporting requirements for the businesses that choose to opt-out.

The bad:

  • Cuts down the cumulative targets for Ohio’s renewable portfolio standard (RPS) and energy efficiency resource standard (EERS). The RPS is lowered from 12.5% by 2027 to 8.5% by 2022, and the EERS is lowered from 22.2% by 2027 to 17.5% EERS by 2026
  • Maintains an expanded opt out under the EERS for “mercantile” customers, which is a huge swath of customers ranging from a string of convenience stores, to a hospital campus, to a mid-size manufacturer.
  • Adds a provision that allows utilities to earn shared savings incentives on energy savings that they have banked from previous years, which is a stark departure from past PUCO decisions on whether or not utilities could earn profits on previously-achieved savings. This change would turn an incentive payment mechanism designed to encourage utilities to go above and beyond minimum benchmark into a profit guarantee of approximately $500 million, regardless of whether the utilities are running good efficiency programs or not.

On Wednesday, June 20, the OEC Action Fund will testify in opposition of this bill in front of the Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee.

During the week of June 25th, it’s highly likely that the committee invites Opponent testimony, amends the bill, passes it out of committee, and schedules it for a full Senate floor vote, and possibly over to the Ohio House for concurrence.

The timeline is incredibly short, and it’s still unclear what the Ohio House would do with this new version of the bill, and not to mention Ohio Governor John Kasich, who has reaffirmed several times a veto threat of a bill that rolls back Ohio’s standards. Not only has the Ohio House already affirmed they would like to repeal the “mandates” via their vote on HB 114 in March 2017, they also house the preeminent anti-wind energy crusader, Rep. Bill Seitz, who continues to have a powerful voice among his colleagues on this issue.

While we cannot predict the exact outcome of this bill, we can bet it’s going to be an interesting few weeks.

Statement from the Ohio Environmental Council Action Fund on Rep Ryan Smith’s Speaker of the House victory

Columbus, Ohio — The following statement may be attributed to Sarah Spence, the Ohio Environmental Council Action Fund’s Government Affairs Director, on Rep. Ryan Smith (R- Bidwell) being named Speaker of the Ohio House of Representatives.

“The Ohio Environmental Council Action Fund is looking forward to working with Speaker Smith on addressing the environmental issues that matter to Ohio communities. We congratulate the new Speaker on his victory and are eager to find commonsense solutions to Ohio’s pressing environmental concerns including protecting drinking water, ensuring adequate protections from oil and gas development, and expanding Ohio’s clean energy opportunities.”

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Statement from the Ohio Environmental Council Action Fund on SB 299 the “Clean Lake 2020 Plan”

Columbus, Ohio Today, the Ohio Senate Finance Committee passed SB 299 also known as the Clean Lake 2020 Plan. The following statement can be attributed in full, or in part, to Peter Bucher, Water Resources Director at the Ohio Environmental Council Action Fund.

“This legislation is a well rounded, short term approach that will provide some much needed resources to combat harmful algal blooms in Lake Erie. Not only does it provide support for agricultural equipment and technology to reduce phosphorus runoff, it supports research efforts and the people power to assist farmers in developing best management practices. Prioritizing these funds to watersheds within the western Lake Erie basin watershed will help ensure the Soil and Water Phosphorus program is efficient and effective.”

“We’re hopeful the Senate will take quick action on this legislation with a full floor vote. With another large algal bloom predicted for this year we need to utilize as many resources as possible to reverse this trend and clean up Lake Erie.”

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Statement from the Ohio Environmental Council Action Fund on the Passage of Orphan Well Bill in the Ohio Senate

Columbus, Ohio -- Today, the Ohio Senate unanimously passed HB 225, which includes a number of improvements to Ohio law to expedite the plugging of abandoned oil and gas wells by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR). In January, the bill unanimously passed in the Ohio House. The following statement in regards to HB 225 can be attributed in part, or in full to Melanie Houston, Director of Climate Programs:

“We commend members of the Ohio Senate for advancing a bill that is certainly in the interest of the public and Ohio’s natural environment. 

“Orphan wells pose a hazard to the environment and to human health and safety. Until they are located and properly plugged, they provide unnecessary health, safety and groundwater contamination risks. Orphan wells have been found under school buildings, houses and streets, and even in lawns and recreation areas in both rural and urban areas.

“This bill improves the Orphan Well Program and gives ODNR Division of Oil and Gas clear guidance and the ability to expedite the plugging of hazardous abandoned and orphaned wells throughout Ohio.”

OHIO SENATE: In Renacci vs. Brown, Stakes Are High for Ohio’s Clean Energy Jobs, Air & Water

Senator Sherrod Brown fights for Ohioans as Jim Renacci sells out clean air, water & land to corporate polluters & his fellow Washington lobbyists

Washington, D.C.  Lobbyist-turned-Congressman Jim Renacci would threaten Ohio’s clean air, water, and growing clean energy economy if elected to the U.S. Senate – and the League of Conservation Voters (LCV) Victory Fund will be out in force to ensure Ohioans know that Senator Sherrod Brown is the only candidate who will fight for our health and environment.

LOBBYIST JIM RENACCI:                      

X Repeatedly voted to slash funding to protect clean drinking water

X Opposed efforts to restore funding to the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and voted to eliminate safeguards to prevent invasive species from invading Lake Erie

X Voted to gut the Environmental Protection Agency and severely weaken its ability to enforce clean air, clean water, and public health safeguards

X Was still a registered lobbyist when elected to Congress and failed to disclose nearly $50,000 in donations

X Has a pathetic 3 percent lifetime score on LCV’s National Environmental Scorecard

SENATOR SHERROD BROWN:

 Champions clean water, including having two bills signed into law to protect drinking water from lead contamination

 Fights to protect Lake Erie from toxic algae, including working across the aisle to pass the Drinking Water Protection Act

 Secured funding for the first-ever wind farm in Lake Erie and supports expanding clean, renewable energy jobs in Ohio and across the country

 Stands up to Big Oil and the Koch Brothers by pushing to repeal billions in tax breaks for polluting special interests

 Has a stellar 93 percent lifetime score on LCV’s National Environmental Scorecard

“Jim Renacci is out of step with Ohio and has no business representing us in the U.S. Senate,” said Aryeh Alex, Director of the Ohio Environmental Council Action Fund. “While Senator Sherrod Brown has been a champion for clean water – passing bills to fight lead contamination and working to clean up Lake Erie, which supports 124,000 Ohio jobs – Renacci’s voting record shows he only cares about making profits for the polluting special interests who fund his campaigns.”

“Ohioans have a clear choice this November between Sherrod Brown, who has worked with both parties to protect clean water and to build a renewable energy economy, and lobbyist Jim Renacci who doesn’t care about our communities,” said Pete Maysmith, LCV Victory Fund Senior Vice President for Campaigns.“Renacci would be one of the most anti-environmental members of the U.S. Senate – he’s simply too extreme for Ohio.”

Jim Renacci was just endorsed by one of the most anti-environment politicians in history

If you’re a pro-environment voter in Ohio, this year’s U.S. Senate race is one you have to pay attention to. Senator Sherrod Brown, who has a near-perfect lifetime League of Conservation Voters score, is running against Congressman Jim Renacci, who has a terrible record on clean energy, protecting Lake Erie, and public land protection.