Scientists Urge Ohio Senators to Continue Clean Energy Standards

Controversial Heartland Institute Invited to Share Fringe View

Published Mar 19, 2013

COLUMBUS, OHIO (March 19, 2013) – Experts at the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) are urging Ohio state senators to remember the many benefits of the state’s clean energy standards, warning that reliance on biased information from outside groups aimed at ending the standards could harm their state in the long run.

Members of the Ohio Senate’s Public Utilities Committee will hear from a panel of speakers today about the state’s clean energy standards. As the senators consider the future of these standards, UCS experts remind the legislators that the state’s clean energy standards are driving job creation and investment, reducing air pollutant emissions and setting a foundation for Ohio’s transition to cheaper, cleaner, and more stable energy sources.

“Ohio’s clean energy policies are boosting the state’s economy,” said Steve Frenkel, director of the Union of Concerned Scientists’ Midwest office. “Investing in renewable energy and energy saving-technologies has brought business to hundreds of companies across the state that employ tens of thousands of Ohioans while cutting dangerous air pollution and carbon emissions that drive climate change.”

According to Ohio Public Utilities Commission documents, more than 1,000 renewable energy projects have been built so far to meet Ohio’s renewable energy standard. This represents hundreds of millions of dollars invested in Ohio communities. Wind and solar companies alone comprise more than 300 businesses that employ almost 8,000 people, according to industry reporting. At the same time, utilities’ energy efficiency programs have generated almost $1 billion in net savings for Ohio ratepayers – almost three dollars in savings for every dollar invested.

“These projects create real, well-paying jobs that contribute to the economic growth of communities across the state,” said Frenkel. “Together, Ohio’s clean energy standards are doing what they were intended to do – spur investment, create jobs and begin transitioning Ohio to a cleaner energy future.”

Despite the hard data showing that clean energy standards are successful in Ohio and other states, the Heartland Institute, a group that denies the existence of climate change and has publicly listed the repeal of clean energy standards as its top priority in 2013, will testify at today’s hearing.

Last year, Heartland launched a roundly criticized billboard campaign comparing people who accept the broad scientific consensus of climate change science to notorious criminals, including the Unabomber and Charles Manson. A number of prominent Heartland members and corporate donors split from the group in response to the scandal.

“While today’s panel includes several participants with valid perspectives to share, it is a shame that an organization like the Heartland Institute is one of the voices at the table,” said Frenkel. “If the intent of these hearings is to have a serious and honest discussion about Ohio’s energy future including a group like Heartland, whose analysis has been widely discredited as biased and inaccurate, is hardly the way to start.”

Committee Chair Sen. Bill Seitz (R) invited Heartland to testify at Tuesday’s hearing – the second in a series of hearings to review Ohio’s renewable energy and energy efficiency standards. Based on information gathered during the hearings, Sen. Seitz plans to introduce legislation to amend or repeal these standards later in the legislative session.

“I’m hopeful that Senator Seitz and his colleagues will recognize fact from fiction and rely on credible evidence before taking any action to rescind or amend clean energy policies that are helping Ohio stay competitive and saving Ohioans money,” said Frenkel. “Based on their track record, I would warn against relying on any information offered by the Heartland Institute in this discussion.”