Click here to submit public comments to Ohio EPA by November 19.
1.) Insist algae toxin standards be created for Ohio drinking water supplies
2.) Request mandatory testing to occur at community water systems
In June 2014, Governor Kasich signed into law a bill that guts Ohio’s clean energy and efficiency standards. Passing this new law was not enough for Ohio’s utilities, though.
Now, Ohio’s largest electric utilities, AEP, Duke, and FirstEnergy are seeking to keep a number of Ohio’s oldest and dirtiest power plants open for years to come.
And they want you and me to pay for it.
As the fourth largest contributor of greenhouse gases in the U.S., Ohio is one of the largest energy users in the country. Clean, homegrown technologies, such as energy efficiency and renewable energy, can transform Ohio’s economic and energy future. For every dollar invested in energy efficiency, at least three dollars are saved on energy costs, while also creating Ohio jobs in manufacturing, construction, research, and design. Ohio’s universities, utilities, training centers, and businesses are also helping propel the state forward through investments in wind, solar, and other renewable technologies.
Check out our resources page to get more information on what you can do to help!
by Ohio Chapter Executive Committee member Jack Turner
On Tuesday, May 19, Democratic Voices and ProgressOhio staged a kayak and canoe rally outside Ohio Junior Senator Rob Portman’s Terrace Park estate. The rally was dubbe the “American Armada.” Democratic Voices and Progress Ohio were joined by activists from other statewide organizations including the Ohio Sierra Club. Participants traveled from every corner of the state to insist the Senator oppose the Trans Pacific Partnership.
The Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a trade deal being negotiated between Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States, and Vietnam. The deal is being pushed by the Obama Administration and Congressional Republicans. Although the negotiations are secret, between what can be gleaned from similar recent treaties as well as portions of the treaty leaked by Wikileaks, shows that the TPP would have disastrous environmental impacts.:
The TPP would Increase Fracking in the U.S.: The Department of Energy must determine that exporting natural gas is in the public interest before gas exports can proceed. But, this requirement is waived for nations with which the United States has a so called “Free Trade Agreement” (FTA) that includes “national treatment for trade in gas.” The TPP could establish such an agreement between the United States and 11 other member countries. Japan in particular is eager to buy gas drilled in North America’s shale beds.
Allow Corporations to Sue Member Countries in Secret Tribunals for Protecting the Environment: The treaty would establish what are known as Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) tribunals. In these tribunals, companies can sue countries and receive compensation for “expected future profits.” Corporations can claim they have lost future profits because of the environmental, labor, or consumer protection laws of signatories. If an ISDS tribunal decides that a member-nation’s laws or policies interfere with the corporation’s profits, the tribunal can award compensation to the corporation at taxpayer expense. This means a country that tried to pass regulations to protect clean water and air, ensure public health, regulate or ban the of exploiting dirty fossil fuels, or tried to protect the environment, public health, or workers rights in that went above lowest common denominator among member-nations would be opening itself up to being sued.
Although Portman has failed to oppose the bad deal outright, to his credit he has co-authored an amendment against currency manipulation. The amendment, if passed, could frustrate the would be trade pact.
Protesters display a banner on the Little Miami River within view from the Senator’s back yard.
Activists traveled down the Little Miami River past Portman’s in state residence, holding up signs and banners as they passed the property. Besides the banners and signs denouncing the TPP for the harm it would do to the environment and American labor, the boats were decorated with American and Ohio flags. Someone who saw the saw the flotilla before the unfurling of the banners could have been forgiven for assuming they were seeing an early Memorial Day celebration.
The senator was not home to see the event, since congress in in session, but and Democratic Voices produced a press release about the rally and both shared the news t on social media. Participants (including this one) tweeted the news from the water.
Democratic Voices Executive Director Alex Kass described the demonstration and what demonstrations like this one mean for American Politics in an email:
We’re here, protesting on the Little Miami River, to show Ohio’s junior senator that he will be held accountable for the decisions he makes while serving us in office. We’re moving farther and farther into a time when the average American voter can feasibly attain a higher degree of everyday political involvement than she or he has ever been able to command in the past. Social media is the critical vehicle of non-election cycle connection between people and the political process, and through it, we as citizens must demand accountability, transparency and foresight from our elected officials. That’s what our objection to fast-tracking this trade deal is all about.
It’s no wonder to anyone why the orchestrators of a massive trade agreement like the TPP or NAFTA would be pushing for fast-track. A simple up or down vote and no amendment process is the perfect recipe for a bunch of Big Money-funded legislators to be able to vote in a way that pleases their corporate donors, while maintaining enough non-involvement in the particulars to claim no wrongdoing when their constituents later ask them to answer for the consequences.
Opponents of Ohio utilities’ sweeping requests for coal and nuclear plant bailouts speak out against rate increases outside of Public Utilities Commission of Ohio in Columbus.
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Residents across the state bused into Columbus this morning for a spirited citizens hearing outside the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) as the highly criticized AEP and FirstEnergy coal bailout cases are set for a decision in the coming months. The rally took place against a backdrop of bold new ads that have blanketed downtown kiosks in waves for nearly a year, with the latest round featuring crayoned drawings from Ohio schoolchildren opposing the bailouts. The pending cases seek to raise customers’ bills to pay for Ohio utilities’ old, polluting and increasingly uneconomic coal and nuclear plants — what has prompted high-profile public hearings across the state where FirstEnergy’s plan was pummeled, with the PUCO denying a similar bailout case by Duke Energy, as well as a previous filing by AEP. Read More
February 25th, 2015
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 25, 2015
Sierra Club Responds to PUCO Vote on Bailout for AEP’s Coal Plants
PUCO shuts down AEP’s request to increase customers’ bills to pay for aging coal plants
COLUMBUS, Ohio – Today, the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) stood up for Ohio electric customers by denying a bailout request by American Electric Power (AEP), the Columbus-based utility that was seeking to pass increasing coal plant electricity costs to customers’ bills. The measure would have guaranteed AEP a revenue stream for its aging coal plants for decades, forcing other electricity generators to compete in an unfair market that benefits AEP and makes customers’ electric bills higher than they should be.
AEP’s coal plant bailout is among a series of other high-profile cases, including Akron-based FirstEnergy’s bailout request, pending at the PUCO that have drawn extreme criticism from residential and business electricity consumers alike. In October, a group of 12 Ohio businesses, including Lowe’s Home Improvement, Staples Inc., and Macy’s Inc., sent a letter urging the PUCO to reject the bailouts proposal. The businesses cited a new poll by Public Policy Partners showing a strong percentage of Ohio electricity customers favor clean, renewable energy sources to power the state — and do not support paying more to keep aging coal plants in operation.
More recently, Dynegy (NYSE:DYN), a electric generation company that is in the process of finalizing a multi-billion dollar expansion into Ohio, has “vehemently” disagreed with and opposed AEP’s bailout request.
Meanwhile, public hearings in FirstEnergy’s similar bailout case occurred in mid-January in Cleveland, Akron and Toledo drawing hundreds of opponents and hours of testimony with the Cleveland Plain Dealer reporting FirstEnergy’s request was “pummeled” by the public.
In response to the PUCO bailout decision, Daniel Sawmiller of the Sierra Club Beyond Coal Campaign, released this statement:
“We disagree with the PUCO that these bailouts are a legal proposal in accordance with Ohio law. The PUCO was right however to not allow AEP to prop up its outdated coal plants by forcing those costs on to electricity customers at this time, protecting customers from the substantial costs of these harmful bailout requests. These aging coal plants are not competitive with today’s market prices for electricity and this corporate bailout, if ultimately allowed, would hurt Ohio’s working families.
“While today’s Order is generally positive, the Sierra Club will not waiver in its opposition to these bailouts. With more bailout cases still pending, like for FirstEnergy’s expensive and dirty Sammis coal plant, we encourage the PUCO to continue to scrutinize the utilities’ sweeping requests to increase customers’ bills and eliminate customer choices.”
To learn more about the “No Coal Bailouts” campaign, visit sc.org/nobailouts.
February 5th, 2015
We hope you were able to join the 150 Sierra Club members who gathered for our annual Chapter Retreat at Mohican State Park. As one of the largest and most influential environmental organizations in the state, we celebrated our victories, renewed our spirits, and made our plans for the year ahead. Check out the Retreat Presentations and take the survey!!!
December 23rd, 2014
We are surrounded by signs that Ohio is paying the cost of a changing climate from increased pests (like ticks and mosquitos) and reduced songbird populations, to flooding farm fields and sewer overflows that spur toxic algae in our waterways. Read More