Carbon Standards Could Re-Reverse Ohio Energy Policy

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A bill that puts the state’s renewable energy standards on hold for two years is headed to Ohio governor John Kasich’s desk. That comes just as the federal government has proposed new limits on emissions from power plants.

The goal of both policies – the state and federal ones – is to make people less dependent on power that comes from burning coal – to try to slow down global climate change.

Now it could turn into a kind of energy policy ping-pong: Ohio has had a law in place to increase renewable sources like solar and wind, and to reduce overall energy use.

Supporters have said it saves money and creates green jobs. Some industry groups pushed to pass new state legislation that pauses that plan for two years.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s proposal could end up requiring pretty much the same thing: reduced energy use and a shift to renewables.

"There’s going to be a lot of job growth, and a lot of people are going to be healthier and happier as a result of these regulations when they are fully implemented," said Brennan Howell, who's with the Ohio Environmental Council.

If the EPA rules go through, each state would have to submit a plan that cuts carbon pollution through 2030. Coal producers are rallying against the proposal already.

"The EPA’s policies have resulted in the elimination of low-cost and reliable sources of electricity, bottom line," said Christian Palich, who's with the Ohio Coal Association.

Ohio is one of the biggest electricity producers in the country. Right now less than 2 percent of the power produced in Ohio comes from renewable sources, and almost 70 percent comes from coal.