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Ohio Gov. John Kasich just saved his state’s clean energy standards

He vetoed a bill that would have made them voluntary.

john kasich sentences (Ty Wright/Getty Images)

Ohio Gov. John Kasich, a Republican, just vetoed a bill, passed by the Ohio legislature earlier this month, that would have made the state’s renewable energy portfolio (RPS) standards voluntary for two years. This means the standards will now go back into effect in January, after a two-year suspension that began in 2014.

The bill was driven by legislators involved in the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a conservative group that has been waging (mostly unsuccessful) war on state energy standards across the country. ALEC’s champion in the legislature, Cincinnati Republican Rep. Bill Seitz, originally put forward a bill that would have scrapped the renewable energy requirements altogether, but it went nowhere, so Republicans in the legislature softened it.

As the bill was debated, Kasich indicated that he wanted the standards to be reinstated and threatened to veto any bill that scrapped them. The legislature’s bid to make the standards voluntary rather than suspending them was an attempt to finesse Kasich’s opposition, but in the end it proved fruitless.

In a statement, Kasich said the bill “amounts to self-inflicted damage to both our state’s near- and long-term economic competitiveness.”

Now the standards, which require Ohio utilities to get 12.5 percent of their energy from renewable energy by 2025, will be effective again as of January.

For more background on the history of the Ohio bill, see this post.

[UPDATE: Oh lord, I just saw the reaction from Seitz and it is ... quite something. I’m recording it here for posterity. From the Cleveland Plain Dealer:

Reaction from Sen. William Seitz, a Cincinnati Republican and the driving force behind legislative efforts since 2013 to modify or altogether scrap the state's energy and efficiency mandates was quick and somewhat bitter.

"It is apparent that Gov. Kasich cares more about appeasing his coastal elite friends in the renewable energy business than he does about the millions of Ohioans who decisively rejected this ideology when they voted for President-elect Trump," he wrote in an email immediately after the release of the veto.

While praising Trump and his "amazing cabinet of free market capitalists," Seitz vowed to make another effort in the coming year to get rid of the standards.

"We will do our part by launching a full scale effort next session to totally repeal these [former Gov. Ted] Strickland-era mandates, With veto-proof majorities next session, we are optimistic of success.

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