COLUMBUS – From healthier air to job creation, some experts from Ohio spoke with legislators in Washington last week about why the Clean Power Plan is good for the Buckeye State.
The group represented the public health, science, labor, business and environmental sectors, and included Mark Shanahan, principal at New Morning Energy, who served as former Gov. Ted Strickland’s energy adviser. Shanahan says while producing electricity is critical to the economy, he maintains reliance on fossil fuels is leaving a legacy of environmental ruin.
“Ohio is one of the largest electricity users in the country and we get a vast majority of it coming from coal,” he points out. “There are other ways we can do it that are much cleaner, that generate jobs and do not do the environmental damage that fossil fuels do.”
The group met with U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio and other leaders as congressional hearings on the rule began. The Clean Power Plan calls for Ohio to reduce carbon emissions 28 percent by 2030. The EPA recently finalized the plan and it will be published soon.
Ohio is among more than a dozen states fighting back against the Clean Power Plan, with some utilities arguing the rules are too strict. Claire Boettler, president of the Ohio Public Health Association, who also was in Washington, says Ohioans need clean air to be healthy, especially the hundreds of thousands of children and adults in the state suffering from asthma.
“You know, any time we change from an older paradigm to a newer paradigm and people aren’t as aware, it’s hard,” she states. “But the health implications are huge and we really do have to act now because climate change isn’t something happening in the future. It’s here. It’s happening now.”
At a hearing Friday, the director of the Ohio EPA, Craig Butler, voiced concerns about the impact of the Clean Power Plan on the state’s manufacturing base. But Shanahan contends there’s no need to fight between a healthy economy and a healthy environment.
He says industry in Ohio has enormous potential to make the parts, components and technology needed to generate clean power.
“And that certainly can range from all kinds of solar arrays to wind turbines, and it’s important that we capture these jobs rather than letting them go to other states,” he says. “That way we get both clean air and good jobs.”