The Oberlin Review
<< Front page News May 4, 2007

Ohio Lags Behind in Renewable Energy Efforts

According to the Union of Concerned Scientists report issued last week, Ohio is getting left behind as states race to adopt environmentally-friendly policies.

In the past several years, 21 states and Washington, D.C. have adopted renewable energy portfolio standards, in which the state commits to obtaining a percentage of their power through renewable sources. Ohio is not among these states.

“Renewable standards are one of the biggest steps we can take to cut global warming pollution in the next ten years,” said Alison Cassady, research director for the United States Public Interest Research Group report, in an interview with The Christian Science Monitor. 

According to the UCS report, these states are on track to create 46,000 megawatts of renewable power by 2020. This would eliminate 108 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions each year. So far, renewable-energy portfolio standards have helped states cut about 20 million tons of carbon dioxide. Annually, the United States produces six billion tons of carbon dioxide emissions.

Ohio is not included in the group of 21 progressive states that have implemented renewable standards, however, partially because Ohio has been historically dependent on coal for energy.

Nevertheless, John Petersen, chair of the environmental studies department, is optimistic about the future of renewable energy in Ohio.

“If we are going to adopt standards, this is certainly the political environment for accomplishing this,” Petersen said. “Both Strickland and Brown certainly talk the talk on the importance of transforming Ohio to a more environmentally sustainable economy.”

Oberlin is currently ahead of the curve in Ohio, as the College receives a significant portion of its energy from renewable sources.

“In total we are purchasing between 50 and 60 percent of the electricity we consume from green sources&hellip;But it would be far easier to push further and harder if we were provided with economic incentives to do so,” Petersen said.

“You have a situation in which both college and townspeople would really like to do the right thing on the environment, but feel severely constrained by the economic side,” he said. “If Ohio provided incentives, I think we would see rapid movement.”

Assistant Coordinator of the Office of Environmental Sustainability Meredith Dowling also stressed the importance of such actions. “Adopting renewable energy portfolio standards is an important step to take in expanding the U.S. market for alternative energy.”

“I would very much like to see Ohio adopt these standards, Dowling  continued. “Initiatives like this will be important in determining our nation’s ability to address our future energy needs.”

In any case, Ohio may not have the chance to take voluntary action if bills currently being considered are passed. One such bill would require 20 percent of U.S. energy to come from renewable energy sources by 2020. According to UCS, this bill would prevent around 434 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions from entering the atmosphere.


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