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Dec 01, 2014

Columbus to spend up to $1 million to treat water if algae blooms cause stink again this winter
 

Algae blooms have caused Columbus’s city water supply to smell bad the past two years around this time, but The Columbus Dispatch reports that the city is prepared in case it happens again this year. The city “has a contingency contract to spend $970,000 to buy powder-activated carbon,” which is “supposed to be more effective than the carbon the city purchased last year for about $600,000,” according to the article. The powdered carbon acts more quickly and “is supposed to better soak up materials that cause water to taste and smell bad.” Last year’s smell was caused by Anabaena algae’s “explosive growth in Hoover Reservoir.” Manure and fertilizer run-off into streams feed the algae blooms, while wind and temperature swings can “churn up the algae, making them difficult to remove.”  Laura Young Mohr, spokesperson for the city’s utility department, said temperature swings become a concern when higher temperatures “last for days or weeks,” but “the hope is that by late November, the likelihood of a bloom will have passed.” Columbus will also spend between $2 million and $3 million for repairs and upgrades to the Hap Cremean Water Plant “to eliminate odor and flavor problems,” but those upgrades are “about a year away.” For more, read the full article.


 
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Nov 25, 2014

More regulations to prevent toxic algae should be priority, experts tell House panel
 

It’s critical to prevent toxic algae in the drinking water supply instead of focusing on cleaning it up once it happens, experts reported to a House panel, according to The Columbus Dispatch. Rep. Bob Latta (R-Bowling Green), whose district includes much of the Toledo area affected by last summer’s algae-bloom pollution, was part of the panel that met to investigate what caused that contamination “that left roughly half a million people without access to safe drinking water for two days” in August 2014. That situation “caused many to question the testing protocol, treatment process and response to such emergencies.” Scientists and environmental experts say there are factors that can be addressed, such as farm waste runoff, and that prevention is easier than cleaning polluted water. Craig Butler, the director of the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, said the agricultural community has been cooperative and supportive of efforts to reduce fertilizer pollution. The president of the American Water Works Association, John J. Donahue, agreed, saying it would be unfair “to force public water utilities to clean up the water without trying to prevent the pollution.” For more, read the full article
 
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Nov 24, 2014

Senator says Ohio should consider holding off on EPA carbon emissions proposal
 

Senate Public Utilities Chairman Sen. Bill Seitz (R-Cincinnati) has suggested that Ohio may want to “consider disregarding the Obama administration’s pending rules on greenhouse gas emissions,” according to a recent Gongwer report, but not everyone agrees with that idea. Seitz is referring to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s Clean Power Plan, released this past June (for more on this, see our June 5, 2014 blog post). Seitz, who “led the charge to roll back” Ohio’s energy efficiency and renewable energy standards, said that roll back “might be the best way to take advantage of flexibility allowed in the U.S. EPA’s draft rule,” which gives states options in how they meet the proposed benchmarks. Seitz also questions whether the EPA has authority to impose the plan on the states, quoting former U.S. EPA general counsel Roger Martella, who said, “[t]here’s a very significant question about how EPA can force states to switch from coal to natural gas and to rely increasingly on renewables when there’s no authority for EPA to do that themselves.” Brennan Howell of the Ohio Environmental Council, however, said the Supreme Court is likely to affirm the EPA’s authority to enforce the Clean Power Plan, saying the Court “has ruled in the past several times that the U.S. EPA has the obligation and right to regulate carbon dioxide emissions from power plants.” 
 
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Nov 21, 2014

National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners holds 126th Annual Meeting
 

Bricker & Eckler attorneys and members of the firm’s Regulated Industries group, J. Thomas Siwo and Dylan Borchers, recently attended the 126th Annual Meeting of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) in San Francisco, California. NARUC was founded in 1889 and is a nonprofit organization that represents state public service commissions, which regulate utilities such as energy, telecommunications, water and transportation.

This year’s theme was “Equipped to Lead: 125 Years of Effective Regulation.” The program included multiple sessions and committee meetings centered on the topics of water, electricity, gas, telecommunications and consumer affairs, among others. At the conference, Siwo and Borchers attended sessions on a variety of timely subjects, including EPA 111(d) regional coordination, energy storage technologies, the pricing of state renewable energy, energy efficiency standards, electric and natural gas coordination, and water and wastewater utility challenges. Additionally, the conference enabled Siwo and Borchers to interact with the country's leading regulators and industry leaders.

A copy of NARUC’s 126th Annual Meeting program can be accessed here. If you have questions regarding the subject matter presented at the meeting and potential implications for Ohio, contact J. Thomas Siwo at 614.227.2389 or tsiwo@bricker.com or Dylan Borchers at 614.227.4914 or dborchers@bricker.com.


 
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Oct 13, 2014

Several bills seek to address clean water standards in Ohio
 

Drinking water quality is the focus of three bills in Ohio following this past summer’s toxin-contaminated water supply in Toledo caused by algal blooms on Lake Erie, Gongwer reports. Rep. Michael Sheehy (D-Toledo) and Rep. John Patterson (D-Jefferson) sponsored HB 625, a measure that would “create requirements and procedures for monitoring microcystin in public water systems,” according to the article. Rep. Sheehy also sponsored HB 611, which would prohibit the application of manure to land under certain weather or soil conditions. Sen. Edna Brown introduced a new bill, SB 356, to amend SB 150, a bill enacted earlier this year that requires anyone “who applies fertilizer for the purposes of agricultural production” to obtain state certification by September 30, 2017. SB 356 would move that required date up to December 31, 2014.
 
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Sep 18, 2014

Study shows wind farms not significant threat to birds
 

A study by West Inc. and two scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey and Federal Communications Commission, sponsored by the nonprofit American Wind Wildlife Institute, measured the impact of North American wind farms on small passerines, including songbirds. The study found that “all bird fatalities from North American wind turbines range from 214,00 to 368,000 annually,” reports nawindpower.com. By comparison, cell and radio towers cause 6.8 million bird fatalities, and cats cause 1.4 billion to 3.7 billion fatalities. West Inc.’s Wallace Erickson, lead author of the report, said, “…one of the most important scientific contributions from this research is our new understanding of the level of impact on individual songbird and other small passerine species.” Terry Root, senior fellow at the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment, commented on the study, “With comprehensive measures to further minimize impacts on birds, wind power is a growing solution to some of the more serious threats that birds face, since wind energy emits no greenhouse gases that accelerate climate change.” For more, read the full article.
 
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Sep 12, 2014

Bill to scale back Clean Water Act passes U.S. House vote
 

On September 9, 2014, the U.S. House of Representatives voted 262–152 to pass a bill backed by Rep. Bob Gibbs of Ohio “that aims to dial back a proposed federal regulation expanding the scope of the federal Clean Water Act,” reports The Columbus Dispatch. At issue is a rule that expands the jurisdiction of the EPA’s Clean Water Act into state and local waters; the bill would prevent the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers from enforcing that rule. In the article, Gibbs said of the bill, “[t]he agencies’ attempt to expand their jurisdiction…will have serious consequences for the nation’s economy, threaten jobs and restrict landowners to make decisions about their property.” Whit Fosburgh, president and CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, disagreed. He said the expanded jurisdiction is “a perfectly reasonable way to protect waters as well as the tourism, hunting and fishing industries that rely on those waters.” President Barack Obama has said he will veto the bill if it comes to his desk. For more, read the full article.
 
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Aug 25, 2014

Diesel fuel spilled into Ohio River but drinking water is safe, officials say
 

Between 5,000 and 8,000 gallons of diesel fuel spilled into the Ohio River from Duke Energy’s W.C. Beckjord Station in New Richmond on August 18, 2014, Cincinnati.com reports. The spill happened during a routine transfer, and “likely resulted from human error,” said Duke spokesperson Sally Thelen, but she noted the company is still investigating the cause. The Coast Guard “briefly closed a 15-mile stretch” beginning at the site of the spill, while “Greater Cincinnati Waterworks and the Northern Kentucky Water District shut down intake valves” shortly after the spill was discovered, according to the article. Cincinnati waterworks Director Tony Parrott said the agency will use its near-capacity reserves to continue operating while the river intakes are closed. The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is helping with the cleanup, along with the U.S. Coast Guard and other organizations. For more, read the full article
 
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Aug 15, 2014

Ohio will spend $150 million to address toxic algae
 

State directors from Ohio’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Agriculture and Natural Resources departments announced that “Ohio will provide more than $150 million in grants and interest-free loans to help cities fight the kinds of toxic algae that shut down Toledo’s drinking water” recently, The Columbus Dispatch reports. While most of the $150 million will be used for interest-free loans to upgrade public water and sewage-treatment facilities, $1.25 million will be directed to helping farmers “plant cover crops and improve drainage systems” to reduce fertilizer runoff into nearby water sources, according to the article. Agricultural runoff is the main source of phosphorus in the Maumee watershed; algae blooms feed on phosphorus. Another $2 million will help universities research algae blooms. For more, read the full article.
 
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May 21, 2014

Clean-energy initiative didn’t meet signature requirements, rejected by Attorney General DeWine
 

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine rejected a revised petition (read about the previous petition in our November 2013 blog post) asking the state to invest $1.3 billion in clean-energy projects because “petitioners did not collect enough valid signatures,” according to Cleveland.com. The proposal called for the $1.3 billion to be spent on geothermal, wind, and solar energy research, development, and infrastructure over a 10-year period. The Columbus Dispatch reports that under the proposed initiative, “Ohio would be severely limited in how much it could control or influence the selection of projects and investments.” For more, read the full Dispatch and Cleveland.com stories, as well as the full text of the proposed amendment.

 
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May 07, 2014

Kroger Co. announces its 500th store to earn the federal ENERGY STAR designation
 

The Cincinnati-based Kroger Co. grocery chain recently announced that one of its stores in Phoenix, Arizona, has become its 500th location to earn the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's and the U.S. Department of Energy's ENERGY STAR designation, meaning it ranked in the top 25 percent of facilities in the nation for energy efficiency and performance, WCPO reports. The company said that since 2000, it has reduced its average grocery store electricity usage by over 34.3 percent by utilizing several practices, including employing technology such as LED lights, skylights and control systems – as well as "engaging store associates in energy savings initiatives." For more, read the full story and news release.

 
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May 02, 2014

Marietta College plans to install 116 more solar panels by early summer
 

By early summer, Marietta College officials plan to have two additional solar installation projects completed, The Marietta Times reports. One hundred solar panels will be installed on the McCoy Athletic Facility and 16 are planned for Pioneer House, which is also known as the Sustainable Lifestyle House. It is estimated that the McCoy installation will generate 36.5 megawatt-hours per year and that the Pioneer House will generate about 9.0 megawatt-hours per year. This follows the school's initial panel installation project, which took place at the end of the 2012-2013 academic year and involved the installation of both photovoltaic solar panels and a solar hot water system in the Pioneer House, the article said. For more, read the full story.

 
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May 02, 2014

U.S. Supreme Court upholds EPA rule limiting power plant emissions
 

On Tuesday, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a 2011 regulation by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that requires 27 states, including Ohio, to "limit the emissions from coal-fired power plants," The Columbus Dispatch reports. Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine and "officials in states in the Midwest and South producing large amounts of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide" originally challenged the rule, which was created out of Clean Air Act amendments that President George H.W. Bush signed into law in 1990. The rule aims to address the fact that the power plant pollutants generated in these states "scatter across the Eastern states, making it difficult for areas without many coal-fired plants to achieve clean air standards required by the nation's clean air laws," the article said. For more, read the full story and slip opinion.

 
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Apr 30, 2014

55th German Village Haus und Garten Tour committee partners with the Ohio EPA to develop a model-setting waste-reduction checklist for event planning
 

Officials with the 55th German Village Haus und Garten Tour are partnering with the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to implement a waste-reduction checklist that they hope will "become a prototype at all public events," ThisWeek Community News reports. The event's Go Green Committee is expanding its green efforts from last year, which featured clearly marked recycling containers, to including wristbands, plates and flatware made from compostable materials. In addition, the group is making menus and RSVP cards available online and over the phone, and is significantly shrinking the size of its printed programs, the article said. For more, read the full story.

 
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Apr 23, 2014

Princeton Review rates 14 Ohio schools as environmentally responsible "green colleges"
 

A new guidebook from the Princeton Review rates 14 Ohio universities as environmentally responsible "green colleges," The Plain Dealer reports. In collaboration with the Center for Green Schools at the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), the test preparation and college admission services company profiled "330 U.S. schools and two in Canada that are committed to sustainability in their academics, campus infrastructure, activities and career preparation." The Ohio universities are Bowling Green State University, Case Western Reserve University, The College of Wooster, Denison University, Kenyon College, Miami University, Oberlin College, Ohio State University, Ohio University, Ohio Wesleyan University, University of Cincinnati, University of Dayton, University of Mount Union and Xavier University, the article said. For more, read the full story and access the free guidebook.

 
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Apr 22, 2014

Webinar taking place today will discuss bond financing for clean energy projects
 

The Washington, D.C.-based Brooking Institution's Metropolitan Policy Program is hosting a webinar on Tuesday to discuss the findings of its newly released paper on using the bond market to finance clean energy markets. On Tuesday, April 22, from 1-2:30 p.m. EDT, Mark Muro, a senior fellow at Brookings, will host the webinar – "Clean Energy Finance Through the Bond Market: A New Option for Progress" – with special guests Toby Rittner from the Council of Development Finance Agencies, Lewis Milford from the Clean Energy Group, Jeff Pitkin from the the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, and Paul Toth from the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority. The webinar is free and open to the public. For registration information, click here.

 
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Apr 14, 2014

Ohio University to host a free webinar on how global climate research impacts Ohio
 

The Consortium for Energy, Economics & the Environment (CE3) at Ohio University's Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs recently announced that it will be hosting its next energy webinar, titled "The Bigger Picture: How Global Climate Research Impacts Ohio," on Wednesday, April 16th. A panel of experts will discuss a report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which is the United Nations' leading informational body for the assessment of climate change. The panel will discuss the international and regional relevance of the report and how this body of work could impact the future of Ohio's communities and businesses. The webinar is free and open to the public. For more, including registration information, view the event flyer.

 
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Apr 08, 2014

U.S. EPA unveils new tool to quantify the emissions impacts of renewable energy and energy efficiency programs
 

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently released a new tool through its State and Local Climate and Energy Program that estimates the emissions benefits of energy efficiency and renewable energy (EE/RE) policies and programs. The number of states with such policies continues to grow, but "quantifying the emissions impacts of these policies and programs can be challenging." The free AVoided Emissions and GeneRation Tool (AVERT) enables non-expert users to utilize publicly available information to easily "evaluate county-level emissions displaced at electric plants by EE/RE policies and programs." Such a tool could be useful for Ohio, where the fate and value of the state's renewable energy and energy efficiency programs is currently the topic of heated debate (See our March 28, 2014, blog post for more information). For more, access AVERT.

 
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Apr 02, 2014

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence pushes for a new energy efficiency program to replace the one he just let get repealed
 

Last Thursday, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence allowed legislation to become law that eliminates the state's energy efficiency program – Energizing Indiana, Indiana Public Media reports. The bill started as a simple industrial opt-out provision but rapidly morphed into a complete repeal of the program (See our March 13, 2014, blog post – "Bill to repeal Indiana's energy efficiency resource standard reaches the governor's desk"). The governor said that he is devoted to energy efficiency, but had concerns about "rising energy costs for businesses and the impact on job creation." Since the legislation "bars the Pence administration from creating a replacement" program on its own, the governor has "directed the Utility Regulatory Commission to begin crafting a proposal for a new program he can take to the legislature next year," the article said. For more, read the full story.


 
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Mar 31, 2014

Ohio Sen. Joe Uecker asks the House to delay anti-LEED hearings until the fall
 

Ohio Sen. Joe Uecker (R-Loveland), who introduced Senate Concurrent Resolution 25 in November to urge "state agencies to follow efficient building standards set by the American National Standards Institute [ANSI] instead of those from the U.S. Green Building Council [USGBC]," has asked the chairman of the House Manufacturing and Workforce Development Committee to "delay consideration of the bill until the fall," according to the Gongwer Ohio Report. SCR 25 aims to replace USGBC's Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) v4 standards in favor of ANSI because v4 "discourages use of safe building materials, such as certain paints and vinyls" (See our Feb 27, 2014, blog post for more information). The resolution passed the Senate 22-10, but now Sen. Uecker says he wants the House to wait until after summer break so that the industry witnesses and proponents of the bill are "able to testify in a jointed as opposed to a disjointed manner," the article said.


 
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Mar 24, 2014

Four Ohio cities receive $1.4 million from the U.S. EPA to improve Lake Erie's water quality
 

Officials from Cleveland, Lakewood, Lorain and Toledo recently announced that the cities are receiving more than $1.3 million total from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for "green infrastructure projects to improve Lake Erie water quality," The Plain Dealer reports. The EPA funding is being divided up as follows:

  • Lakewood is receiving $107,500 to install bioretention planters in Madison Park that will "absorb and hold rainwater, reducing the amount of water flowing into the city's sewer system."
  • Cleveland is receiving $500,000 to reconstruct the parking lot behind West Side Market "with permeable pavers that allow rainwater to seep into the ground instead of flowing into sewers."
  • Lorain is receiving $250,000 to improve storm-water management at Lakeview Park so as to "reduce the amount of bacteria in storm water being discharged to Lake Erie."
  • Toledo is receiving $500,000 to install bioswales, which "use vegetation to filter storm water, rain gardens, sand filters and vernal ponds to improve water quality at Cullen Park and along the Silver Creek watershed."
For more, read the full story.


 
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Mar 21, 2014

Two plastic-to-energy startups are commercializing their processes in Akron
 

A startup called Vadxx Energy is spending more than $20 million to set up a plant in Akron that will use a pioneering method to turn waste plastic into fuel, The Akron Beacon Journal reports. Nurtured in the Akron Global Business Accelerator, the facility will be capable of processing 60 tons of plastic a day, which will "create 300 barrels of petrochemical products used to make diesel fuel and lubricants." Another plastic-to-energy startup, RES Polyflow, is also aiming to begin commercialization in Akron. For more, read the full story.


 
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Mar 18, 2014

Third Sun Solar installs a 9 kW system on an Athens County farm
 

Ohio University newspaper The Post recently profiled an Athens County farmer who had solar panels installed on his family's nearly century-old farm. Third Sun Solar of Athens installed the 9 kW system, which is "designed to produce more power in the summer" but will be able to produce enough power in all conditions – "even if covered by multiple inches of snow." This story represents an ongoing trend among farmers turning to renewable energy, particularly solar (See our Dec 9, 2013, blog post – "Solar is proving itself to be an inexpensive and unintrusive energy choice for Ohio farmers"). For more, read the full story.


 
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Feb 05, 2014

Senate hearing addresses resolution to forbid LEED v4 standards in favor of ANSI
 

On Tuesday, the Ohio Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee heard witnesses oppose Senate Concurrent Resolution 25, which Sens. Joe Uecker (R-Loveland) and Tim Schaffer (R-Lancaster) introduced in November to stop Ohio's state agencies and government entities from using the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (USGBC LEED) v4 green building system. Supporters of the resolution argue that the USGBC has strayed from its original focus on energy efficiency to outright banning certain products due to unfounded toxicity claims (See our Dec 13, 2013, blog post – "U.S. chemical companies push for anti-LEED legislation at the state and federal level"). Opponents "vehemently denied the existence of a 'blacklist' of building materials," claiming that "thousands of member organizations ultimately voted on the final version" following "extensive public input on the drafts." S.C.R. 25 would instead "urge state agencies to follow efficient building standards" set by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).


 
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Feb 03, 2014

Commercial-scale wind turbine planned for Ottawa County canceled due to concerns it would harm migratory birds
 

Responding to objections raised by advocacy groups the American Bird Conservancy and the Black Swamp Bird Observatory, the National Guard Bureau at Camp Perry in Port Clinton, Ottawa County, said yesterday that a plan to install a 198-foot, commercial-scale wind turbine has been "suspended indefinitely," The Blade reports. The advocacy groups gathered 5,000 signatures on a petition opposing the project, arguing that it "would violate the Endangered Species Act and other conservation and environmental laws" by endangering "migratory birds because of its proximity to western Lake Erie." For more, read the full story.


 
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Feb 03, 2014

Vadxx Energy will construct its first commercial-scale plastic waste to energy plant in Akron
 

Akron-based Vadxx Energy recently announced that it has secured funding from the North Carolina-based private equity firm Liberation Capital to construct "its first commercial-scale plant to turn plastic waste into energy," Crain's Cleveland Business reports. The unit will be located in Akron and will divert almost 60 tons of plastic waste from the landfill per day when it comes online in early 2015. Vadxx said that Rockwell Automation "is the procurement and construction contractor and will manufacture and commission the plant," the article said. For more, read the full story.


 
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Feb 01, 2014

Ohio Senate committee hears witnesses support the repeal of the state's renewable energy requirement
 

In the last two weeks, the Ohio Senate Public Utilities Committee has held two hearings on S.B. 34, which Sen. Kris Jordan (R-Ostrander) introduced in February 2013 to repeal the requirement that electric distribution utilities and electric services companies provide 25 percent of their retail power supplies from advanced and renewable energy resources by 2025. On Wednesday, January 22, witness testified in opposition to wind power development, according to the Gongwer Ohio Report. Residents expressed frustration over the lawsuits and "devastated social relationships" that have occurred as a result of wind power development in rural communities. Kevon Martis, director of the Interstate Informed Citizen's Coalition, said that the renewable energy requirement was established before Ohio's shale boom drove down the price of natural gas, and that combined cycle gas generators could have generated 750 megawatts using the $750 million spent on wind development in Ohio, compared to wind development's 84 megawatts.

During the bill's third hearing on Wednesday, January 29, additional witnesses testified in support of repealing the requirement, generally touting other technologies that they regard as smarter investments. Paul Morrow of the Freedom Institute of Erie County disputed evidence supporting global warming, arguing that renewable energy mandates "impede market investment in other technologies, like energy from thorium and molten salts reactors and new coal technology," the article said.

Witness who testified on Wednesday, January 22:

  • Gary Biglin, Shelby Resident
  • Terrilee Doenges, Auglaize Neighbors United
  • Julia Johnson, Urbana Resident
  • Kevon Martis, Interstate Informed Citizen's Coalition
  • Ed Rogers, Hardin County resident
  • Diana Sheperd, Harden County resident

Witness who testified on Wednesday, January 29:
  • Jon Paul Morrow, Freedom Institute of Erie County
  • William Thesling, Energy From Thorium Foundation
  • Milo Schaffner, Hoaglin Township trustee


 
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Jan 27, 2014

Battelle creates mobile biofuel refinery in an effort to solve supply chain problems
 

The Battelle Memorial Institute, a major research and development nonprofit, recently launched a pilot project at its Columbus headquarters that aims to solve supply chain problems by dispatching a mobile biofuel refinery "directly where feedstock can be obtained," Midwest Energy News reports. Using a reactor in which a "high-temperature process known as catalytic pyrolysis takes place," raw materials are converted into an oil that is easier to transport than the raw material itself, essentially taking "the production plant to the biomass field on the back of an 18-wheel tractor-trailer." The process meets the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) renewable fuel standard, "meaning refiners can use it to comply with their annual targets for advanced biofuel use." However, with significantly more oxygen than petroleum or coal, biofuel's energy content is low. Although the company could avoid the $200 million cost of building a massive production facility by deploying these smaller units, it still must determine "that [it] can get yields and process efficiency" without some economies of scale, the article said. For more, read the full story.


 
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Jan 24, 2014

FirstEnergy promises shareholders it will study carbon emission reduction
 

Caving to corporate investors who "see tremendous risk if issues of climate change are not incorporated into corporate strategy," Akron-based FirstEnergy Corp. recently agreed to "study and report on what it could do to help meet President Obama's goal of reducing carbon emissions by 80 percent by 2050," The New York Times reports. FirstEnergy, one of the largest electric companies in the country, operates in six states – Ohio, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia. Its shareholders filed a resolution during the company's annual meeting this year "as part of a larger effort with Ceres, a coalition of environmentalists and investors, to make companies more environmentally responsive." Last October, three former treasury secretaries and two billionaires started a nonpartisan effort called Risky Business to "assess the economic risks posed if climate change is left unaddressed," the article said. For more, read the full story.


 
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Jan 08, 2014

Utility commits to purchase RECs for Super Bowl XLVIII
 

The Super Bowl is going green with the announcement that Public Service Enterprise Group (PSEG) – the parent company of PSE&G, which is the utility servicing the new York-New Jersey metro region where Super Bowl XLVIII will be held – has partnered with the NFL Environmental Program to provide green power for the game, North American Windpower reports. For "every megawatt-hour of electricity used to power the event," including electricity used at Met Life Stadium, the AFC and NFC team hotels and at the public event known as Super Bowl Boulevard, PSEG "will purchase and retire one renewable energy credit (REC) on behalf of Super Bowl XLVIII." REC purchases will include New Jersey solar RECs "equal to a four-week output of PSE&G's 3 MW Kearny Solar Farm," with the rest purchased from Community Energy Inc., a certified Green-e Supplier, sourced from the Jersey-Atlantic City Wind Farm, the article said. Super Bowl Sunday will take place on February 2, 2014. For more, read the full story.


 
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Dec 27, 2013

Planned $420 million waste-to-energy project could make Central Ohio the most sustainable community in North America
 

A $420 million green energy and recycling industrial park that's planned for Franklin County could make Central Ohio "the most sustainable community in North America," Columbus Business First reports. Team Gemini LLC, a private, Florida-based development company, said construction will begin soon on the project, which is expected to create 560 full-time jobs. The long-term goal is to "divert all waste going to the Franklin County landfill." The first part of the project will be a $160 million waste-sorting facility called the Center of Resource Recovery and Recycling that, upon opening in 2015, will primarily handle cardboard and paper trash from businesses. The next phase is the $260 million Gemini Synergy Center, which will "sort and shred food and other non-recyclable waste and send it to energy plants that digest it into methane and compost or convert shredded plastic back to petroleum," the article said. For more, read the full story.


 
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Dec 26, 2013

Environment Ohio report outlines the current and potential benefits of wind energy in each state
 

A recent report from Environment Ohio projects how much each state in the country could benefit and generate from achieving its wind energy production potential. The report, "Wind Energy for a Cleaner America II: Wind Energy's Growing Benefits for Our Environment and Our Health," concluded that wind energy has "displaced about 84.7 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions in 2012." With 988,000 megawatt hours of wind energy produced in 2012, Ohio ranks 25th for wind energy production. Ohio also reduced carbon dioxide emissions that year by 597,613 metric tons – equivalent to taking 124,503 cars off the road. For more, read the full report.


 
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Dec 20, 2013

Major U.S. companies are preparing for and devising ways to profit from a price on carbon
 

Although opponents have long described efforts to reduce the effects of climate change by taxing carbon as a job killer that businesses oppose, a new report indicates that businesses "have sensed the direction of climate change policy in America and have decided to prepare to profit from it," Forbes reports. CDP (formerly known as the Carbon Disclosure Project), an "international, not-for-profit organization that provides the only global system for companies and cities to measure, disclose, manage and share vital environmental information," released a report recently that shows that many of the biggest U.S. companies, including oil giants, have "accepted a price for carbon and incorporated it into their normal business planning." Whether through a "simple tax or a market-based cap-and-trade type system," a price on carbon appears to be the most likely mechanism that regulators will use to curb greenhouse gas emissions, the article said. For more, read the full story and report.


 
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Dec 19, 2013

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown discusses a region-focused strategy for clean energy development
 

This week in Washington, D.C., U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) promoted a report that proposes "maximizing the national strength of U.S. manufacturing by employing a region-focused strategy for clean energy manufacturing," the Campaign for America's Future announced. The report indicates that Ohio has the fifth most green jobs of any state in the nation, and that the sector is growing more quickly in terms of job creation than any other sector in Ohio. The report, “The Green Industrial Revolution and the United States: In the Clean Energy Race, Is the United States a Leader or a Luddite?" was authored by Kate Gordon of the Center for American Progress, Robert Borosage of the Institute for America's Future and Derek Pugh at the Campaign for America's Future, in collaboration with the BlueGreen Alliance. Brown remarked that, "we can't replace a dependence on foreign oil for a dependence on foreign-made clean energy components," and noted the report's determination that "investing in the competitiveness of America's clean energy industry can create jobs, lower costs for consumers, and boost exports," according to the Gongwer Ohio Report. For more, read the full report and news release.


 
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Dec 18, 2013

Monroe Central High School becomes the 100th public education facility in Ohio to achieve an LEED certification
 

The Ohio School Facilities Commission recently announced that Monroe Central High School's achievement of silver LEED makes it the 100th public education facility in Ohio to achieve an LEED certification. With "more than 300 total schools either registered or certified" through the U.S. Green Building Council's (USBG) LEED rating system, Ohio is recognized nationwide as a "leader in sustainable school design." Combined, the 100 schools "have been obtaining 35 percent of their material from regional sources" with 22 percent of materials containing recycled content. In addition, these schools have diverted "over 188,114 tons and 57,000 cubic yards of construction waste from Ohio landfills." The announcement comes at the same time that these standards for environmentally friendly construction are coming under attack from legislators and lobbyists who disagree with some of the USBG's standards regarding product toxicity (See our Dec 13, 2013, blog post – "U.S. chemical companies push for anti-LEED legislation at the state and federal level"). For more, read the full news release.


 
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Dec 13, 2013

U.S. chemical companies push for anti-LEED legislation at the state and federal level
 

LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) standards have over the years become the de facto leader in environmentally friendly building practices, but now a "coalition of U.S. chemical companies calling itself the American High Performance Building Coalition" is leading the charge to ban these standards at the state and federal level, Columbus Business First reports. Opponents of LEED say the group that established them, the U.S. Green Building Council, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit, has a monopoly on such standards and that the organization has moved from focusing on energy efficiency to outright banning certain products due to unfounded toxicity claims.

Ohio is the latest state to see anti-LEED legislation, following North Carolina and Florida, according to The Associated Press (See our Nov 15, 2013, blog post – "Two Ohio senators introduce S.C.R. 25 to ban LEED certification in all public construction"). In addition, "efforts are underway to ask Congress to ban the use of LEED in federal construction projects, and executive orders and amendments in several states – including Maine, Georgia, Mississippi and Alabama – have essentially banned LEED in state construction." Many of the anti-LEED bills and amendments don't mention the standards by name, but instead "ban ratings systems that they say discriminate against American wood products," which LEED does through its "single, stringent forest-certification system," according to the AP. For more, read the full Columbus Business First and Associated Press stories.


 
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Dec 11, 2013

Industry leaders fear that federally designating the northern long-eared bat as an endangered species could cause significant hardships for Ohio projects
 

A preliminary decision announced in October by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to place the northern long-eared bat (Myotis septentrionalis) on the endangered species list is causing concern for "Ohioans with interests in coal mining, electricity transmission, oil and gas drilling, and road-and-bridge improvement," The Plain Dealer reports. The bat, which is facing extinction due to a disease called white-nose syndrome, tends to "roost in loose tree bark in the summer" and also likes to hibernate in abandoned mines. In addition to claiming that there is no indication that the bat is going extinct in the Midwest specifically, those in the aforementioned industries are expressing concerns that requirements for protecting the bats could result in significant project delays and other hardships. They also take issue with the fact that the preliminary decision fails to establish critical habitat for the species, which could potentially cause "wide variances between how different [Fish and Wildlife Service] field offices are handling the issue," the article said.

Bricker & Eckler actively participates in the Ohio Power Siting Board's (OPSB) regulatory process for reviewing and approving the construction of major utility facilities (electric generating power plants greater than 50 megawatts), economically significant wind farms (those greater than 5 megawatts), electric transmission lines and certain natural gas pipelines. Our legal team counsels clients regarding post-certification conditions relating to the construction and operation of new electric generating facilities, and advises them on environmental permitting issues and construction matters. For more information, visit our OPSB services webpage.


 
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Dec 10, 2013

Home of the Cleveland Browns will feature the NFL's first-ever system to convert stadium food waste into energy
 

A new project at FirstEnergy Stadium, home of the Cleveland Browns, that will convert the stadium's food waste into energy will be the first such project in the National Football League, Columbus Business First reports. Cleveland-based Quasar Energy Group, in partnership with Dairy management Inc., InSinkErator and Ohio State University, among others, expects to divert "3.5 tons of food waste per game" using a system that grinds the food waste into a liquid before pumping it into a storage tank that is then trucked to digestor facilities in northeast Ohio and in Wooster. In addition to helping "eliminate odor problems created by on-site garbage containers and the cost to transport the waste to landfills or composting sites," each digestor will generate 750 to 1,000 kilowatt hours of electricity – enough to "power up to about 220 homes in the Midwest," the article said. For more, read the full story.


 
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Nov 18, 2013

Planned recycling facility in Grove City will convert waste to power a green industrial park
 

The Grove City Council recently agreed to rezone 363 acres so that the Solid Waste Authority of Central Ohio (SWACO), which owns the property, can lease the land to a Florida company called Team Gemini for redevelopment, ThisWeek Community News. Team Gemini plans to build recycling facilities that will "tap into the SWACO waste stream and convert the materials into green products and energy" that will power the planned industrial park that is also part of the project. Initially, the recycling facility will use "about 25 percent of SWACO's waste stream, or 250,000 tons annually," the article said. For more, read the full story.


 
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Nov 04, 2013

Two reports rank Ohio poorly for in-state renewable energy generating capacity and power plant pollution
 

A new report from the American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE) ranks Ohio last "among 12 Midwestern states for [total] electricity generation capacity from renewable energy sources," Columbus Business First reports. The report, "Renewable Energy in the 50 States," includes the following in its installed renewable energy capacity: wind power, solar photovoltaic, solar thermal electric, geothermal power, hydropower, marine power, biomass and waste, ethanol and biodiesel. Only in the area of generating capacity from solar did Ohio rank well: the report found solar installations to be on the rise in Ohio, with 25 MW of new capacity added in 2012, giving the state the designation of having "the largest amount of installed solar energy capacity in the Midwest."

Meanwhile, the Environment Ohio Research and Policy Center released a report that ranked Ohio second only to Texas for "most carbon pollution from its power plants," the Aurora Advocate reports. The report, "America's Dirtiest Power Plants," found that Ohio's power plants are "responsible for 48 percent of statewide emissions and produce as much carbon each year as 25.2 million cars."


 
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Oct 18, 2013

Benefit corporations pursue environmental and societal benefits in addition to profits
 

Among the topics discussed during the fifth annual Sustainability Summit in Cleveland this month was the recently developed "benefit corporation" form, which is "actually the legal manifestation of the sustainability movement," The Plain Dealer reports. All boards of for-profit companies are legally required to keep profits up, but benefit corporations are also charged with "reporting how the corporation's actions have benefited society and the extent of its impact on the environment." For more, read the full story.


 
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Oct 11, 2013

Solar-powered house to be assembled as part of the Frank Lloyd Wright museum in Springfield
 

As part of its rebranding as the Westcott Center for Architecture and Design, the organization that spent $5.8 million over the last decade to restore Frank Lloyd Wright's only Prairie Style home in Ohio plans to assemble a solar-powered house designed and built by Norwich University of Vermont, Springfield News-Sun reports. The solar house – called the Delta-T90 – will be used "as a learning lab and a place to demonstrate clean energy technology, adding a permanent extra dimension to Westcott, which has been open as a museum since 2005." The organization regards the solar house as existing in the spirit of Wright, who designed energy efficient homes and "sought to alter the environment as little as possible with his buildings," the article said. For more, read the full story.


 
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Sep 29, 2013

Cincinnati receives federal Green Power Leadership Award
 

For its "leadership and citizen engagement in dramatically increasing its use of green power," the U.S. Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) recently awarded the city of Cincinnati one of two 2013 Green Power Leadership Awards, Cincinnati Business Courier reports. The city's Community Choice Aggregation program "allows people to get all of their power from green sources" and helped the city use 508 million kW hours of green power per year – "enough to offset the carbon dioxide emissions of 60,000 cars a year," the article said. For more, read the full story.


 
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Sep 10, 2013

Cincinnati entrepreneur launches Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign to develop the GoSun Stove
 

Unable to secure support through some of Cincinnati's startup incubators, entrepreneur Patrick Sherwin recently "launched a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign that seeks to raise $40,000 by October 27" to help develop his invention, WCPO.com reports. Sherwin invented the GoSun Stove – a $279 fuel-free cooking device that only weighs four pounds and can "bake, fry and boil food using only the sun's energy." In addition to appealing to outdoor enthusiasts, the GoSun Stove can also help reduce the number of people who "die prematurely from indoor air pollution caused by open fires and leaky stoves," the article said. For more, read the full story.


 
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Sep 06, 2013

Waste heat power generator to be located in Lancaster
 

After working with city of Lancaster and the regional economic development group Columbus 2020, Florida-based Cyclone Power Technologies announced last week that it will locate a generator that converts waste heat energy to electricity in Lancaster, The Columbus Dispatch reports. Cyclone's Ohio-based subsidiary, Cyclone-WHE, will operate the plant along with a partner company out of Carrol called Precision CNC. Production is expected to begin next year, with employment projected to reach "100 people by 2016," the article said. For more, read the full story.


 
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Sep 01, 2013

Ohio Wesleyan University to host colloquium on the interdisciplinary impacts of climate change
 

"International artists, scholars and writers from diverse fields" are going to offer their various perspectives on the issue of climate change during this year's Sagan National Colloquium at Ohio Wesleyan University in Delaware, The Columbus Dispatch reports. Events run from Sept. 12 through Oct. 29, the presentations from which will be streamed online. For more, including a schedule of speakers, read the full story and visit the colloquium website.


 
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Aug 22, 2013

Upcoming MORPC events focus on regional food systems and sustainability
 

The Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission (MORPC) is hosting two events in Columbus in the coming months that aim to explore sustainable solutions for the region. On Friday, September 6, a free, hourlong MORPC Center for Energy & Environment Education Forum will be held at 10 a.m. in the Dispatch Kitchen at North Market to discuss the challenges and benefits of developing a regional food system. Then, from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on October 8, MORPC will host its signature environmental conference – The Summit on Sustainability & the Environment – at COSI. Hundreds of community leaders will gather to discuss this year's theme, "Building Resiliency for a Climate of Change." To RSVP or for more information about either event, contact Brandi Whetstone at 614.233.4174 or bwhetstone@morpc.org.


 
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Aug 21, 2013

OSU students assist mayor's office with sustainability rating project
 

This summer, students from Ohio State University assisted Columbus Mayor Michael Coleman's office in its effort to make the city "more eco-friendly and sustainable," student publication The Lantern reports. As part of the office's Go Green Columbus initiative, the students gathered data from around Columbus that was then compared against other cities nationwide using the Sustainability Tools for Assessing and Rating (STAR) Communities system.


 
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Aug 14, 2013

Researchers and scientific practitioners discuss sustainable development during a conference in Cincinnati this week
 

The Third International Congress on Sustainability Science & Engineering (ICOSSE) is meeting in Cincinnati this week to discuss a variety of scientific and engineering innovations to foster sustainable development, Cincinnati Enquirer reports. More than 200 attendees are currently gathered at the Kingsgate Marriot at the University of Cincinnati to hear researchers and practitioners present ideas about water sustainability and innovative technology, sustainable manufacturing and sustainable energy. For more, read the program schedule.


 
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Aug 09, 2013

Former MIT president encourages investment in renewable energy R&D while natural gas is booming
 

During the Colorado Oil & Gas Association's annual Rocky Mountain Energy Summit, Susan Hockfield, the former and first female president of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), said that the United States should view the security created by domestic natural gas production as an opportunity to invest in renewable energy research and development, Denver Business Journal reports. Investments in renewable energy must be consistent for decades in order to achieve a low-carbon environment. Despite this, she said, the current trend is for renewable energy R&D to wax when oil prices are high and wane when oil prices drop, the article said. For more, read the full story.


 
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Aug 08, 2013

Panel discusses the challenges and opportunities of climate change for Ohio and the nation
 

During a panel discussion at the Athletic Club in Columbus last week, former Gov. Ted Strickland and other presenters explored the evidence behind climate change as well as its immediate and future implications, The Columbus Dispatch reports. The discussion, "A Dialogue on Climate Impacts and Opportunities in Ohio," was sponsored by the University Clean Energy Alliance of Ohio (UCEAO), Ohio Interfaith Power and Light, and the Truman National Security Project. Veterans, climate experts, business and labor leaders, and leaders in the faith and public health community discussed local impacts, national security issues and opportunities for addressing the challenges, especially in shifts in energy production, a press release from UCEAO said. For more, read the full story and press release.


 
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Aug 05, 2013

Low-tech building materials are benefiting from a new surge in green building construction
 

A new report from Navigant Research found that low-tech building materials such as wood, straw and bamboo are benefiting from increased demand in green building materials, Denver Business Journal reports. The report, "Materials in Green Buildings," said the "global market for green construction materials is expected to be more than $254 billion a year in 2020, up from $116 billion in 2013." For more, read the full story and report.


 
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Jul 29, 2013

U.S. Rep. Jim Renacci (R-OH) outlines how two pieces of federal legislation would impact Ohio
 

U.S. Representative Jim Renacci (R-OH) wrote a commentary for The Daily Record last week describing the impact that two recently introduced pieces of legislation could have on Ohio. The Energy Consumers Relief would require the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to "submit a cost benefit analysis report to Congress before the agency can impose any new rule or regulation that will result in more than $1 billion in compliance costs." Because Ohio relies so heavily on coal for electricity, Renacci said this bill would prevent consumer costs from increasing drastically. Renacci co-sponsored the second piece of legislation, called the Coal Residuals Reuse and Management Act. He said that this bill would prevent the EPA from unnecessarily designating coal ash as a "hazardous material." Allowing the agency to move forward, he said, would put "up to 316,000 jobs at risk," as compliance costs could result in coal-fired power plants being shut down completely, the article said. For more, read the full story.


 
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Jul 26, 2013

Daniel Hawkins to replace Harland H. Hale as Franklin County's environmental court judge
 

Last week, Ohio Gov. John Kasich announced the appointment of Franklin County Assistant Prosecutor Daniel Hawkins as the new judge on the Franklin County Municipal Court, Environmental Division, effective July 29, 2013, The Columbus Dispatch reports. He is replacing Judge Harland H. Hale, who retired. Hawkins will have to run in November if he wants to retain the seat for the remainder of the unexpired term, which ends January 7, 2016. For more, read the full story and press release.


 
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Jul 17, 2013

Report advises energy sector to make "water-smart" choices when replacing older power plants
 

A new report from the Union of Concerned Scientists concludes that federal environmental regulations and an influx of cheap, domestic natural gas are driving the energy sector to undergo its most significant transition in the last half century. The report, "Water-Smart Power: Strengthening the U.S. Electricity System in a Warming World," says that the decisions that energy companies make now regarding the replacement of old power plants are critical to preserving water resources and minimizing effects on climate change in the future. Power-generating companies that elect to replace coal-fired power plants with ones that burn natural gas are going to be "at risk in the long term" of contributing to significant problems with regard to climate and water because traditional power generation depends heavily on water, as does the hydraulic fracturing process often used to recover the gas. Wind, solar and other renewable forms of energy do not depend heavily on water and, therefore, they and energy efficiency measures have the potential to dramatically reduce carbon emissions and water use should they be elected to replace these plants, the report said. For more, read the full report.


 
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Jul 14, 2013

FirstEnergy Corp. cites cost of EPA compliance for decision to deactivate two coal-fired plants in Pennsylvania
 

Akron-based First Energy Corp. said it is deactivating two of its coal-fired power plants in southwest Pennsylvania – the Hatfield Ferry Power Station in Masontown and the Mitchell Power Station in Courtney – due to compliance costs related to current and future federal regulations, Akron Beacon Journal reports. Last fall, the company considered retrofitting the Hatfield plant to burn natural gas in addition to coal, but the plan never moved forward. The closing of these two plants represents "about 30 percent of an estimated $925 million cost to comply with the Environmental Protection Agency's Mercury and Air Toxics Standards," the article said. For more, read the full story.


 
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Jul 08, 2013

GM says installing efficient lighting at its Lordstown complex is both environmentally and economically sound
 

General Motors Co. expects to save $800,000 by replacing 1,611 existing lighting fixtures at its assembly and stamping complex in Lordstown, Trumbull County, with 1,246 LED solid-state lighting fixtures that will not only cost less, but also consume less energy and require less maintenance, a company press release announced. Its "largest such conversion in North America," the company anticipates the project will reduce energy consumption 84 percent and eliminate 8,500 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions, the article said. For more, read the full press release.


 
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Jun 29, 2013

President Obama's climate change action plan calls for more renewable energy and energy efficiency
 

In his climate change action plan released on Tuesday, President Barack Obama directed the Department of the Interior to permit enough renewable energy projects on public lands by 2020 to power more than six million homes, North American Windpower reports. The plan consists of three main components: reducing carbon pollution, preparing state and local governments for climate change, and leading international efforts to reduce carbon pollution. The plan also sets a new goal to "install 100 megawatts of renewables on federally assisted housing by 2020" and maintains the commitment to deploy renewables on military installations. For more, read the full story and President Obama's Climate Action Plan Fact Sheet.


 
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Jun 27, 2013

Better Buildings Northwest Ohio has helped 964 homeowners with energy efficiency upgrades since 2009
 

Better Buildings Northwest Ohio, a joint venture between Columbia Gas of Ohio and the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority, has helped 964 homeowners complete recommended energy efficiency upgrades since 2009, Toledo Free Press reports. The $50 that homeowners pay for the initial home audit goes toward the cost of the upgrades should the they decide to do them. So far, 964 homes out of 1,700 audited have chosen to make the recommended improvements.  For more, read the full story


 
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Jun 19, 2013

Survey says companies with green practices and products earn higher profits
 

A national survey of 1,305 small businesses found those who offered green products and services were "far more likely to report strong revenue growth" through the Great Recession than their conventional counterparts. Undertaken by the nonprofit ethical consumerism group Green America, the microenterprise advocacy group Association for Enterprise Opportunity and the sustainable development company EcoVentures International, "Small Business Sustainability Report, 2013: The Big Green Opportunity for Small Business in the U.S." features several figures, including that:

  • from 2006-2011, the green building segment grew 1,700 percent compared to the overall market's 17 percent contraction; 
  • from 2002-2011, the use of renewable energy grew 456 percent while use of non-renewable fuels fell by 3.2 percent; and
  • from 2002-2001, the organic food segment grew 238 percent compared to the overall food market's 33 percent growth.
For more, read the full press release and report.


 
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Jun 13, 2013

Chemical industry says proposed LEED certification revisions unfairly target safe chemicals
 

The chemical industry is fighting hard against proposed revisions to LEED certification that it says would stigmatize – and decrease the market for – certain chemical products used in construction that pose little health risk when employed properly, Bloomberg reports. The American Chemistry Society, whose members include DuPont Co. and Dow Chemical Co., argue that with regard to the updated protocols known as LEED 4, the U.S. Green Building Council, which is the non-governmental organization that created the "voluntary but widely used" Leadership and Environment Design (LEED) standards, is treading into a public health policy area with regard to chemical regulation that it insists is better suited for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Proponents of the measure say the chemical industry's concerns are overblown and that adherence to the proposed materials standard would only provide a two-point advantage for those seeking a range of certifications that require between 40 and 80 points. For more, read the full story.


 
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Feb 08, 2013

OSU researchers develop process that reduces carbon dioxide emissions from coal by 99 percent
 

Ohio State University researchers have developed a process to harness coal’s energy by heating it, instead of burning it, that reduces coal’s carbon dioxide emissions by 99 percent, The Columbus Dispatch reports. The goal is for coal-fired power plants to be retrofitted with this technology, which is called “coal-direct chemical looping” and uses iron-oxide pellets for an oxygen source, the article said. For more, read the full story.


 
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Aug 30, 2012

Association of Ohio Recyclers to host annual conference October 29-30 in Cincinnati
 

The Association of Ohio Recyclers (AOR) Conference will be held at the Cincinnati Zoo Conference Center on October 29-30, 2012. Cincinnati-based Rumpke Recycling is the convening sponsor, and the theme of the conference is “Sustainable Materials Management,” according to AOR’s website. Key program topics include workshops on “Ohio EPA’s review of House Bill 592 and emerging technologies for glass recycling and reuse.”


 
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Jun 27, 2012

Bricker sets the PACE: Ohio achieves first PACE bond issuance with Bricker & Eckler as bond counsel
 

Bricker & Eckler served as bond counsel for the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority as it issued the first PACE bonds in Ohio. On May 24, the port authority completed the $5.325 million bond transaction by issuing bonds through its Northwest Ohio Bond Fund. The transaction, a cooperative effort of the port authority, the port authority’s BetterBuildings Northwest Ohio program and the city of Toledo, was aimed at improving the energy efficiency and environmental performance of Toledo’s municipal buildings. The city of Toledo anticipates reducing its energy costs with the financed improvements, which include replacing windows, upgrading light fixtures and boilers, installing vacancy sensors, and replacing or insulating hot water tanks. 

Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) bonds are a financial tool used by property owners to fund energy efficiency improvements on their properties. Property owners who take advantage of PACE funding opportunities may use the money for a variety of projects, including updating existing office buildings or warehouses, or acquiring an alternative energy source, like solar panels or wind turbines. 

Bricker & Eckler is Ohio’s leader in PACE financing. Bricker attorneys work with private property owners and governmental entities to create the special improvement district necessary to implement PACE financing, levy assessments and structure the financing arrangements necessary to fund the improvements. For more information, read the full story


 
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May 31, 2012

Coal industry fights environmentalists, natural gas industry
 

Environmental regulations and the low cost of natural gas are pushing Columbus-based American Electric Power to either close several coal-fired power plants or switch them over to natural gas, The New York Times reports. As the coal industry lobbies and sues to reverse this trend, it has won some victories where power plants retrofit – at the expense of the customer – to continue burning coal with fewer pollutants, the article said. For more, read the full story here.


 
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Apr 16, 2012

Governor Kasich acknowledges climate change
 

Gov. Kasich surprised some during a GOP fundraiser in Ross County last Thursday when he said that his belief in global warming encouraged him to pursue cleaner energy technologies, The Columbus Dispatch reports. Gov. Kasich was speaking with regard to his new energy policy, which includes "shale drilling, clean-coal technology, capturing waste heat and support for solar and wind energy," the article said. For more, read the full story here.
 
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Jan 26, 2012

Four Ohio coal-fired power plants will close due to the EPA's new rules
 

In response to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's new Mercury and Air Toxic Standards (MATS), Akron-based FirstEnergy Corp. announced today that it will close six coal-fired power plants – four of which are in Ohio, according to an article in the Akron Beacon Journal. The company determined that it would not be cost effective to retrofit these plants into compliance with MATS, the article said. For more, including a list of the closing plants, read the full story here.


 
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Jan 19, 2012

Ohio energy summit videos available online
 

The Battelle Memorial Institute, a Columbus-based nonprofit research institution, has made available streaming video from The Ohio Governor's 21st Century Energy & Economy Summit, which took place from September 21-22, 2011, at The Ohio State University. Topics included coal; wind, solar and efficiency; environment, technology and community impacts; alternative transportation fuels; etc. Speakers included Gov. John Kasich, energy industry executives and energy policy specialists.


 
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Nov 23, 2011

Environmental group profiles Cleveland's "clean economy"
 

A Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) blog is highlighting a "rust busting road trip" to Cleveland to profile the city's "clean economy." The post examines Cleveland's strides in energy-efficient lighting and other technologies. This marks the second time this year (earlier posts available here) that NRDC has visited Ohio to report on the state's leadership in energy efficiency and renewable energy.


 
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Nov 21, 2011

Study details potential economic benefits of new federal air-pollution rules
 

A new study examines the potential positive economic impacts resulting from companies’ investments in emission control technology in response to new U.S. Environmental Protection Agency air-pollution rules. The report, “New Jobs – Cleaner Air Part II: An investment in American Businesses and American Jobs,” released by Ceres in collaboration with the Institute of Clean Air Companies (ICAC), highlights specific case studies of companies involved in building a fleet of modern power plants.


 
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Oct 30, 2011

Cleveland-based environmental magazine launches news website
 

EcoWatch, a Cleveland-based environment news magazine, has launched a news website in partnership with Waterkeeper Alliance, the environmental advocacy group founded by Robert F. Kennedy Jr., according to an article in The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer. The new website, ecowatch.org, is designed to expand EcoWatch's news reach and will pull environmental news from more than 700 organizations around the country.


 
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Sep 08, 2011

Melink Corp. to host open house celebrating "net-zero energy" achievement
 

The Melink Corporation is holding an open house on Wednesday, September 28 to celebrate achieving "net-zero energy" for the company's corporate campus in Milford, Ohio. The company achieved zero energy consumption for the year through conservation and efficiency efforts as well as the addition of on-site, renewable energy generation. Attendees are invited to tour the building to see how Melink both saves energy and creates it. Click here for registration and travel information.


 
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Sep 07, 2011

Event showcases all-electric cars
 

Clean Fuels Ohio recently hosted an event in Columbus to promote clean fuels and showcase all-electric vehicles including the new Coda. Built by an automaker in California, the Coda’s battery may be manufactured in Columbus if the company secures a $500 million-plus federal loan to build the plant here. Clean Fuels Ohio is a nonprofit group based at The Ohio State University. View this link to learn more. The Columbus Dispatch covered the event in an article here, and posted a YouTube video here.


 
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Aug 26, 2011

6.4 MW landfill gas plant opens in Glenford, Ohio
 

The new gas-to-energy plant at the landfill near Glenford, Ohio will serve approximately 4,000 homes according to a recent article in the Lancaster Eagle Gazette.com. The 9,400-square-foot facility draws methane gas from 70 collection wells at the landfill. Read more here.


 
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Aug 19, 2011

Ohio EPA releases draft general air permit for shale gas production for interested party comment
 

Ohio EPA has created a new general air permit that covers emission limits, operating restrictions, and monitoring, testing and reporting requirements for shale gas production. The agency states that the general permit will create consistent standards for the sites and will allow most applicants to apply for and receive permits in as little as two weeks. While the general permit will cover internal combustion engines, dehydration systems, truck-loading racks, storage tanks, flares and unpaved roadways, it will not cover activities that occur during the drilling and hydraulic fracturing phase. In the view of Ohio EPA, these activities are temporary and therefore exempt from permitting. The agency has not finalized the draft general permit and will be making it available for a 30-day public comment period later. Ohio EPA plans on announcing the beginning of the public comment period in the near future. The current version of the draft general permit, qualifying criteria and related information are available online here. The general permit is expected to be finalized and made available to applicants this fall.


 
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Aug 15, 2011

New solar array in Toledo will help supply energy to water treatment plant
 

A new solar array in Toledo will help supply energy to water treatment plant The City of Toledo is using the power of the sun to lower energy costs needed to run its water treatment plant. According to a recent article in The Toledo Blade, a joint venture between the city, the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority and IPS Energy Ventures helped to get the $5.2 million project off the ground. The solar array is expected to save the city one cent per kilowatt hour and provide approximately one-quarter of the plant’s annual energy needs.


 
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Aug 11, 2011

Wind turbine manufacturer starts operations at new Michigan factory
 

Ventower Industries LLC dedicated its new wind turbine manufacturing plant across the border from Toledo in Monroe, Mich., according to an article in The (Toledo) Blade. The $25 million factory will ultimately employ 150 people and is being built on a former landfill. By capping the landfill, addressing pollution and creating green jobs, this venture is seen as a double win for the economically distressed Great Lakes region.
 
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Jul 19, 2011

State releases $1.2 million for Brownfield cleanup
 

The State of Ohio approved more than one million dollars last week as part of The Clean Ohio Assistance Fund.  According to this article on the MRFTech Web site, the fund "supports Brownfield redevelopment in Ohio’s urban areas."  Areas receiving money include Brown County, City of Geneva, City of Louisville, Columbiana County Port Authority and the Coshocton Port Authority.
 
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Jun 17, 2011

Battelle, UMass Boston to host global climate change conference
 

Columbus-based Battelle Memorial Institute and the Collaborative Institute for Oceans, Climate and Security (CIOCS) at University of Massachusetts Boston announced that they have teamed to host the first-ever Global Conference on Oceans, Climate and Security in May 2012. The three-day conference in Boston, expected to be a bi-annual event for CIOCS, will address the impact of climate change on ocean systems and the consequent impact on human and national security. More information is available here


 
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Jun 13, 2011

AEP says proposed emissions rules would force plant closures, job cuts
 

Columbus-based American Electric Power Co. is warning that it would have to shut down five plants, reduce operations at six others and cut 600 jobs to comply with new rules for coal-fired power plants proposed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, according to an Associated Press article in Bloomberg Businessweek. U.S. EPA, meanwhile, is likely to delay proposing the draft greenhouse-gas emissions limits at issue. The EPA faced a July 26 deadline to propose carbon-emissions standards for electric utilities under an agreement with three environmental groups, 11 states, the District of Columbia and New York City. Federal regulators are now seeking a two-month extension from parties to the settlement to evaluate information from companies affected by the rule, according to a separate Bloomberg article


 
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Apr 25, 2011

Ohio State, Battelle, Edison Welding combine talents to help manufacturers go green
 

Ohio State University and research giant Battelle are trying to help manufacturers save energy and reduce waste, according to this article in Columbus Business First. Battelle wants to catalyze innovation in energy, environment and materials science, and is currently in collaborative talks with The Ohio State University's engineering school and the private Edison Welding Institute in Columbus.

The partnership wants to focus on renewable energy, but also developing, patenting and selling licenses to industrial processes for sustainable manufacturing, such as recycling the rare metals essential to making chips for smartphones and flat-screen TVs, according to the article.


 
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Mar 18, 2011

EPA extends greenhouse gas emissions reporting deadline to September 2011
 

Pursuant to a congressional mandate in the 2007 Consolidated Appropriations Act, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized rules establishing mandatory reporting requirements for greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in 2009.  Originally, facilities subject to the reporting rules were required to begin collecting emissions data in 2010, with the first annual report due on March 1, 2011.  Recently, however, the EPA extended the reporting deadline to September 31, 2011 because its computer system proved unable to handle all of the reports by the March deadline. 
 
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Mar 17, 2011

Congress revisits bill to regulate hydraulic fracking
 

According to this article in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, U.S. Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) recently introduced legislation to regulate aspects of natural-gas drilling, primarily to increase the disclosure and regulation of chemicals used during the hydraulic fracturing process. Hydraulic fracturing is the process of injecting a highly pressurized mixture of water, sand and chemicals into shale formations to expand them in order to stimulate gas production.
 
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Mar 14, 2011

Environmentalists concerned that "frack" drilling for natural gas in Ohio is unsafe
 

According to an article in The (Cleveland ) Plain Dealer, Lawrence Wickstrom, chief of the Ohio Geological Survey, recently told the Ohio Oil and Gas Association that potentially trillions of cubic feet of gas and billions of barrels of oil lie deep under Ohio.

Unfortunately, getting to the gas and oil requires producers to rely on a recovery method known as "frack" drilling. With the frack process, producers drill horizontal legs in each of the very deep vertical wells and then hydraulically fracture -- or "frack" -- the rock along each leg with a mixture of water, sand and chemicals under very high pressure.
 
Environmentalists claim that frack drilling is dangerous, raising enough concern to prompt a fracturing moratorium in New York state. There is also concern that the gas released could find its way into water wells through runaway fractures.
 
"There is no way that the fracking process is going to affect ground water," said Wickstrom, arguing that the sheer depth of the wells, and resulting weight of the rock and earth above, would prevent it.
 
To read the complete article, visit the Plain Dealer web site.


 
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Mar 10, 2011

Wall Street Journal article features Utica Shale development in Ohio
 

A recent article in the Wall Street Journal highlights the new oil-and-gas development opportunities in Ohio relating to Utica Shale. While many in northeastern Ohio have embraced the possibility of oil development, some local leaders are worried about safety and harm to the environment. Many environmental scientists also contend that the shale drilling process, known as hydraulic fracturing (or fracking), risks contaminating groundwater. But the oil industry says the process, which involves using chemicals, water and sand to crack open shale to release its oil and gas, is safe.

To read more about Marcellus and Utica Shale development in Ohio, go to the Bricker & Eckler Web site.


 
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Mar 10, 2011

Wall Street Journal article features Utica Shale development in Ohio
 

A recent article in the Wall Street Journal highlights the new oil-and-gas development opportunities in Ohio relating to Utica Shale. While many in northeastern Ohio have embraced the possibility of oil development, some local leaders are worried about safety and harm to the environment. Many environmental scientists also contend that the shale drilling process, known as hydraulic fracturing (or fracking), risks contaminating groundwater. But the oil industry says the process, which involves using chemicals, water and sand to crack open shale to release its oil and gas, is safe.

To read more about Marcellus and Utica Shale development in Ohio, go to the Bricker & Eckler Web site.


 
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Feb 10, 2011

Miller-Coors plant in Trenton reduces landfill garbage by recycling and recovery
 

Kelly Harris, Sustainable Development Coordinator at the Miller-Coors plant in Trenton, Ohio, recently told staff members of Ohio Citizen Action that the plant had reduced the amount of garbage going to the Rumpke Sanitary Landfill from 56 tons per month down to 11 tons per month. The garbage is now sent to a waste-to-energy incinerator near Indianapolis. Harris said the plant had accomplished its waste reduction—in a campaign to achieve zero waste—through recycling and recovery programs. Many waste streams are recycled and spent grain from the brewing process is sent to feed local cows. “We found we were wasting two tons a month less paper ... just by collecting all the labels that fell off during bottling and handling,” said Harris.

Ohio Citizen Action is a nonprofit/nonpartisan environmental group founded in 1975 and dedicated to preventing pollution. To read more, visit the Ohio Citizen Action Web site.


 
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Feb 09, 2011

State brownfield loan program receives makeover
 

The Ohio Water Development Authority (OWDA) and Ohio Department of Development (ODOD) recently reached an agreement to expand and move OWDA's Brownfield Loan Program. The program will now be housed at ODOD with the state's other brownfield remediation programs.


 
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Feb 03, 2011

Environmentalists challenge biomass burning at Dayton power plant
 

A number of environmental groups have joined forces to appeal a recent decision by the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to permit the Dayton Power & Light Company (DP&L) to burn trees, grasses and other unspecified “biomass” at the company’s Killen Station, a coal-fired power plant in Adams County, Ohio. Environmentalists are troubled by the timing of the Ohio EPA’s decision, and believe that its issuance of the final permit violates Ohio law and the federal Clean Air Act, according to the Dayton Daily News and the Ohio Environmental Law Center.

Under the permit, DP&L is allowed to burn a mixture of coal with up to 7 percent content of grass and sawdust biomass material. Biomass can also include animal manure, nut and grain hulls, orchard clippings, cornstalks and coffee grounds. The permit was subject to a public hearing in Manchester, Ohio, on December 13, 2010, with written comments accepted through December 20, 2010.  Ohio EPA granted the final permit nine days later in the waning days of the Strickland administration.

 “There are some real concerns about whether the agency gave due consideration to some of the issues in this permit and to the public’s comments,” said Will Reisinger, staff attorney for the Ohio Environmental Council.  “It appears that [Ohio] EPA rushed the Killen application through the permitting process in order to help DP&L avoid new federal pollution standards,” Reisinger added.

Read more of the story in the Dayton Daily News or on the Ohio Environmental Law Center Web site.


 
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Feb 02, 2011

Ohio EPA sets hearing on proposed greenhouse gas rules
 

The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will hold a public hearing on February 11, 2011, to discuss proposed rules that would require only very large emitters of greenhouse gases to obtain clean-air permits for their Ohio operations. The rules were originally adopted through a governor’s executive order signed on December 30, 2010.

Beginning January 2, 2011, states are required by the U.S. EPA to begin permitting greenhouse gas emissions from “major sources” of greenhouse gases. Ohio EPA’s proposed rules restrict gas regulatory requirements to only those large sources covered by U.S. EPA’s regulations. There has been significant support from Ohio businesses for Ohio to have these rules in place.

The U.S. EPA has adopted “tailoring” rules that raise the major source-permitting threshold for greenhouse gases to 75,000 tons per year or 100,000 tons per year depending on the circumstances. Ohio EPA’s proposed rules would permanently raise the emission levels that would trigger permitting in Ohio to the same levels as those adopted by the federal government. 

A public hearing to accept comments on these proposed rules will be held at 1:30 p.m. on February 11 at Ohio EPA, Lazarus Government Center, 50 W. Town St., Suite 700, Columbus. Visitors should bring a photo ID.


 
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Dec 08, 2010

U.S. EPA asks federal court to delay air-pollution rule
 

Courtesy of Politico.com, the Obama administration wants to delay the release of a controversial air pollution rule that has come under fire from myriad lawmakers and industry groups. The U.S. EPA asked the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on Tuesday to delay by more than a year its court-ordered deadline for issuing rules aimed at slashing toxic air pollution from industrial boilers and solid-waste incinerators to give the agency more time to weigh the flood of comments it received. The agency is seeking to push back its Jan. 16, 2011, deadline to April 2012, according to the report.


 
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Nov 11, 2010

EPA releases greenhouse gas guidelines for states
 

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has released guidelines instructing states how to issue permits for industrial facilities that are major sources of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions when new federal regulations take effect on January 2, 2011. The agency reportedly crafted the guidelines to give states substantial flexibility in deciding how best to limit GHG emissions, according to this article in The Wall Street Journal.

In the absence of congressional action on climate and energy legislation - which is likely to continue under a divided Congress when the Republicans take control of the U.S. House next year - the EPA has pressed ahead with its plans to bring GHG emissions under its regulatory authority. Business groups and politicians from major industrial states have been critical of the EPA's plans. And based on the reaction to the EPA's new guidelines, that criticism is also likely to continue.

Other news accounts of the guidelines are available here, here and here. The full guidance document is available here (pdf required).


 
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Oct 05, 2010

Cleveland, suburbs forming special district to help businesses invest in energy improvements
 

Cleveland and ten of its surrounding suburbs are forming a special district to help owners of commercial and industrial properties invest in solar panels and other alternative-energy systems. As reported in The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer, the “alternative-energy district” will be the first of its kind in Ohio. Cities within the district will help businesses borrow for energy improvements, with the loans being paid off through assessments on property taxes.

For more information read The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer article here.


 
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Aug 23, 2010

Federal report legitimizes carbon capture, notes barriers to its adoption
 

A new federal report (pdf) finds that carbon capture and storage (CCS) is a viable technology, but notes that its widespread market acceptance will take decades absent government financial and policy support. The report was released by the Interagency Task Force on Carbon Capture and Storage, established by President Obama in February and co-chaired by the U.S. Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Agency. 

The report concludes that CCS can play an important role in reducing domestic greenhouse gas emissions while preserving the option of using abundant domestic fossil energy resources. However, widespread cost-effective deployment of CCS will occur only if the technology is commercially available at economically competitive prices and supportive national policy frameworks are in place.


 
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Aug 05, 2010

EPA releases guidance document addressing environmental justice concerns
 

On July 22, 2010, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a guide to assist EPA staff in determining whether its actions raise environmental justice concerns.  The concept of environmental justice involves the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people in the development, implementation and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations and policies.  More specifically, environmental justice means that minorities, low-income groups, indigenous populations and tribes should not bear a disproportionate burden of environmental harms and risks, and should have a meaningful opportunity to participate in the development of environmental regulations and policies.
 
In order to incorporate environmental justice into the EPA's regulatory scheme, the interim guidance document provides a roadmap that EPA working groups can use to provide a voice to environmental justice communities.  This roadmap asks EPA workgroups to respond to three questions during the rule-making/policy-making process:

1. How did your public participation process provide transparency and meaningful participation for minority, low-income, indigenous populations and tribes?
2. How did you identify and address existing and new disproportionate environmental and public health impacts on environmental justice communities?
3. How did the actions taken under #1 and #2 affect the final decision?

As the EPA begins to consider environmental justice concerns in its actions, it is anticipated that the interim guide will be revised and updated later this year.  For more information, visit the EPA's Web site to read the EPA's Interim Guidance on Considering Environmental Justice During the Development of an Action.


 
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Aug 03, 2010

Modification to U.S. EPA's Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule spurs legal challenge in D.C. circuit court
 

On April 22, 2010, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s new Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule took effect, thereby requiring all renovations or dust sampling activities at single family homes, multi-family housing and child-occupied facilities (e.g., day-care centers, pre-schools and kindergarten classrooms) built before 1978 to be performed by a certified firm (broadly defined to include a company, partnership, corporation, sole proprietorship or individual).  Slipping under the radar, U.S. EPA issued an important modification to the Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule on April 23, 2010 that eliminated an "opt-out" provision allowing contractors to avoid following lead-safe work practices upon certification that neither children under the age of six years nor pregnant woman were living in the building being repaired and/or renovated.  The elimination of the opt-out took effect on July 6, 2010 and was designed to ensure that children and pregnant women are truly protected from the dangers of lead paint.  On July 8, 2010, however, a coalition of trade associations filed a petition for review with the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals challenging U.S. EPA's elimination of the opt-out. 

 
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Jun 03, 2010

P&G launches supplier environmental sustainability scorecard
 

Cincinnati-based Procter & Gamble Co. announced the launch of its Supplier Environmental Sustainability Scorecard and rating process to measure and improve the environmental performance of its key suppliers. The new scorecard will assess P&G suppliers' environmental footprint and encourage continued improvement by annually measuring energy use, water use, waste disposal and greenhouse gas emissions. P&G is hoping that its scorecard will become the industry standard for evaluating supplier sustainability. News of the announcement can be found here.


 
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May 14, 2010

Ohio Supreme Court justice expresses concerns about Ohio Power Siting Board's treatment of aesthetic considerations
 

The Ohio Supreme Court recently affirmed the ruling of the Ohio Power Siting Board granting FirstEnergy's transmission affiliate a certificate for the construction of a new transmission line in Geauga County, Ohio. You can read the Opinion here. Wind developers going through the Ohio Power Siting Board process, however, should take note of the strong concurring opinion of Justice Pfeiffer. Justice Pfeiffer expressed his concerns that the Board "may not be giving appropriate consideration to aesthetic values." Further explaining his position, Justice Pfeiffer noted that the "members of the Power Siting Board should ensure that their staff members are aware of the importance of preserving nature and scenery when considering sites for utility resources, without of course unduly sacrificing economic impact."


 
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May 14, 2010

U.S. EPA issues final tailoring rule introducing greenhouse gas emissions from stationary sources to Clean Air Act permitting programs
 

On May 13, 2010, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued its final rule bringing greenhouse gas emissions from stationary sources under the permitting programs of the Clean Air Act. The 515 page final rule specifically “tailors” the requirements of the Clean Air Act to attempt to limit the number of facilities requiring permits under the New Source Review Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) and Title V programs. To do so, the rule establishes a phased-in approach under which all new facilities emitting 100,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) per year (and existing facilities that complete modifications increasing GHG emissions by at least 75,000 metric tons of CO2e per year) would be subject to the rule starting in July 2011. For more information, a copy of the final rule can be found at http://www.epa.gov/nsr/documents/20100413final.pdf.


 
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Oct 01, 2009

Climate Change Spurs Federal Action: EPA Issues Final Rule Requiring Mandatory Reporting of Greenhouse Gases
 

US EPA released its final greenhouse gas rule late last week.  The rule currently  targets only large emitters of greenhouse gases to report their emissions, and it is estimated that the rule will account for nearly 85% of all GHG emissions in the United States.  It is widely expected that the implementation of any carbon legislation proposal will make this mandatory reporting more significant and will be the basis for metrics going forward. 


 
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Sep 25, 2009

Court of Appeals denies relief from one-hour hearings in Ohio Environmental Review Appeals Commission (ERAC) hearings
 

Today the Tenth District (Franklin County, Ohio) Court of Appeals issued a ruling denying an unopposed motion to stop ERAC's practice of scheduling one-hour de novo hearings to satisfy a December 15, 2009 deadline imposed by Ohio's recently enacted budget bill. ERAC hears appeals from decisions by the Director of Ohio EPA, including appeals of permits for renewable energy projects (if such permits are required for the project). According to the new statutory deadlines, ERAC must decide appeals within one year from the filing of the appeal and for some pending appeals (filed before April 15, 2009), ERAC must decide the appeals by December 15, 2009. These latter appeals, numbering about 300 appeals, have been scheduled for one-hour hearings in October and November of this year. The Court of Appeals denied relief from this expedited scheduling.

View copy of ruling


 
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