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As FBI investigates nuclear bribery, environmentalists call for review of controversial Ohio nuclear bailout bill

Environmental groups want controversial Ohio nuclear bailout bill reexamined; HB6 now at the center of FBI investigation, Cleveland.com, By Emily Bamforth, cleveland.com 22 Jul 20, CLEVELAND, Ohio — Ohio House Bill 6 bailed out two FirstEnergy power plants and gave subsidies to coal plants, while dismantling mandates designed to move Ohio’s clean energy landscape forward.

The controversial bill, passed last year, is now the centerpiece of a federal bribery investigation, which implicates Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder, one of the most outspoken supporters of HB6, and four associates.

The corruption scandal is now prompting groups that already opposed HB6 because of its implications for the economy or environment to call for a re-examination of the bill, or its total repeal. Both the Sierra Club and American Wind Energy Association issued statements on the case Tuesday evening.

“The legislative push to bail out legacy generation and roll back Ohio’s renewable energy commitments was always against the will of Ohioans, who overwhelmingly support renewable energy,” American Wind Energy Association Eastern State Affairs Director Andrew Gohn said in a statement. “It now appears that the passage of this bill was not just against the will of the people, but also may have involved serious and possibly criminal impropriety.”

Supporters of the bill claimed the bailout would save jobs in nuclear energy and reconfigure surcharges to Ohio customers to save money. But those fighting against it, including environmental groups, balked at the changes which effectively “gutted” energy-efficiency and renewable-energy mandates for utilities.

The bill changed Ohio’s renewable-energy goal from a maximum of 12.5 percent by 2027 to 8.5 percent by 2026. Under Ohio requirements introduced in 2008, utilities must reduce customers’ power usage by 22 percent by 2027.

Under House Bill 6, these standards would end after utilities companies reached a 17.5 percent drop in customer power use.

The bill also included subsidies for coal power plants.

Neil Waggoner, the Sierra Club Ohio’s Beyond Coal Campaign representative, said this year the group has seen utilities companies petitioning the state’s public utilities commission to end energy efficiency programs, because companies are already hitting the lowered standard.

“There’s a reason why people called HB6 one of the most regressive energy bills in the United States,” he said……… https://www.cleveland.com/news/2020/07/environmental-groups-want-controversial-ohio-nuclear-bailout-bill-reexamined-hb6-now-at-the-center-of-fbi-investigation.html

July 23, 2020 - Posted by | politics, secrets,lies and civil liberties, USA

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