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Astounding failure by Ohio Republican leadership to repeal nuclear bailout law

Rep. Bill Seitz At Forefront Of Key Points In Nuclear Bailout Law HB 6,  Cincinnati Public Radio 6 Jan 21,    By KATHIANN M. KOWALSKI  Documents made available last week show how House Majority Floor Leader Bill Seitz, R-Cincinnati, championed gutting Ohio’s clean energy standards in the state’s 2019 coal and nuclear bailout law. He has since served as a force against repeal.

Claims in a federal complaint released in July indicate that the law was at the heart of an alleged corruption scheme involving roughly $60 million. Former Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder, R-Glenford, and others were arrested last summer.

Failure to repeal the law in 2020 was “an astounding failure by Republican leadership,” said Rep. David Leland, D-Columbus, as the legislature adjourned last month……..

Allegations in the federal criminal case indicate that FirstEnergy and FirstEnergy Solutions — now known as Energy Harbor — provided most of the funding for an alleged scheme to elect favorable lawmakers and then to pass and defend HB 6.  …….

Rulings from the Ohio Supreme Court and the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas have temporarily postponed collection of the nuclear plant subsidies anyway. Meanwhile, FirstEnergy benefits from the 2019 law’s revenue guarantee provision. Consumers pay subsidies for the old coal plants. And provisions that gutted Ohio’s renewable energy and energy efficiency standards are in full force…….

FirstEnergy Solutions paid money to Generation Now. The dark money group is a defendant in the criminal case.

And while Seitz maintained that “no alleged corruption infected all of HB 6,” others such as Rep. Mike Skindell, D-Lakewood, have stressed that “all of it — not just part of it” is tainted by the alleged corruption.

“To suggest we can parse out which pieces of the bill were not the product of corruption is wishful thinking,” Leppla said. “There is an ongoing FBI investigation, with more shoes likely to drop, so we won’t know the full extent of the corruption for some time.”

Although a FirstEnergy Solutions officer provided brief testimony on HB 6 in 2019, the company has not provided financial materials in any hearings to back up its alleged need for funding. Asked why he wouldn’t make Energy Harbor provide such sworn testimony now, Seitz said the proposed regulatory audit would be “much better than any testimony at this point.”

“Pushing it off to a closed-door audit that won’t be made fully public is a convenient way for legislators to avoid public scrutiny and outrage at forking over Ohioans’ hard-earned money to bail out a company that doesn’t need it,” Leppla said.

“I can’t think why the legislature would not want this information,” Brown said. Indeed, an option approach would tell Energy Harbor that it could draw on a slush fund if it is too incompetent or too inefficient to compete. In his view, the whole approach is “beyond crony capitalism.”………

“What we do know,” Leppla said, “is that HB 6 was a widely disliked bill that will raise Ohioans’ bills, pollute our air, and send us backward in the fight against climate change — and yet, it passed anyway.”

January 7, 2021 - Posted by | politics, USA

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