The Ohio Energy Mandates Study Committee has until the end of the month to issue a report on the state’s frozen energy efficiency and renewable energy requirements. The report, due to the Ohio House and Senate, was mandated by legislation signed into law by Governor John Kasich in June 2014. Legislators will then have until the end of the year to decide what policy to implement; but if they do nothing, the efficiency and renewable standards will unfreeze.
American Legislative Exchange Council-member Senator Bill Seitz recently said, “We’re not prepared to continue our march up State Mandate Mountain in the face of this federal overreach which will be unfolding over the next three years.” Sen. Seitz also said that voluntary incentives could be one of the recommendations from the committee.
The Energy & Policy Institute filed public record requests with several of the committee members, including Sen. Seitz, to understand what lobbying firms, utility industry representatives, and front groups have been working to influence the committee. But, it’s important to review how the situation unfolded especially in light of public records from 2014 that have never been published.
Timeline of events show the repeated effort by Ohio ALEC members to end the state’s renewable energy and energy efficiency law:
2012: The Heartland Institute joined with the American Legislative Exchange Council to write model legislation aimed at repealing renewable energy standards across the country. ALEC’s board of directors adopted the Electricity Freedom Act in October.
2012: Sen. Jordan introduced SB 221 to repeal the renewable energy and efficiency standard.
2013: Sen. Jordan introduced SB 34 that again would have completely repealed the requirements. The bill never made it out of committee.
March 2013: Sen. Seitz made headlines when he said the state standards remind him of “Joseph Stalin’s five-year plan.” Months later, Sen. Seitz introduced substitute SB 58, which would limit how much utilities can spend on energy efficiency programs while eliminating the requirements for in-state renewable energy targets.
December 2013: Sen. Seitz canceled a possible committee vote. When asked if he’d scrap the bill, Seitz said, “We’ve just begun to fight.”
February 2014: Sen. Seitz reintroduced SB 58 and insisted that Advanced Energy Economy made inaccurate economic projections about the state’s requirements during hearings in 2013. Sen. Seitz pointed to Jonathan Lesser, president of Continental Economics, Inc., and his report’s conclusions that the law imposes high costs on consumers with negligible benefits. The Ohio Chamber of Commerce, the National Federation of Independent Business-Ohio and Industrial Energy Users-Ohio funded the report.
March 2014: Senator Troy Balderson introduced SB 310, and then Seitz cosponsored the legislation. Two months later, the Ohio legislature passed SB 310 that froze the state’s renewable energy and efficiency requirements for two years. Gov. Kasich, former ALEC member who received more than $200,000 in campaign contributions from utility, coal, and oil and gas companies over the last two election cycles, signed the legislation in June.
According to an internal ALEC tracking document obtained by the Center for Media and Democracy, 31 bills relating to the ALEC Electricity Freedom Act were introduced in 2014, with ALEC scoring its first success in Ohio as it voted to freeze its state mandate.
We will continue to track the Ohio Energy Mandates Study Committee as the process continues this fall.
The fossil fuel-funded American Energy Alliance wrote a coalition letter signed by 20 organizations to Congress claiming widespread support for “The PTC Elimination Act” which would cut subsidies for wind energy production. The letter uses misinformation to claim that wind energy is bad for the economy and is more expensive than traditional fossil fuel energy production. Wind energy power purchase agreements continue to break records as the cost of clean energy has plummeted over the past few years. The price of wind is down more than 50% since 2009 and contracted ind prices hit an all-time low in 2014 of ~2.35 cents per kWh.
- 18 of the signatories signed a similar letter written by the Koch-funded Americans for Prosperity in June 2014 (counting Independent Women’s Forum & Voice as one affiliated organization).
- 14 have ties to fossil fuel funders and 18 have ties to the Koch Brothers’ political network with some organizations receiving funding directly from the Kochs and others receiving funding from the "dark money ATM" Donors Trust/Donors Capital Fund or other front groups like the "Center to Protect Patients Rights”.
Charles Koch Distorts the Facts: Here Are The Ways His Money & Political Network Prevent Clean Energy Businesses From Succeeding
Earlier this week, President Obama correctly singled out the Koch brothers – Charles and David – and the Koch-funded network for standing in the way of America’s clean energy future. Charles Koch responded saying he was “flabbergasted” after hearing Obama’s remark. He continued, “We are not trying to prevent new clean energy businesses from succeeding.” This statement is, at best, highly misleading.
Charles Koch states that he believes government should be smaller and it should not subsidize businesses, including any form of energy business. But while he acknowledges that the fossil fuel businesses he owns benefit tremendously from government subsidies, he doesn't refuse those benefits or do anything to stop those policy choices. Meanwhile, the Kochs use their political influence and funding for efforts to repeal laws designed to support the deployment of more renewable electricity. Specifically, their political network’s agenda includes weakening renewable energy standards, preventing customers from installing solar panels (by charging fees on people that go solar), and protecting the government monopolized electric utilities.
The facts are indisputable.
Critics of President Barack Obama’s landmark regulation to reduce carbon dioxide emissions almost always highlight a series of flawed studies (which are often paid for by utility or fossil fuel interests) to attack the Clean Power Plan.
Many of these flawed, industry-backed reports analyzed the EPA’s draft rules or a broad idea of regulating existing emissions, instead of the EPA’s final (and official) draft regulations. Some studies admit they did not study the actual EPA regulations, other studies inflate the costs of regulation, and some ignore the health and/or the economic benefits associated with reducing the level of pollution emissions. Furthermore, these error-filled reports are already outdated since the final version of the Clean Power Plan changes how state targets are calculated, eliminates assumptions related to energy efficiency, pushes back the interim compliance date to 2022, provides incentives for renewable energy deployment, just to name a few of the changes from the draft.
This Energy & Policy Institute briefing outlines the studies frequently used by pundits and special interests to attack the Clean Power Plan, details who has been paid or consulted in the production of these reports, and exposes the front groups involved in circulating the following reports:
Lawyers from coal-dependent states, led by West Virginia, are challenging President Obama’s Clean Power Plan. Joining their effort is an army of industry-funded law firms that specialize in fighting the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Together, they will argue that the EPA does not have any authority under Section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act to issue the carbon regulations; they will also contest the legality of the “fence line” used to set state emission targets. Yet, buried in coverage of the litigation is the fact that the coalition suing the EPA is connected to some of the largest electric utility companies in the country – and many have purposefully kept themselves at arms’ length so that their customers never know they are funding lawyers who are working to stop one of President Obama’s main pillars to fight climate change. Policymakers, regulators, and customers should know what electricity companies are secretly working together with coal companies to sue the EPA.
Below is a network map built using the LittleSis free database. It details connections between powerful people and organizations; the data is derived from government filings, news articles, and other reputable sources. This map illustrates the links between the handful of lawyers involved in the litigation against the Clean Power Plan and the companies paying their firms.
The National Mining Association (NMA), shown in the middle of the LittleSis network map, filed a stay with the EPA to stop the plan from going into effect earlier this month. This is in addition to a stay filed on August 5 by the coal-dependent states that has recently resulted in the attorneys general filing an emergency petition in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit asking for federal judges to postpone the rule’s deadlines.
NMA was represented by Troutman Sanders in Michigan et al. vs. EPA, which was the case decided in June regarding the mercury and air toxics standard (MATS). NMA is also a member in the Utility Air Regulatory Group (UARG), run by attorneys at Hunton & Williams. Clicking on NMA in the network map will highlight the connections and reveal the manner in which the trade association is linked to the companies and/or lawyers.
After the Clean Power Plan was released, The New York Times reported that Peter Glaser, an attorney at Troutman Sanders, has been holding meetings with Roger Martella Jr. of Sidley Austin to devise the legal strategy to throw out EPA’s regulation via the courts. Additionally, the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity (ACCCE), another trade association that is also a member of the Utility Air Regulatory Group and includes Southern Company as a member, said, “It’s illegal and we will not stop opposing it until it is withdrawn completely.” ACCCE is shown above NMA in the network map and is linked to other companies besides Southern.
And, the Electric Reliability Coordinating Council, a group of power and coal companies run out of Bracewell & Giuliani that also pays Hunton & Williams, said the that final plan still intrudes into state affairs and that it contains issues that could expose it to significant legal challenges.