Ohio governor vetoes bill making renewable mandates optional


COLUMBUS — Ohio Gov. John Kasich on Tuesday vetoed three legislative measures, including a bill that would have made compliance with the state’s renewable energy mandates optional for the next three years.

The Republican governor’s action on the energy measure will resume benchmarks established in 2008 that were gradually increasing electric utilities’ use of alternative energy sources such as wind and solar power. The 2008 standards also require utilities to find measurable ways for consumers to reduce their energy use.

Kasich in his veto message said the bill was a threat to the state’s improved business climate, which he said has been helped by the wide range of energy generation options prized by job-creating companies.

“The bill would also deal a setback to efforts that are succeeding in helping businesses and homeowners reduce their energy costs through increased efficiency,” he wrote.

Kasich also vetoed a budget line item that would have expanded a tangible property tax exemption for Ohio’s oil-and-gas industry and a bill expanding legislators’ power to abolish state agencies and departments.

Kasich’s fellow Republicans in the Legislature sent him the energy bill during their lame duck session as a two-year freeze of the mandates was set to expire. Legislation establishing the freeze required lawmakers to act by year’s end or see mandates continue.

Sen. Bill Seitz, a Cincinnati Republican, had said the extra three years are needed to allow time for federal regulations to be sorted out. More than half of U.S. states have challenged implementation of the federal Clean Power Plan in an ongoing legal battle.

The legislators could reconvene to try to override Kasich, but Seitz indicated in a statement that he expects “a full scale effort” to repeal renewable energy mandates in the next legislative session. He said he’s also hopeful that President-elect Donald Trump’s administration will “save us” from regulatory overreach.

“It is apparent that Gov. Kasich cares more about appeasing his coastal elite friends in the renewable energy business than he does about the millions of Ohioans who decisively rejected this ideology when they voted for President-elect Trump,” Seitz said.

Renewable-energy companies and environmental advocates backed the veto, calling the optional mandates just a freeze in another form.

The Environmental Defense Fund said Kasich was standing up for a cleaner and healthier energy future.

“Ohioans should cheer — it may be winter, but the clean energy freeze has finally thawed,” Dick Munson, the group’s Midwest Clean Energy director, said in a statement.

By Julie Carr Smyth

and Dan Sewell

Associated Press

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