Welcome to the first 2017 edition of ClimateEye (brought to you from Hawaii Volcanoes National Park).
This week’s must read: Why Climate Change Should Matter to You
This week’s other must read: The Republicans Who Want Trump to Fight Climate Change
This week’s must listen: Republican Holds Out Hope
And if you are still with us in the waning days of 2016, Ohio Gov. John Kasich vetoed legislation that would have extended for two years a freeze on the state’s clean energy standard. Citing a need to take advantage of the “wide range of energy generation options” in Ohio, Kasich pointed to the “most prized” job creation opportunities in clean energy development in the state and said extending the freeze would amount to “self-inflicted damage to both our state’s near- and long-term economic competitiveness.” Under the 2008 standard, investor-owned utilities must obtain 25 percent of their energy from advanced energy sources by 2025, with half the energy coming from renewable sources. In 2014, a three-year freeze was enacted.
The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR), controlled by Gov. Scott Walker, scrubbed from its website language that says climate change is caused by human activity and greenhouse gases, replacing it with text calling climate change a matter of of scientific debate. The website for the agency now reads that “as it has done throughout the centuries, the earth is going through a change. The reasons for this change at this particular time in the earth’s long history are being debated and researched by academic entities outside the Department of Natural Resources.” Previously, the site attributed climate change to increases in carbon dioxide emissions and described expected impacts of warming on the Great Lakes. When running for president, Walker mocked the threat climate poses to national security and dubbed the EPA’s Clean Power Plan the “Costly Power Plan.”
As 2016 drew to a close, another Republican governor helped ensure his state’s clean energy future. While Ohio’s Gov. John Kasich fought back an attempt to freeze clean energy in his state, in neighboring Michigan, Gov. Rick Snyder ensured final passage of major energy reforms before the clock ran out on the session. In an interview with Midwest Energy News, Snyder reflected on the bill and the future of energy in Michigan. “I think we’ve taken a really great approach in Michigan” he said. “The real priorities that came of this were: How do we really set up a framework for success and make it adaptable, because there are things we don’t know into the future. What we do know is that we have all of these aging coal plants that should be retired, both from a cost and an environmental perspective. And looking ahead, we know we need cleaner sources of energy and that are affordable and reliable.” Snyder said the ultimate goal is to “let the market work” and in the end, the bill “set ranges to say we wanted much more clean energy and we want to let some balance happen between natural gas and renewables.”
“This was one of the finest illustrations of good, bipartisan and broad-based work I’ve seen in my time as governor,” he said.
Our resolution for 2017 is to uncover all the ecoright stories of courageous climate action. What’s your goal for the year?