By John Funk, The Plain Dealer
CLEVELAND, Ohio — Policy disputes about how electricity ought to be generated and the role of fossil fuels such as gas and oil on the economy are generating one kind of product to be sure — reports from economists and pollsters.
No fewer than two economic reports and one poll were released Thursday.
And at least one of them, a national poll released by the Young Conservatives for Clean Energy Reform and the Christian Coalition, was aimed at national policy makers and Congress, who normally receive a steady stream of reports from organizations such as the American Petroleum institute.
But what the poll found will be of interest to Ohio lawmakers as well: Political conservatives are embracing new technologies such as solar and wind, as well as energy efficiency technologies.
“For young conservatives, clean and efficient energy isn’t something fringe or futuristic. It’s a regular and growing part of their lives, and they want their elected leaders to support renewable energy in common-sense ways that grow the economy, promote energy independence and defend American families from pollution,” said Michele Combs, founder and chair of Young Conservatives for Clean Energy Reform, following a rally in Washington, D.C., co-hosted not only by the Christian Coalition but also by the American Wind Energy Association and the Solar Energy Industries Association and Citizens for Responsible Energy Solutions.
On the other side of the traditional political divide, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce released a national study with an Ohio-specific section on Thursday arguing that without oil and gas development since 2009, the U.S. and Ohio economy would have been far worse off.
“The ‘Keep it in the Ground’ movement completely ignores the vast benefits to Ohio and our nation’s economy that the energy renaissance has brought to us,” said Karen Harbert, president and CEO of the U.S. Chamber’s Institute for 21st Century Energy, in a prepared statement.
In the same release Zack Frymier, director of energy and environmental policy at the Ohio Chamber of Commerce, says, “Thankfully Ohio has been able to enjoy the benefits and positive economic impact that has come with oil and gas development related to the shale plays in our state. As the report points out, however, the continued, upward trajectory of this energy revolution is not a foregone conclusion. We urge policymakers at all levels not to enact policies that would jeopardize this continued growth.”
The Chamber assertions do not mention that the shale revolution in Ohio, which is primarily a natural gas play, has choked on its own success. Both oil and gas prices have plummeted because the new technologies have produced more resources than the economy currently needs.
In a report aimed squarely at Ohio’s lawmakers and policy makers, the Advanced Energy Economy Institute, a national organization, released a four-part economic model predicting future Ohio power prices.
The point of the study is to prove that by adopting laws and regulations to usher in renewable energy companies and by mandating utilities help their customers use less power, Ohio’s future electric rates would be much lower than if the state does nothing.
The new technology would also help Ohio comply with the still pending U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan, the report argues. The CPP would require states to lower carbon dioxide emissions of the power plants within their borders.