By Jenn Klein, Director, Energy & Environment
E&E Committee Meeting – Agenda and RSVP
The agenda for the February 14, 2011, Ohio Chamber Energy and Environment Committee meeting is now available. It is going to be a great meeting with a real opportunity to hear from one of our top statewide office holders, Attorney General DeWine, and new directors and staff within the administration. I know all the speakers are looking forward to the meeting and are really hoping to hear from you, so please come prepared to ask questions and to interact with them. The meeting will be at the Ohio Chamber offices (230 East Town St, Columbus, 43215) in the Ormet Conference room. Please RSVP for this committee meeting no later than noon on Friday, February 11. Finally, I will ask you to note the slight time change of the meeting which will now begin at 9:45 am to accommodate all of our speakers.
Ohio Chamber Coffee and Commerce
Start your day off right with the most important meal of the day, breakfast, at the Ohio Chamber of Commerce’s “Coffee and Commerce.” This informal breakfast provides an opportunity to talk with Ohio’s legislators about current public policy issues in an informal setting. No reservations are necessary, come anytime between 8:00 a.m. and 9:00 a.m. on Wednesday, February 2 at the Capital Club – Bistro Room (41 S. High St., 7th floor, Columbus). The cost is $20 per Ohio Chamber member.
Ohio Senate Announces Committee Chairs
This week, President Tom Niehaus announced the members of each of the standing Senate committees. Pres. Niehaus appointed Sen. Cliff Hite as Chair of the Agriculture & Environment & Natural Resources Committee. The Senate combined Agriculture and Natural Resources with the heretofore known as Environment Committee to make one committee. Sen. Dave Daniels was appointed Chair of the Energy & Public Utilities Committee and Sen. Tim Schaffer was appointed Chair of the Ways & Means & Economic Development Committee.
Can we Achieve 80% “Clean” Energy by 2035?
Well, according to the State of the Union Address delivered by President Obama this week that is exactly what he wants. To put that number into perspective, Ohio gets 77% of its energy from coal, 14.9% from nuclear, 7.2% from natural gas and 0.8% from renewable and hydroelectric according to the most recent US Department of Energy estimates. Ohio’s current renewable/advanced energy mandate requires that by 2025, 25% of the state’s energy be produced by renewable or advanced energy sources.
Now, the real debate becomes what constitutes “clean” energy. Pres. Obama said, "Some folks want wind and solar. Others want nuclear, clean coal and natural gas. To meet this goal, we will need them all – and I urge Democrats and Republicans to work together to make it happen." However, some take a much stauncher view on the word “clean” to only include traditional renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar. While others argue that there is still plenty of room for nuclear, coal and natural gas among many other energy sources. Regardless of the definition, many think the goal is still unattainable without government incentives OR mandatory regulations requiring change.
Boiler MACT Delay Request Granted – By One Month
In an unfortunate decision, a judge in the federal District Court for the District of Columbia extended by only 30 days US EPA’s deadline to issue emission standards for large and small boilers and solid waste and sewage sludge incinerators, otherwise known as the Boiler MACT rules. On December 7, US EPA filed a motion seeking a 15-month extension in the current court-ordered schedule for issuing the rules. In the filing, US EPA said the additional time was needed for the agency to re-propose the rules based on a full assessment of information received since the rules were proposed. While US EPA said they are disappointed by the decision they will finalize the rules by next month but said the standards will be significantly different than what they proposed in April 2010.
Request for Review of Legislation
As the new General Assembly gets to work, we are starting to see some bills introduced or are being asked to weigh in on draft legislation. Therefore, I am starting a new section in my weekly update that will include bills that may be of interest to you in your industry area. I will be seeking your input as to any positions we should take or if they are bills that we may simply want to keep an eye on. If you see any legislation that we may want to comment on or be following, please let me know that as well. Below are two bills (one introduced and one draft) that I would ask you to review and provide me any thoughts, feedback, comments, concerns etc.
Brownfield Tax Credit
House Bill 10 (Sears) authorizes a refundable tax credit for persons who remediate and return contaminated property to productive use. The bill had sponsor testimony last week and is scheduled for proponent testimony next Wednesday, February 2. I have been contacted by several members of the committee with questions regarding this legislation. I am reviewing the bill and would appreciate your thoughts on the legislation. Joe Koncelik (Frantz Ward) recently posted a story on his blog about this particular piece of legislation if you would like to get some additional thoughts.
Wastewater Affordability Draft Legislation
Over the last three decades, Ohio communities have spent billions of dollars to address sewer problems such as combined sewer overflows (CSO’s) and sanitary sewer overflows (SSO’s). It is anticipated that billions more will need to be spent to continue to bring communities into compliance with the Clean Water Act to address these situations. The Association of Ohio Metropolitan Wastewater Agencies (AOMWA) has been looking at ways for regulators and local officials to work together to yield the greatest benefit within each community’s financial capabilities.
The existing regulatory framework for assessment of community financial capabilities has not adequately recognized the economic challenges faced by local governments when trying to meet their enforcement obligations. AOMWA has been looking at ways that Ohio can achieve its water quality goals while taking into account economic challenges the community might be facing in complying with mandated changes to their water systems.
To that end, AOMWA is circulating draft legislation that will require Ohio EPA to consider, to the extent allowable under federal law, specified factors, such as economic constraints, before issuing permits for sewerage systems. The goal is to ensure that Ohio EPA looks at a community’s ability to pay for overhauling their water system when developing the plan. AOMWA has asked the Ohio Chamber to support the draft legislation. I am asking all of you to please review the legislation and provide me feedback with any thoughts or concerns that you might have with the draft t or with the Ohio Chamber supporting the legislation.