Gov. Kasich Delivers First State of the State
This week, Gov. Kasich delivered his first State of the State address. The governor used the speech to enumerate the challenges Ohio faces, recount his legislative victories, and outline his agenda. Citing dire statistics on job losses and population decline, Gov. Kasich reiterated his commitment to not raise taxes while also recognizing that budget cuts alone cannot bring prosperity. Gov. Kasich provided a blueprint of his agenda, including improvements to long-term care for Ohio seniors, education reform, local government relief, sentencing reform, human services innovation and economic development progress.
In a promising sign of things to come, many of the governor’s agenda items reflect recommendations made in the Redesigning Ohio report produced by Ohio’s eight metro chambers of commerce and the Ohio Chamber. Further, aspects of the agenda represent planks of the Chamber’s Campaign for Jobs.
Gov. Kasich Set to Release Budget Next Week
Gov. John Kasich will deliver his eagerly awaited two-year budget to the members of the Ohio General Assembly on Tuesday, March 15. As he indicated in his state of the state speech this week, the proposed budget must fill an $8 billion shortfall caused by the use of federal stimulus and other one-time revenue to balance the current budget.
The governor’s first budget is expected to significantly reduce state spending while holding true to his commitment to not raise taxes. It will also include many innovative policies aimed at transforming the way state and local governments operate and improving the state’s economy.
In a very unusual move, Gov. Kasich scheduled a town hall meeting on the budget for Tuesday evening. It will be held at 6:00 p.m. in the Capitol Theatre at the Riffe Center in downtown Columbus. Gov. Kasich, Lt. Gov. Taylor and members of the governor’s cabinet will be in attendance to describe the budget and answer questions from the audience. In announcing this unique way of involving the public in his budget roll-out, Gov. Kasich said he intends to answer questions “for as long as I can until they start to turn out the lights on me.”
Governor Kasich’s budget town hall meeting is free and open to the public. However, attendees must obtain a ticket to be admitted. Tickets were made available on a first-come, first-serve basis online.
New ERAC Commissioner Appointed
Gov. Kasich recently appointed Shaun K. Petersen to the Environmental Review Appeals Commission (ERAC), for a term beginning March 7, 2011 and ending October 22, 2016.
Legislative Hearings Scheduled for Next Week
SB 108 (Oil and Gas Drilling on State Lands) – Creates the Oil and Gas Leasing Board and establishes procedures by which the Board may enter into leases for oil and gas production on state owned lands.
Position: Not established, bill under review
- Sponsor testimony scheduled for Tues., March 15
HB 82 (Small Motor Carrier Rules) – Makes changes to federal regulations that were adopted by the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio to certain motor vehicles.
- Proponent testimony scheduled for Wed., March 16
HB 95 (Gas Rates) – Permits certain rate-calculation adjustments for natural gas companies, eliminates public notice requirements for rate cases and, for natural gas companies, makes regulatory changes concerning audits, alternative rate plans, and forecast reports, and allows applications for natural gas company capital expenditure programs.
- All testimony, consideration of amendments and possible substitute bill scheduled for Wed., March 16
HB 112 (Antifreeze Bittering Agent) – Requires the inclusion of a bittering agent in engine coolant and antifreeze.
Position: Interested Party
- All testimony scheduled for Wed., March 16
SCR 4 (USEC Federal Loan) – Urges the President to approve USEC's application for a federal loan to ensure the continuation of the uranium enrichment work being developed in Piketon, Ohio.
- Sponsor testimony scheduled for Wed., March 16
Ohio EPA Revising TRI Rules
On March 9, Ohio EPA released revised rules for the Toxic Chemical Release Reporting (TRI) requirements as required by the 5-year review. These rules are related to the Toxic Release Inventory Program reporting requirements. Ohio EPA believes changes are necessary to bring the rules in line with federal requirements, to correct minor typographical errors, to fulfill the formatting requirements of the Legislative Services commission and to add and update citation information on materials referenced in these rules. Ohio EPA is accepting comments on the draft language through Friday, April 8, 2011.
Ohio EPA Revising PTI Rules for Oil and Gas Exploration Activities
On March 10, Ohio EPA released draft revisions to the permit to install applicability rule. Ohio EPA is soliciting comments on the draft rule addressing the applicability and procedures for permit to install (PTI) rules in Chapter 3745-42. According to Ohio EPA the revisions to the rule are being considered to eliminate redundant state permit requirements for the temporary storage structures associated with oil and gas exploration activities. These structures are also currently regulated under Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Division of Mineral Resources Management. The comment deadline for this rule is April 11, 2011.
Ohio EPA Finalizes Water Quality Standards and NPDES Rules
On March 7, Ohio EPA adopted final revisions to the implementation of water quality standards and NPDES permitting rules. Ohio EPA conducted a review of Chapters 3745-2 and 3745-33 of the Administrative Code, governing the technical process for converting Ohio water quality standards to wasteload allocations that can be used as wastewater permit limits and the administrative and technical requirements for writing and obtaining NPDES permits. As part of this review, revisions to rule 3745-1-06 were also necessary.
US EPA Updates eGrid
On March 8, US EPA updated the Emissions and Generation Integrated Resource Database (eGRID) and Power Profiler. The database now includes data from 2007. eGRID is a database of emissions from electric power generated in the United States. Power Profiler is an online application that uses eGRID data to show air emissions information and the type of electricity generation, such as coal or nuclear, in various regions of the country.
US EPA Updates National Air Toxics Assessment
On March 11, US EPA released the fourth update of a computer tool reviews exposure to air toxics. The assessment shows that the states and industry are continuing to make progress to reduce air toxic emissions. Between 1990 and 2005, air toxic emissions were reduced by about 42 percent from industrial and mobile sources. The National Air Toxics Assessment (NATA) contains 2005 emissions data submitted primarily from the states for 178 pollutants.
NATA is used to identify which geographic areas, pollutants and types of emission sources might need closer investigation to more fully characterize potential risks and determine if additional actions are necessary. US EPA also uses the assessment to work with communities to design their own local assessment, improve the agency’s emissions inventories and identify priorities for expanding the air toxics monitoring network. According to US EPA, once risks are fully characterized, state air agencies can decide if steps should be taken to reduce air toxics emissions.
US Chamber Releases Study Identifying Stalled Energy Projects
As part of its Project No Project initiative, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce released an economic study identifying 351 stalled energy projects nationwide that in aggregate are costing the American economy $1.1 trillion in GDP and 1.9 million jobs a year that could be created during the construction phase of these projects alone.
The study, Project Denied: The Potential Economic Impact of Permitting Challenges Facing Proposed Energy Projects, was conducted by Steve Pociask, President of the American Consumer Institute, and Joseph Fuhr, Professor of Economics at Widener University and Senior Fellow at the American Consumer Institute. The study estimates the potential loss of investment and jobs in the 351 proposed renewable, coal, natural gas, nuclear, and transmission projects in 49 states that have been delayed or cancelled due to “Not in My Back Yard” (NIMBY) activism, a broken permitting process, and a system that allows for limitless lawsuits by opponents. The study features a state-by-state analysis that details the economic output and jobs that could be created by acting on these stagnant projects.
Among the notable findings of the study is the fact that almost half of the projects identified in the study are renewable energy projects. Other highlights include:
- Investment Phase – Planning and construction of the study’s projects would generate $577 billion in direct investment and would result in an approximately $1.1 trillion increase in U.S. Gross Domestic Product (GDP). An estimated 1.9 million jobs would be required during each year of construction.
- Operations Phase – Operation of the study’s projects would generate $99 billion in direct annual output and would yield $145 billion in increased GDP annually. An estimated average of 791,200 jobs would be created per year of operation.
- Total Benefits – If constructed and operated for twenty years, the study estimates a total benefit of $3.4 trillion in GDP, including $1.4 trillion in employment earnings and an additional one million jobs per year.
New Robot System to Test Chemicals for Toxicity
On March 10, several federal agencies unveiled a new high-speed robot screening system that will test 10,000 different chemicals for potential toxicity. The system marks the beginning of a new phase of an ongoing collaboration, referred to as Tox21. The robot system, which is located at the National Institutes of Health Chemical Genomics Center (NCGC), was purchased as part of the Tox21 collaboration established in 2008 between US EPA, the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences National Toxicology Program, and NCGC, with the addition of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2010.
The 10,000 chemicals the robot system will screen include chemicals found in industrial and consumer products, food additives and drugs. Tox21 has already screened more than 2,500 chemicals using robots and other chemical screening technologies. US EPA contributes to Tox21 through the ToxCast program.
DOE Energy Management Toolkit
The U.S. Department of Energy's Industrial Technologies Program (ITP) is currently in the process of developing the Energy Management Toolkit. The Energy Management Toolkit is scheduled for release in late April 2011.
The forthcoming toolkit is a free integrated tool suite with two major components-technology solutions and an energy management portfolio. The technology solutions portion of the toolkit will comprise the plant-wide and system-specific software tools that are currently offered by ITP to help energy managers assess energy use and identify savings opportunities within their facilities. From the Quick Plant Energy Profiler to MotorMaster+, all of the tools needed to improve energy management at industrial facilities will now be available in one central location.
New to ITP's software repository, the toolkit will feature the Energy Management System Implementation Self-Paced Module, a baseline energy management plan to help energy managers set timelines and develop strategies for meeting energy efficiency goals in their facilities. Because the tool is self-paced, it can be easily adapted to the needs and energy reduction goals of any user's facility. Additionally, the energy management tool also provides plant managers with tips to help get employees engaged in efficiency measures, as well as pointers to assist in overcoming other roadblocks along the way to implementation.
U.S. Agencies Launch i6 Green Challenge
The U.S. Commerce Department’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) and its Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship announced the opening of its $12 million i6 Green Challenge in partnership with the U.S. departments of Agriculture and Energy, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the National Science Foundation, and Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology and U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. The deadline to submit an application is May 26, 2011.
EDA will award up to $1 million to each of six teams around the country with the most innovative ideas to drive technology commercialization and entrepreneurship in support of a green innovation economy, increased U.S. competitiveness and new jobs. Its partner agencies will award more than $6 million in additional funding to i6 Green winners.
First announced at the White House launch of Startup America in January, i6 Green follows last year’s inaugural i6 Challenge to accelerate high-growth entrepreneurship in the United States. This year’s competition focuses on promoting Proof of Concept Centers, which supports all aspects of the entrepreneurship process, from assisting with technology feasibility and business plan development, to providing access to early-stage capital and mentors to offer critical guidance to innovators. Centers allow emerging technologies to mature and demonstrate their market potential, making them more attractive to investors and helping entrepreneurs turn their idea or technology into a business.
US EPA joined the i6 Challenge this year to support the development of technology geared toward protecting human health and the environment. US EPA funding will be targeted to technology that has a high priority in those areas such as improving energy efficiency in water treatment, renewable energy from wastewater sludge and animal waste, and recycling of e-waste. Funding will also broadly support actions to commercialize environmental technologies.