Ohio Farmers Union President Joe Logan today released a letter he has emailed and posted to Gov. John Kasich regarding S.B. 310 which would freeze Ohio’s renewable energy and energy efficiency mandates.
The Ohio Farmers Union has passed a “Special Order of Business” in at least the last three conventions calling on Ohio’s elected leaders in Columbus to preserve landmark, bipartisan legislation passed in 2008 which established energy efficiency and renewable energy mandates for Ohio’s public electrical utilities. Known as “25 by 2025” the 2008 law put utilities on a path toward ensuring that at least 25% of the power they sell in Ohio comes from renewable energy resources.
Despite the fact that the the evidence shows job creation, a reduction in air pollution and even an increase in Payments in Lieu of Taxes in areas where renewable energy projects are creating new businesses and jobs, a minority of well-connected Ohio business and political interests have sought to roll back the mandates on primarily ideological and narrow economic ground.
Here are just a few facts that came out over the course of testimony on S.B. 310:
- Ohio’s four major utilities have spent $456 million on energy efficiency programs – but saved themselves and ratepayers just over $1 billion from 2009 through 2012.
- AEP Spent: $158 million; Saved: $377 million
- Dayton Power & Light Spent: $49 million; Saved: $154 million
- Duke Spent: $90 million; Saved: $197 million
- FirstEnergy Spent: $159 million; Saved: $317 million
- The numbers above come from the utilities themselves!
- Ohio’s air has been cleaner due to the renewable energy and energy efficiency mandates:
- Annually, over 9,000 tons of the smog-forming pollutant Nitrogen Oxide has been removed from our air
- Annually, over 40,000 tons of Sulfur Dioxide – a pollutant linked to asthma and other respiratory problems – has been removed from our air
- Annually, 1,000 tons of mercury is prevented from entering our air due to the mandates
Call Governor Kasich office today at (614) 466-3555. Give the receptionist your name and hometown and tell them you’re calling to urge the governor to VETO S.B. 310. Tell them you’re concerned about going backwards on air pollution and creating a more diversified energy economy. If you are involved in the renewable energy economy either on your own farm or in an off-farm career, let them know.
The governor is expected to sign S.B. 310, but I can tell you from experience working for members of Congress and former Gov. Strickland that these calls matter. Sometimes they even change minds.
Finally, send this email to your non-OFU friends and contacts. This bill really is a step backward for Ohio and serves only the interests of a very (politically connected) few.
Each year in late January, the Ohio Farmers Union holds its annual convention and outlines its main policy priorities for the coming year. These priorities are debated in OFU’s policy committee and by all delegates on the floor of the convention. This past weekend the 80th Annual Ohio Farmers Union Convention was held in Columbus. Here are OFU’s Special Orders of Business for 2014.
Special Orders of Business
Ohio Farmers Union
As Passed by the 80th Annual Convention, Columbus, Ohio
Shale Gas Exploration & Production in Rural Ohio
The extraction of oil and natural gas from shale formations such as the Marcellus and Utica formations presents enormously complex technical challenges, consumes large volumes of fresh water and requires the use of a wide array of hazardous chemicals. Farmers Union urges caution in the development of such fossil fuel resources, as doing so will slow our progress toward renewable fuels and accelerate climate change.
OFU proposes the following policy recommendations in order to protect Ohio’s farmland, water and air from contamination associated with the drilling or hydraulic fracturing of production wells or from contamination associated with waste disposal of hazardous by-products from the process:
What follows will be the full press release from U.S. EPA on the proposed 2014 Renewable Fuel Standard. The 2014 proposal essentially calls for a reduction in the renewable fuel requirement. Roger Johnson, president of the National Farmers Union said last week, “Lowering renewable fuel targets below that which can be produced and below what is already being produced will sink corn prices, kill jobs and damage rural economies.” Read his entire statement here.
First, here are a couple of documents from EPA’s website on renewable fuels regulations:
EPA Press Release:
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today proposed for public comment the levels of renewable fuels to be blended into gasoline and diesel as required by Congress under the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. Developed with input from the U.S. Department of Energy and U.S. Department of Agriculture, the proposal seeks public input on annual volume requirements for renewable fuels in all motor vehicle gasoline and diesel produced or imported by the United States in 2014. The proposal seeks to put the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program on a steady path forward – ensuring the continued long-term growth of the renewable fuel industry – while seeking input on different approaches to address the “E10 blend wall.”
from the National Farmers Union
National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson issued the following statement regarding the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) 2014 Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) requirements:
“We are deeply disappointed in EPA’s apparent willingness to reduce total renewable fuel requirements based on the oil industry’s fictitious ‘blend wall’ argument. Big oil has determined that biofuels are taking their market share, so they have prevented increased amounts of biofuel to be sold at gas stations.
“At a time when advanced and cellulosic biofuel plants are just starting to come online, the EPA is sending a negative signal which will stifle investment in this nascent industry.
“Lowering renewable fuel targets below that which can be produced and below what is already being produced will sink corn prices, kill jobs and damage rural economies.
“The administration needs to stay true to its word that it will tackle climate change. The RFS is America’s only real climate change policy, and biofuels reduce greenhouse gas emissions by over 30 percent compared to regular gasoline.
“We look forward to commenting on the proposed targets and EPA’s flawed methodology so that we can continue to support the biofuels industry.”
The Associated Press has come out with a few stories and data for infographics that you may have seen in your local newspaper or online in the past few days. The stories questions whether or not ethanol production in the U.S. and its effects on agricultural production of corn are having negative consequences in other environmental areas.
What follows is the official reaction from the National Farmers Union. If you’d like to see what AP produced in its reporting for yourself, check out this PDF file I’ve put together of what stories I could capture online. The Associated Press is essentially a member-based news organization – its members are the media outlets which subscribe to its stories – and in some cases your local paper or favorite online source may not have chosen to run any or all of these stories. (They may also not be a member of the AP)
WASHINGTON (Nov. 12, 2013) – National Farmers Union (NFU) President Roger Johnson issued the following statement in response to a recent story by the Associated Press that blames biofuels for causing environmental harm:
“The story blames biofuels for the reduced acres in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP). What it neglects to mention is that Congress reduced CRP by roughly seven million acres in the 2008 Farm Bill and is poised to be reduced by seven to eight million acres in the next farm bill.
“In addition, climate change and new seed varieties are mostly responsible for the expansion of corn production, with warmer temperatures and longer growing seasons making it possible to plant corn in places like North Dakota and Canada.
“American-produced biofuels are a clear and environmentally-friendly alternative to oil. Today’s ethanol reduces greenhouse gas emissions by more than 30 percent compared to gasoline.
“NFU will continue stand up for the Renewable Fuel Standard that is cleaning up the environment, diversifying fuel sources and supporting rural economies.”
National Farmers Union submitted comments to the Environmental Protection Agency last week supporting the EPA’s proposed volumes for cellulosic, advanced and other renewable fuels. Under section 211(o) of the Clean Air Act, the EPA is required to set the renewable fuel standards each November for the following year.
“NFU strongly believes that the United States should make the development of renewable sources of energy our number one priority in reducing dependence on fossil fuels,” said NFU President Roger Johnson in the comments. “As part of this we encourage EPA to incentivize the renewable fuels industry and American agriculture by creating ambitious targets for renewable energy production.”
NFU agreed that cellulosic and other advanced biofuels hold tremendous promise for farmers in providing a buffer for large fluctuations in commodity prices by diversifying the rural economy.
“The Department of Energy found that the United State produces 1.2. billion tons of agricultural and forest waste annual. This is enough feedstock to produce about 85 billion gallons of biofuels, or enough to replace 30 percent of America’s annual petroleum consumption,” Johnson wrote.
In 2012, the biofuels industry supported more than 400,000 jobs and generated a $500 billion increase in communities’ farm assets around the country and $42 billion in economic activity.
WASHINGTON – National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson sent a letter today to leadership of the U.S. House of Representatives expressing concern regarding the Strategic Energy Production Act of 2012.
“NFU members are concerned that the Strategic Energy Production Act of 2012 calls for a plan to increase domestic petroleum and natural gas upon drawdown of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SRP),” said Johnson. “We view this as a means to discourage use of the SPR for its intended purposes. We instead support continued development of renewable energy as our main priority in reducing our dependence on fossil fuels. Domestically produced renewable fuels are good not only for farmers, but also for consumers. For example, ethanol produced by American farmers and ranchers already saves consumers nearly $1 per gallon.”
In the letter, Johnson also supported amendment #15 by Rep. Ed Markey, D-Mass., and amendment #26 by Reps. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., Markey and Barney Frank, D-Mass.
“Amendment #15 would prohibit oil and gas produced under new leases authorized by this legislation from being exported to foreign countries,” said Johnson. “Amendment #26 would require certain funds received from the sale of new leases to be made available to fully fund the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) to limit speculation in energy markets. As the agency that has been tasked with increased authority over agricultural, energy and financial markets as part of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, the CFTC needs significantly greater resources in order to help guard against economic crisis.”
Ohio Senators: Brown, a ‘yea,’ Portman, a ‘nay’
NFU supportive, process moves to a dysfunctional House
The 2012 version of the Farm Bill which delivers $23 billion in deficit reduction and moves the agricultural safety net away from direct payments and toward a beefed up crop insurance program as two of its major features passed the U.S. Senate today by a vote of 64-35.
Sen. Sherrod Brown, (D-OH), voted for the measure. Sen. Rob Portman, (R-OH), voted against the bill.
“The bipartisan, Senate-passed farm bill is the most significant reform of U.S. agriculture in decades – saving taxpayers $23 billion while investing in Ohio’s number one industry,” Brown said.
“This farm bill is forward thinking, yet realistic. The centerpiece of the bill’s deficit reduction efforts is based on a bill I authored with my colleague, Sen. (John) Thune, (R-SD) that would end the era of paying farmers for crops that they don’t grow and replace direct payments with market-based supports that’s more responsive to farmers and taxpayers. This farm bill is a jobs and innovation bill, an economic relief and development bill, and it affects every American every day,” added Brown, the first Ohioan to serve on the Senate Agriculture Committee in 40 years.
The National Farmers Union issued two statements today – one urging passage of the bill and one congratulating senators on the achievement after its passage. NFU President Roger Johnson said he’s pleased with many of the provisions in the Senate bill such as mandatory funding for renewable energy programs. Although supportive of the bill’s move away from direct payments to support agriculture in the U.S., Johnson remains concerned about long-term price declines.
This is a column from USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack provided by the agency.
By Secretary Tom Vilsack
Since taking office, President Obama has been committed to an all-of-the-above approach that expands production of American energy resources. Already, there are signs that this strategy is making an impact. Last year, domestic oil production reached the highest level in nearly a decade. Imports of foreign oil fell to the lowest level in 16 years. We’re producing more natural gas than at any time in our history. Since 2008, renewable energy generation from sources like wind, solar, and geothermal has nearly doubled. And the Obama Administration has supported the first nuclear power plant in thirty years.
Strengthening the domestic biofuels industry has been another critical component of this overall strategy. And today, U.S. biofuel production is at its highest level in history. In fact, average monthly production increased more than 40 percent between 2008 and 2011. That means more jobs – especially in rural America – and greater energy security.
At USDA, we continue to support cutting-edge efforts to reduce America’s reliance on fossil fuel. For example, earlier this month, USDA announced approval of a $5 million payment to Western Plains Energy, LLC to support the construction of a biogas anaerobic digester in Oakley, KS. The completed project will utilize waste energy resources from a local cattle feedlot to replace almost 90 percent of the fossil fuels currently used by Western Plains Energy. In Blairstown, Iowa, USDA funding will be used to construct a 55,000 square foot facility that will produce cellulosic ethanol by converting municipal solid waste and other industrial pulps into advanced biofuels, as well as using conventional renewable biofuel derived from seed corn waste. When operational, the facility is expected to produce approximately 3.6 million gallons of cellulosic ethanol per year. Support for renewable energy projects such as these is an example of the many ways USDA is helping revitalize rural economies.