Category Archives: Political Action

Sierra Club Ohio signs on to S.B. 36 letter

The Sierra Club Ohio Chapter along with partner organizations, Ohio Environmental Council, Arc of Appalachia Preserve System, Flora-Quest, Western Reserve Land Conservancy, North Central Ohio Land Conservancy and Rail to Trails Conservancy have signed a letter to Senator John Ecklund in support of Ohio S.B. 36. Sen. Ecklund is the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means in Columbus Ohio.

S.B. 36 allows farmers who use some of their land for conservation practices or who enroll some of their land in a conservation program to enjoy the lowest possible CAUV (Current Agricultural Use Value) tax rates for their land. This is especially important now with the tax increases many farmers are experiencing.  Moreover, this bill is strengthening voluntary measures that combat harmful algae blooms on Ohio beaches and algae blooms threatening drinking water. S.B. 36 gives Ohio farmers incentives to create riparian buffers, filter strips, and field borders. This bill helps farmers manage soil erosion and water quality issues.

The letter referred to herein is dated March 7, 2017. The bill is sponsored by Ohio Senator Cliff Hite (R-01).

Scott Bushbaum – Sierra Club Miami Group – Executive Committee

DP&L’s Six Year Settlement to End Ownership of Coal Generation Power in Ohio

According to North American Clean Energy, The Dayton Power and Light Co, a subsidiary of the AES Corporation and the Sierra Club along with a list of parties who agree in principle to a six year settlement. This agreement will strengthen DP&L’s infrastructure, end it’s ownership of 2,093 megawatts of coal fired generation power and begin more integrated renewable generation.

DP&L has asked for an extension of the February 8, 2017 hearing date to allow more time for parties not joining the settlement, including the PUCO staff, to file testimony. The final decision on the matter is expected on March 31, 2017. If the PUCO agrees to the settlement,  the average DP&L customer can expect a rate increase of $2.39 per month.

This settlement includes a five year Distribution Infrastructure Rider (DIR) that enables the implementation of a smart grid and advanced metering. A Distribution Modernazation Rider (DMR)  will be dedicated in “continuing DP&L’s debt repayment to enable the Company to make additional capital expenditures to modernize and maintain”  their distribution and transmission systems. In the sixth year of the plan, both DMR and DIR amendments will expire and will no longer be collected.

If approved by the Public Utility Commission of Ohio, the plan calls for DP&L to exit 100 percent of it’s interest in 2,093 MW of coal fired generation. Specifically the Company will close two co-owned, coal-fired plants in Adams County, Ohio. The Stuart and Killen plants are scheduled to close in mid-2018. In addition, DP&L agrees to begin the process to sell ownership shares in the Conesville, Miami Fort and Zimmer plants. In part, this agreement begins a procurement of solar and wind generation, economic development funding for communities near the Killen and Stuart plants, funds for low income customers and a commitment from DP&L to maintain the headquarters for the Company in Dayton Ohio.

Look to the link below for more reference from North American Clean Energy’s online website from where I received much of the content, some verbatim.

http://www.nacleanenergy.com/articles/25523/dp-l-reaches-agreement-with-various-intervenors-in-electric-security-plan-case

Scott Bushbaum – Sierra Club Miami Group Executive Committee – “Dayton Connections”

 

Wayne National Forest Fracking Strategy Session Fixed for 1/17/2017

According to the Ohio Environmental Council, a strategy session to address the concerns of oil and gas fracking in the Wayne National Forest is scheduled in Columbus Ohio for Tuesday January 17, 2017. The Bureau of Land Management opened an auction of leases between seventeen  and twenty one parcels of the forest on December 6, 2016. The auction is scheduled to begin March 23, 2017 and is open to 1,186 acres in the Marietta Unit of the forest.

The Notice of Competitive Oil and Gas Lease Sale is available at the BLM-ES website. The posting of the lease sale begins a thirty day protest period of the proposed leased parcels. Protests must be delivered in hard copy via postal service or fax, not emailed or by hand. The BLM received consent from the US Forest Service to offer these parcels in accordance with the revised 2006 Land and Resource Management Plan and the 2012 Supplemental Informational Report. In addition, resource specialists in the BLM Northeastern States District completed an (EA) Environmental Assessment During the process at the Athens Ranger District, public meetings were held in Athens, Ironton and Marietta Ohio. The final EA was released on October 13, 2016.

The March 23, 2017 lease sale will not authorize the successful bidders to develop their leases, according to the Bureau of Land Management, rather they are purchasing a lease which allows them to develop the parcel of land within ten years of the sale date.Because the sale does not authorize drilling, a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) was released at the same time as the final Environmental Assessment (EA). Although the lease holder will need further authorization before drilling or developing a well, the leases do contain some stipulation, mostly due to risk mitigation that are specific of the parcel. The risks can include soil erosion during construction, sensitive habitat disruption to the Threatened and Endangered Species Act, impairment of archeological research and detriment due to authorized recreational use.

Before any ground disturbing activity may begin on the auctioned parcels, operators must submit an Application for Permit to Drill (APD) to the BLM-ES. At that time, the BLM will initiate a site specific environmental analysis with the Wayne National Forest to determine the feasibility of the drill plan. The Ohio State of Department of Natural Resources will concurrently evaluate the APD for operational risks to groundwater.

The Bureau of Land Management oversees more than 245 million acres of public land, more than any Federal agency. The land is also known as the National System of Public Lands located in twelve Western states, including Alaska.  The BLM also administers to 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the USA. The BLM’s mission is to sustain the health, diversity and productivity of America’s public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations.

This collaboration between the Ohio Environmental Council, Ohio Revolution and a long list of interested organizations is scheduled at the Northwood High Building at 2231 N. High St. Columbus OH 43201. The event, hosted by Ohio Revolution, begins at 6:30 pm and ends at 8:30 pm. Off street parking is available for attendees.

Scott Bushbaum – Sierra Club / Miami Group – Executive Committee

 

Day of Action Against Climate Denial

Day of Action Against Climate Denial
columbia_glacier NASAOn January 9, 2017, organizations across the climate movement are hosting the Day Against Denial, a chance for people in all 50 states to pressure their Senators to stand up against Trump’s Climate Denial Cabinet. The goal is to turn people out to in-district Senate offices all across the country, with a special focus on target Senators who are swing votes for either the Pruitt or Trump nominations. The message of the Day of Action Against Climate Denial is focused on standing up to climate denial and the fossil fuel industry that funds it. But Trump’s denial goes beyond just climate change: he also denies the dignity of all people, denies the importance of human rights, and denies the needs of our communities. Denying climate change denies the fact that sea levels are rising, and black, brown, and Indigenous peoples are at the forefront of storms, floods, sea level rise, and all the other climate impacts we are already witnessing. The Day of Action Against Climate Denial will fight back against this complete disregard for human life, health, and safe liveable communities. Join the Miami Group in Cincinnati by emailing miamigroupsierraclub@gmail.com for time and location.

What is next for the Tremont City Barrel Fill Landfill ?

On December 6, 2016 I received an email from Marilyn Welker a volunteer for the non profit group, People For Safe Water. Some of her work over the past two years has centered on the Tremont City Barrel Fill Landfill that is located just three and one half miles northwest of Springfield Ohio on State Route 68 at the Tremont City Transfer Waste Facility. It occupies 8.5 acres of a larger 80 acre property there at 3112 Snyder-Domer Rd. German Twp. Ohio 45502, according to EPA Superfund and German Twp. The landfill is within area near the Greater Miami Sole Source Aquifer and the Springfield Wellfield that has received attention from People for Safe Water, OEPA and residents due to the disposal of 51,500 barrels totaling some 300,000 gallons of industrial waste dumped there from 1976 to 1979. In 1980, a 10 to 17 ft. deep top layer of soil was deposited over the area considered toxic. EPA does not consider the landfill to be worthy of Superfund designation for cleanup but has asked the State of Ohio to agree to propose and begin the process for EPA Superfund money.

In recent news, US EPA Region 5 contracted with Tetra Tech to evaluate possible permanent removal of the 51,500 barrels of waste there. Tetra Tech concluded that “…The available information was insufficient for this type of ranking and consequently provided no means to deem one hazardous waste solid         than another.” In response to EPA’s request “to identify a type of waste that was likely more hazardous and solid, whose removal may be beneficial ‘still bottoms’ are one such waste.” Still bottoms are residues from distillation processes such as oil refining and solvent recycling which typically contain volatile organic compounds (VOC’s) and semi-volatile organic compounds (SVOC’s). “In summary, there is insufficient information to identify drummed waste solids that pose the greatest threat. However removal of still bottoms would reduce the quantity of hazardous waste on site.” according to the report from Tetra Tech.

Ohio EPA Director Craig W. Butler discussed this report with Ohio legislators Rep. Kyle Koehler (R-District 79), Sen. Bob Hackett (R-District 10) and Rep. Bill Dean (R- District 74). Director Butler asked for a response from citizens and community leaders. The People for Safe Water responded in a letter to Director Butler on November 21, 2016 after speaking with community leaders and consultants. The letter affirms the commitment from EPA Region 5 to remove the “worst of the worst”.  The letter suggests “…remove a subset of ‘the worst of the worst’ barrels whose chemicals are both highly toxic and highly           mobile. Highly mobile meaning waste that travels through sand, gravel and soil quickly. Also, the letter recommends the support and stabilization of solids that are to remain at the site and will be reburied.

In the coming weeks, Director Craig Butler will meet with citizens and local leaders. The People for Safe Water has worked to seek common ground for an “enhanced cleanup plan”. Their approach to the Tremont City Barrel Fill landfill issue is aligned with economic benefit to the people of Tremont City and their health and safety. When I discussed this matter with Virginia Narsete, Community Involvement Coordinator at US EPA in October 2015, I was directed to the Clark County Combined Health District Commissioner Charlie Patterson for answers to the health concerns from citizens affected by the waste at the Tremont City Waste Transfer Facility. The People for Safe Water have also collaborated with the Sierra Club Miami Group and Ohio Citizen Action in Dayton with legal actions to oppose the Source Water Protection Plan, Ordinance 53, and a Memorandum of Understanding with OEPA from 1985 in Dayton Ohio on July 29, 2015. The material in this post online to miamigroup,org is from Marilyn Welker, People for Safe Water at mwelker@ctcn.net

Scott Bushbaum – Sierra Club Miami Group Executive Committee / Sierra Club Ohio Chapter Executive Committee / “Dayton Connections”

 

Ohio Energy Update – SB 320 & HB 554

Clean energy standards are moving quickly through the Ohio legislature, according to Jen Miller, Sierra Club Ohio Chapter Director. Here is what to look for:

SB 320 – This bill is said to provide unenforceable, voluntary renewable energy and energy efficiency standards. The renewable energy standards have no requirements to demonstrate standards until 2021. Energy efficiency standards eliminate consequences for meeting requirements until 2020. SB 320 also decreases the energy efficiency requirement from 22% to 17% by 2027. Also, the bill is said to remove OEPA authority to cost effectively meet the Clean Power Plan and requires the OEPA and PUCO to pass legislation through the legislature before Ohio can participate in any carbon allowance or carbon rating to meet the CPP. This undermines Ohio’s opportunity to be cost effective in meeting carbon emission requirements.

HB 554 – This bill makes energy standards unenforceable and voluntary for 2017, 2018 and 2019. It includes the Mercantile opt-out provision and does not include Clean Power Plan or expanded energy efficiency language.

No action was taken by the Ohio Senate Energy and Natural Resource Committee this week on SB 320. The House of Representatives did not meet and there was no movement on HB 554. The Senatorial Committee above will meet on November 29th at 4 pm to hear all testimony, introduce any amendments and a vote on the bill is expected. The House Public Utilities Committee will meet on Wednesday November 30th at 4 pm in hearing room 121 for a hearing on HB 554 to do the same.

Action items for Sierra Club include making in person or submitting written testimony, attending the Nov. 29th and Nov. 30th hearings, asking your Ohio Senator or Representative to vote NO on SB 320 and HB 554 (encouraging your networks to follow suit) and in writing a letter to the editor of your local newspaper asking the Ohio General Assembly to vote NO on SB 320 and HB 554 and to move Ohio forward on a clean energy economy.

Scott Bushbaum – Sierra Club Miami Group Executive Committee / Ohio Chapter Executive Committee / Dayton Connections

Sierra Club Endorsements 2016

Important! Vote for Hillary Clinton and Ted Strickland as well as the following state and local candidates who have been interviewed and endorsed by the Sierra Club.
Michelle Young, running for the first Congressional District in Ohio, has also been endorsed.

driehausDenise Driehaus for HAMILTON COUNTY COMMISSIONER (D). Ms. Driehaus has received endorsement from Sierra Club as the Representative for the 31st District of the State of Ohio in previous elections.

At MSD, she wants to see more functional transparency, an open approach and a new structure still allowing current city employees to participate in the city pension fund.

She is in favor of terminating state funding for the Eastern Corridor project with the exception of keeping funds for road improvements in Madisonville. She has built relationships during her tenure on the State Transportation Task Force there to allow her to leverage capital dollars. Last, she is in favor of a county-wide ban of injection wells.

portune Todd Portune for HAMILTON COUNTY COMMISSIONER (D)  Mr. Portune has been endorsed many times by the Sierra Club. One of his priorities is transportation, particularly increasing rail locally and regionally. He would also promote bike travel and barge freight as important (he says most environmental and cheapest). He also thought that High Occupant Vehicle lanes would be beneficial.

One of his priorities is the Metropolitan Sewer District. He is having discussions on the governance structure. Commissioner Portune stated that he prefers Green Infrastructure for the MSD projects, saying they will save money. He states he agrees with some of the conclusions of the Hamilton County Rate Affordability Task Force and is looking to lower the minimum charge.

Infrastructure repair priorities would be the Western Hills Viaduct and the Brent Spence bridge.

kelly Brigid Kelly for STATE REPRESENTATIVE FOR THE 31st DISTRICT IN HAMILTON COUNTY (D) Brigid Kelly is running for the district previously represented by Denise Driehaus who is term limited. Ms. Kelly has prior political experience, serving on Norwood City Council. She currently works as a labor organizer for UFCW Local 75.

Ms. Kelly is against the proposed Duke Energy pipeline that will cross several of the neighborhoods in the 31st District. She believes drinking water should be safe and tested for lead on a consistent basis. If elected would work to reinstate the energy standards implemented under the Strickland Administration. She supports clean renewable power that will provide good paying jobs in Ohio. She also supports light rail and more bike paths and lanes.

She hopes to follow in the environmental footsteps of Denise Driehaus who was a champion of the Sierra Club at the Ohio Statehouse.

mirandaJessica Miranda for STATE REPRESENTATIVE FOR THE 28th DISTRICT IN HAMILTON COUNTY (D) Ms. Jessica Miranda, Democrat, is a small business owner and President of the Forest Park Board of Education. She is running for the seat previously held by Connie Pillich. The district is considered one of the few swing districts in the state. Ms. Miranda’s opponent is an incumbent Republican who supports fracking and is anti-environmental.

She is against fracking but believes as long as it continues it should be taxed, regulated and required to with the Clean Water and Air Acts. She opposes Duke Energy’s plans to build a massive gas pipelines through the 28th House District.

She supports improving local infrastructure such as sewers, bridges and the efforts to test drinking water for lead and other contaminants. She believes in safe, reliable transit access for all Ohioans. She does not support logging, mining and drilling on Ohio’s public lands.

rubin Suzi Rubin for STATE REPRESENTATIVE FROM THE 53RD DISTRICT IN BUTLER COUNTY (D)  Ms. Rubin is a member of the Monroe City Council. She ran for State Rep in 2010 and 2012 and was endorsed by the Sierra Club. The incumbent is term limited. Her opponent is running as a Republican but is not being supported the by the Republican party.

She supports the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign and believes that renewable energy brings jobs and cleans the air. She would work to restore Ohio’s previous clean energy timeline dismantled by Senate Bill 310.

She supports a complete moratorium of hydro-fracking in Ohio. She believes that fracking is a home rule issue and that local communities in Ohio should be able to ban it for their communities. She does not believe mining and gas drilling should take place on public lands.

To prevent fertilizer and manure pollution she advocates a micro nutrient or pin-pointing fertilizer to only crops that need it. While this would be expensive for small farmers she recommends a grant or co-op program to help them reduce their fertilizer applications.

 ***

The Endorsement Process Both the Miami Group and the Ohio Chapter Executive Committees have approved these endorsements. The Miami Group Political Committee did the research and initial recommendations. That research included the use of candidate questionnaires and interviews, examination of voting records and leadership, and conversations with local environmental leaders. Gail Lewin chairs the Miami Group Political Committee. Other members are Gayle Ficken-Clarke, Marie Kokochis, Jean Cantor, Debbie Clark, Lynn Frock, Rich Jordan, Brian Kwiatkowski.

Get Involved for Positive Change The candidates we have described will make a positive difference in our region if elected. However, they need our help to be successful in November. Please learn more about the candidates by checking their websites. Choose a campaign or two you would like to help and give them a call. Even an hour or two can make a difference. As you work for the campaigns let them know you are a Sierra Club member who has Cincinnati’s environmental well-being in mind. Let’s work together to improve the environment in and around Cincinnati!

 

 

Dayton Power and Light Bailout Hearing – 9/27/16 at Dayton City Hall

Neil Waggoner, Sierra Club Beyond Coal Campaign organizer is putting out the word to folks in Dayton and SW Ohio…,

The DP&L bailout hearings are scheduled for two public meetings on September 27, 2016 at Dayton City Hall. One meeting is at 3 p.m. and another is later the same day at 6 p.m.

Dayton City Hall is located at 101 W. Third St. Dayton OH 45402.

DP&L is seeking money from taxpayers to  pay for old power plants. With renewable energy such as solar and wind already replacing coal power in many places in the Midwest, like northern Indiana, the Sierra Club is working to organize a movement toward solar and wind. Coal power is dangerous to miners, dirty to the atmosphere where it’s known to contribute to climate change and global warming. Coal power is expensive also. The capital return on the investment to utilities can be beneficial to them and those who use alternative sources of power; some market analysts say solar power can be as inexpensive as 5.5 cents per kilowatt hour.

Join us at Dayton City Hall on September 27th and be a part of a movement that stops tax money for coal plants! More information is available at our Facebook page for this event at https://www.facebook.com/events/1063291723791400/

Scott Bushbaum – Sierra Club Miami Group Executive Committee / Ohio Chapter Executive Committee

 

Ohio Utilities Seek to Discourage Efficiency

Two Ohio utility companies, DP&L (Dayton Power and Light) and AEP (American Electric Power), have petitioned the Ohio Public Utilities Commission to increase their fixed rate charges. These are the charges on your utility bill that do not vary when you use more or less energy. In the case of DP&L, the charges will increase up to 223%.  Utility companies across the country have made similar proposals in the past few years. It’s easy to guess why. Threats to usage-based revenue loom large on the horizon. Homes have become much more energy efficient in recent years, and the popularity of programs such as LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), Passivhaus, and the Living Building Challenge  suggest that they could be drastically more efficient in just a few years.

In February, Consumers Union enumerated the problems with fixed-charge increases thusly:

Low-usage and low-income customers are hit hardest by mandatory fixed fee hikes.

Utilities keep pushing for increases in fixed charges, even as utilities commissions often steer away from them.

Fixed charges reduce customer control.

Reduced incentives for energy efficiency and distributed generation can raise costs for all consumers.

The article and link to the full report are available here, and well worth a read. Other strategies, such as inclining block rates, can provide utilities with the necessary operating revenue without burdening the poor or discouraging the forward-thinking.

If you feel the same please write the PUC and voice your opposition to fixed charges:

Public Utilities Commission of Ohio

180 East Broad Street

Columbus, Ohio 43215

Read more about this issue at:

The Rocky Mountain Institute

Ohio Citizen Action

Consumer Reports