Ohio Set Back and Pollution Rises From House Bill 6

Corrupt Ohio House Bill 6 allowed several power plants to remain open at the expense of Ohioans’ health and dollars.

Back in July of 2019, House Bill 6 was signed into law by Governor Mike DeWine, allowing two nuclear plants and three coal power plants to receive funding and remain open. The bill gutted renewable energy plans and emissions standards for Ohio and was later found to be a corrupt scheme led by Larry Householder who has since been prosecuted. 

Parts of the Bill have been repealed, but the damage by the plants to the environment has yet to stop, and could have been reduced. Not only did the bill harm Ohio renewable energy efforts, but it allowed previously First Energy’s Davis-Besse and Perry nuclear plants to remain open past their intended closures in 2020 and 2021.

The bill also gave funding to the Ohio Valley Electric Corporation, supporting its two dated coal burning plants, Kyger Creek in Ohio and Clifty Creek in Madison, Indiana, about 75 miles from Cincinnati.

The last plant expected to close but was able to remain open from bill funding, was First Energy’s Sammis coal plant in Stratton, Ohio. Previously nicknamed a “super polluter,” Sammis is another outdated plant that produces harmful emissions for our environment and citizens.

Cameron Lee provided by Kent State University

“Power plants, especially those powered by fossil fuels, release many harmful contaminants that affect air quality,” says IQAir North America CEO Glory Hammes. Contaminants that are released include carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide and heavy metals.

“These are all extremely dangerous pollutants that can cause health issues,” Hammes said. These pollutants are worse coming from coal plants in comparison to the cleaner nuclear plants.

“A lot of coal contains sulfuric compounds,” says associate professor and climate scientist Cameron Lee at Kent State University. The compounds, once burned to create energy at these plants are released into the atmosphere and can cause damage to people as well as the planet. “Various sulfur oxides can be harmful to people’s health and are especially irritating to the lungs,” Lee said.

The nitrogen oxide is one of the worst pollutants created by these plants. “Nitrogen oxide can be an irritant to people’s lungs and precursors to smog and ozone issues,” Lee said. Lee attributed these pollutants to the acid rains that are downwind of the rust-belt of the midwest where many of these coal plants are.

The harm of the pollutants from these plants is doubled by the stripping of renewable energy efforts in Ohio. The health of the planet and the effects of climate change heavily rely on a shift to renewable energy according to Lee. 

Ron Schofield pictured & provided

“If we don’t start switching to a renewable resource, such as solar, such as wind, something that isn’t going to emit these greenhouse gases, then we’re going to have all kinds of potential impacts that are detrimental,” Lee said.

Extreme weather events will be more common as the climate continues to warm according to Lee, and he’s not the only Ohioan concerned. 

David Greene from the Columbus area gave testimony to his representatives who he said, many began to walk out while he was still expressing his concerns. “Ohio voters should know about this,” Greene said.

“I’m affected by them saying our clean energy plan should be thrown out,” Greene said about his concern since House Bill 6. He worries about the climate crisis and is frustrated with Ohio holding onto dying coal plants using Ohioan’s money.

“Ohio should be a leader in innovation,” Greene said.

Ronald Schofield is another Ohioan, from Warren County, who expressed concern about the impact Ohio House Bill 6 had on our environment. “In my case, it’s firsthand witnessing the change of the climate in a region I loved,” Schofield said.

He shared a personal story where nearly 30 years ago, he visited the Cascade Mountains and fell in love with its glaciers, rivers and streams. “Even in the 30 years since I went up there, things have changed,” Schofiel said, referencing the shrunken glaciers and increasingly more frequent forest fires of the west.

While the root of his worry stemmed from his trips states away from Ohio, he also gave testimony against House Bill 6 as a worried Ohio resident about our contribution to the issue. “One of my biggest motivations was climate change and the emissions,” Schofield said.

Through awareness of the corruption that occurred, holding those who played a role accountable and voting in representatives who support renewable energy, Ohio can try to move forward after going back in time and be the leaders that citizens like Greene hope for us to be.