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Published: Wednesday, 9/11/2013 - Updated: 10 months ago

Energy diversity law imperiled

Activists say Ohio No. 2 in carbon releases

BY TOM HENRY
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Ohio continues to rank second behind Texas for climate-altering carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants.

Environment Ohio of Columbus said Tuesday that's a reminder of the need to keep the state's energy-diversification law intact while jump-starting the commitment made to renewable energy in recent years by Toledo, Bowling Green, and other parts of northwest Ohio.

Christian Adams, Environment Ohio clean air associate, said during a news conference in Promenade Park the issue remains the “elephant in the room” as the Obama Administration finalizes new U.S. Environmental Protection Agency rules this month for tighter restrictions on carbon-dioxide emissions from coal-fired power plants.

Carbon dioxide is not the only greenhouse gas associated with climate change, but it is by far the most prevalent.

Coal-fired power plants are the nation's biggest source of carbon emissions.

Ohio has been No. 2 behind Texas in carbon releases before, largely a result of coal-fired power plants in southern Ohio.

The latest ranking is based on 2011 U.S. Energy Information Administration records.

Joining Mr. Adams at the news conference was Al Compaan, a retired University of Toledo physics department chairman and renewable energy advocate who has given expert testimony on solar power to Ohio legislators in the past. Mr. Compaan now is associated with a small Toledo-area firm developing niche solar products.

“One of the important things to realize is the landscape for coal-fired power plants is changing,” Mr. Compaan said.

Market forces have reduced America's dependence on coal-fired power in recent years.

Many analysts believe that's largely a result of falling prices for natural gas as the use of hydraulic fracturing of shale rock, or “fracking,” expands.

Natural gas releases some greenhouse gases when burned to make electricity, but not nearly as many as coal.

Ohio legislators passed a law five years ago that requires at least 12.5 percent of the state's electricity to come from renewable energy sources by 2025. The state is one of many with laws that require energy diversity.

Renewable energy advocates said they are bracing for a conservative-led repeal effort in the Ohio General Assembly this fall, even though Ohio's requirements for energy diversification are more modest than many other states’.

Contact Tom Henry at:

thenry@theblade.com

or 419-724-6079.



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