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Tuesday, November 25, 2014
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Published: Thursday, 5/29/2014

GUEST COLUMN

Don’t subsidize Ohio utilities with our children’s health

Putting clean-energy programs that are working on hold simply doesn’t make sense

BY STEVE FORTENBERRYAND MITCH HESCOX

According to the American Lung Association’s annual State of the Air report, Ohio’s air quality is failing. That’s why Ohio evangelicals are surprised by the rushed deal by Gov. John Kasich and the General Assembly on Senate Bill 310. Where is the effort to defend our kids?

Air pollution threatens the health, well-being, and lives of our children, unborn and born. The lives of the 230,000 children in Ohio with asthma, and those of their families, will be made worse if SB 310 becomes law.

That’s just one of the health effects of this ill-conceived bill. We ask Governor Kasich to be guided by his faith and veto this legislation.

Our ministry, the Evangelical Environmental Network, believes that creation-care is a matter of life. For us, this means protecting human life from conception until natural death.

As a recent video by Focus on the Family, The Dignity of Life, concludes: “From the formation of a child’s first tiny cell to life’s final breath, all life has dignity and value, because each and every one of us is made in the image of God.” We believe Governor Kasich has the same values that guide our common evangelical faith.

For years, Ohioans have subsidized coal-fired utilities with our children’s health. The actual costs of coal-fired electricity to public health exceed the prices that utilities charge. The bodies of our children bear these costs.

SB 310 doesn’t defend life. It only protects those who have failed to care for our children’s health.

More than 25,000 pro-life Christians in Ohio have called for action on promoting clean energy and addressing air pollution through our campaigns. Ohio is making important progress in these areas.

But pro-life Christians, and others of goodwill, are going to be sorely disappointed if Governor Kasich and Ohio lawmakers don’t defend our kids from the air pollution that detracts from their lives.

Fast-tracked by lawmakers and supported by big polluters, SB 310 would halt progress on protecting children and the unborn from dirty air. It would make Ohio’s air dirtier by stopping an energy-efficiency program that has saved utility consumers $574 million, and a clean-energy program that has created thousands of jobs in Ohio and supports an industry that employs more than 25,000 Ohioans.

As our Catholic brothers and sisters have proposed, we are open to a legitimate academic study of the benefits of Ohio’s energy-efficiency and clean-energy programs to identify ways they could improve. But putting something that is working on hold simply doesn’t make sense.

Stopping efficiency gains and thwarting progress on clean energy produced in Ohio to protect utilities that are trapped in the past, rather than defending our children and their future, is not what pro-life Christians should do.

The pro-life response by Governor Kasich to Senate Bill 310 is a veto.

The Rev. Steve Fortenberry is founder of Goodness Grows, a nonprofit agricultural organization operated by Common Ground Church in North Lima, Ohio. The Rev. Mitch Hescox is president of the Evangelical Environmental Network in New Freedom, Pa.



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