BELLVILLE, Ohio – Despite the fire he took for at least temporarily halting Ohio’s standards on renewable energy and for adding restrictions to wind energy, Gov. John Kasich says he is as committed to “green” energy as ever.
He said yesterday that he had fended off even more draconian energy proposals from his fellow Republicans in the legislature, including a veto threat. That was before they passed Senate Bill 310, a two-year freeze on annual increases in standards for renewable energy and energy efficiency, and new setback restrictions on wind turbines contained in a separate budget bill.
“I spent more time and more effort making sure that we have a bill that fit Ohio, that will not bankrupt consumers or hurt jobs, but something that’s still forward-looking on renewables,” he said.
Kasich spoke yesterday to more than 200 members of the Ashland Area, Bucyrus Area, Clear Fork Valley, Galion-Crestline and Richland Area chambers of commerce at Deer Ridge Golf Club south of Mansfield.
He noted that critics of the energy standards have two years to come up with an alternative.
“If they don’t give us something that works, we go back to the old standards,” he said.
He defended the increased setback restrictions on wind turbines by saying, “Private property rights are important. People choose to live somewhere. You just don’t go in there and disrupt their life.”
Energy has emerged as a key difference between Kasich and Democratic challenger Ed FitzGerald.
When the Cuyahoga County administrator rolled out his energy plan this month, he called for a repeal of Senate Bill 310 and the wind-energy limitations.
“Gov. Kasich is putting an enormous ‘you are not welcome’ sign on Ohio when it comes to a new energy economy,” FitzGerald has said on multiple occasions. “Ohio is not the place to go if you want to make a major investment in the new energy economy.”
Kasich spokesman Rob Nichols noted that the governor launched a new green-energy initiative to recapture waste heat.
And the wind-energy provision says “if a project is in the pipeline, they’re grandfathered in,” Nichols said. Plus the new law doesn’t change the possibility of getting a waiver to the setback requirements.
Other highlights from Kasich’s speech and remarks afterward:
• When asked about the possibility of seeking the presidency in 2016, he quoted Clint Eastwood’s Harry Callahan in Magnum Force: “A man’s got to know his limitations.”
As has become his custom, he ticked off several reasons why he would not run but didn’t quite say he actually would not.
In fact, Kasich did confirm that he would be campaigning next year, noting that “I am going to travel this country” to push for a balanced-budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
• He defended cutting hundreds of millions of dollars from the local-government fund. Kasich told an engineer who questioned the impact of reductions on his township that the state needs the $1.5 billion it plowed into a rainy-day fund, and that local officials are going to have to learn to cut back or share services. The current two-year state budget spends 14.6 percent more than the previous one.
• The governor also defended the Common Core, saying while the plan sets overall goals for educational achievement, local school boards must approve the curriculum to achieve those objectives. Common Core is a set of common standards for math and English/language arts.
Most of Kasich’s speech was a familiar recitation of statistics depicting Ohio’s economic turnaround since about the time he took office, with a new twist: “Ohio’s on its way up, whether LeBron is here or not.”