Breaking with his party, Republican Governor John Kasich in Ohio took a small, but significant step toward fighting climate change.
In 2008, the Ohio legislature passed a bill requiring that 12.5% of energy supplied to customers in the state come from renewable sources. In 2014, midway through his first term, Kasich signed a bill freezing those standards.
The governor — whose term ends in 2020 — has now reversed course, breaking with his party and vetoing House Bill 554, which would have made the standards voluntary for utility companies, allowing them to resume in 2017 as originally laid out in 2008.
Kasich described the veto as necessary to maintain Ohio’s competitive business climate, but the decision was immediately hailed by environmental groups.
“Today Governor Kasich put economic growth over politics, and stood up for a cleaner, healthier energy future for Ohio,” Dick Munson, director of Midwest Clean Energy for the Environmental Defense Fund, said in a statement. “With the state’s renewable and efficiency standards back in place, Ohio can reclaim its spot as a clean energy leader, clearing the way for well-paying jobs, millions in investment, and healthier air for all.”
With a climate-skeptical presidential administration incoming, efforts to roll back environmental damage over the next four years will likely fall to states — and many are already taking up the challenge.
In response to Trump’s election and avowed climate change skepticism, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo touted the state’s fracking ban and strict renewable energy standards. And California governor Jerry Brown struck a defiant posture, vowing to counter any federal attempt to stymie climate change research.
“If Trump turns off the satellites, California will launch our own damn satellites,” Brown told an audience of geophysicists in San Francisco.
While both Brown and Cuomo are Democrats, Kasich’s example proves that climate change doesn’t have to be — and shouldn’t be — partisan football.
Tightening clean energy standards and investing in new technology isn’t just good for the health of the planet. Crucially, as Kasich noted in his veto message, it can be good for business and help homeowners reduce energy costs.
We all live on — and have a responsibility to protect — the same Earth. That’s something reasonable Republicans and reasonable Democrats can agree on.
With any luck, perhaps this means they’re starting to.