Ohio Governor John Kasich draws fire from his own political party for taking action on state's renewable energy targets. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo
COLUMBUS, Ohio, Dec. 28 (UPI) -- Ohio's Republican governor said the state can't erase the economic gains that come from renewable energy mandates, and vetoed a law making them optional.
John Kasich, a former Republican presidential candidate, vetoed HB 554, which would've made the state's energy targets optional until the end of the decade. The governor said the legislation would've put Ohio at a disadvantage when trying to bring clean-energy revenue to the state.
"Arbitrarily limiting Ohio's energy generation options amounts to self-inflicted damage to both our state's near- and long-term economic competitiveness," he said in his veto message.
The bill lets the state renewable energy target proceed so that Ohio's share of electricity from renewables increased to 12.5 percent by 2026, but made enforcement optional until 2020.
Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, also a Republican, last week signed a bill that raised the state's renewable energy target by 5 percent to 15 percent by 2022.
Lawmakers in Ohio can overturn the veto if they pick up additional support to gain a three-fifths majority. The state House passed the measure 56-41 and the Senate voted 18-13.
State Sen. Bill Seitz, a Republican representing Cincinnati, expressed frustration with the veto on ideological grounds, saying the governor had moved directly against the grain of the president-elect.
"We can only hope that President Trump and his amazing Cabinet of free market capitalists will save us from the regulatory overreach of Al Gore-style policies that take unnecessary money out of ratepayers' pockets," he said in a statement.
Ohio is one of the states rich in shale natural gas reserves. Trump has moved squarely in line with the fossil fuels industry, selecting former Exxon Mobil CEO as his secretary of state, among other decisions.
Kasich's name was mentioned as an alternate in a last-ditch effort to deny Trump the presidency through votes in the Electoral College.
The governor said the state's existing energy laws have yielded $1 billion in savings to date. Ted Ford, president of Ohio Advanced Energy Economy, said in an emailed statement the veto keeps Ohio in step with regional trends.
"While Ohio has been idling, Michigan has attracted over $1.1 billion in renewable energy investments," he said. "With this veto, Ohio can begin to move forward with sensible energy policy next year."