John Kasich, the Republican governor of Ohio and former presidential candidate, has broken ranks with the Republican-controlled state legislature. On Dec. 27, Kasich vetoed a bill that would weaken clean-energy regulations in the state.
House Bill 554 "amounts to self-inflicted damage to both our state's near- and long-term economic competitiveness," Kasich said after his veto, reports The Columbus Dispatch. The bill would give a $264 million tax break to the petroleum industry as well as enable the dismantling of key state agencies.
According to Cincinnati.com, the Environmental Defense Fund applauded Kasich’s veto, seeing the move as "clearing the way for well-paying jobs, millions in investment, and healthier air for all."
"We are grateful for Governor Kasich's leadership on the issue of energy reform,” the Christian Coalition of Ohio said. “We want Ohio to lead the nation in energy production to provide jobs for our families, savings for our churches, and safety for our children through American energy independence.”
But Ohio state Sen. Bill Seitz, a Republican, disagreed with Kasich’s action.
"It is apparent that Governor Kasich cares more about appeasing his coastal elite friends in the renewable energy business than he does about the millions of Ohioans who decisively rejected this ideology when they voted for President-elect [Donald] Trump,” he said. “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."
Kasich noted, "It is unlikely that the General Assembly intended for this item to yield such a significant loss of tax revenue ... to provide even more favorable tax treatment to an industry that is already comparatively lightly taxed."
Andy Holzhauser, founder and former CEO of the Greater Cincinnati Energy Alliance, expressed concern that the battle over regulations is stunting investments in the state, reports Cincinnati.com.
"Businesses need certainty to invest," he argued. The debates over the freeze on clean energy "create uncertainty, and thus you stunt private sector investment ... The vast majority of Ohioans support clean energy and want more of it."