CHAGRIN FALLS, Ohio — What if I told you that we could strengthen an industry that already employs more than 112,000 Ohioans while contributing billions of dollars to our national economy each year? Without even knowing what this industry is, most people would eagerly do whatever they could to add these jobs and economic investment.
That industry is advanced energy. Advanced energy can unleash untold economic investment in Ohio while harnessing the power of Ohio-led innovation.
Ohio can do more to support our energy sector through new methods of market development and technological innovation.
Ohio has a tremendous history of powering our nation through the use of coal and natural gas. While these natural resources have greatly benefited our state, it is imperative we also utilize new energy sources. Just as your financial advisor would never invest in only one or two stocks, it is of equal importance that we diversify Ohio’s energy portfolio.
I have introduced Ohio Senate Bill 238. This bill reworks the current setbacks, which have effectively placed a moratorium on wind-energy production in Ohio, to levels that promote wind-energy development. This alone has the potential to bring 13,000 construction jobs along with $4 billion of economic investment to Ohio. As of now, my bill remains in the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. I am still fighting to get it passed this General Assembly, but if I don’t, I will reintroduce the legislation in January.
To put it plainly, the market is demanding advanced sources of energy. Access to clean and renewable energy is often a prerequisite for large companies such as Facebook, Whirlpool, Amazon and yes, General Motors. If we expect these companies to continue to keep and expand their Ohio operations, and encourage new companies to site in Ohio (or, in the case of GM, reopen shuttered plants), it is vital to have policies that are prepared to meet the demands of the 21st-century economy.
Of course, if we want Ohio to continue to be a national economic leader, we must strive to meet today’s private-sector demands by looking at clean energy from a macro perspective.
We have long been home to some of history’s greatest innovators. From Neil Armstrong to John Glenn, from the Wright Brothers to Thomas Edison, our state has embraced the spirit of American ingenuity. As our society becomes more and more interconnected, we will need more energy to power our daily lives. The 21st century can, and should, be a period of American innovation. As a state senator and a proud Ohioan, I want that innovation, and all its byproducts, to be made-in-Ohio.
According to a 2017 blog by Environmental Defense Fund interns Elizabeth Villedrouin and Kristen Moore, the millennial generation, soon to be the largest living generation, “wants to promote systemic, market-based solutions and new technologies that shift our country toward clean energy and away from our fossil fuel past.”
So if we want Ohio to attract and retain the younger generation, we must strive to be a leader in clean, advanced energy generation.
Many of our greatest advancements have been spurred out of necessity to keep America safe. Advanced energy is no exception. Our military leaders would never sacrifice operational readiness for the sake of being “green”. Rather, they recognize China and Russia are taking the lead in the development of clean and renewable energy sources to fuel their military. Our military leadership knows advanced energy is necessary for our national security and economic independence. Energy is a scarce resource; we cannot afford to fall behind these countries. We refused to fall behind in the space race during the Cold War. We need to harness that can-do spirit once again.
What happens in Ohio certainly does not stay in Ohio. National and global leaders do not look to the East or West Coast to model their policies; they look to the Midwest, especially Ohio. In fact, Cuyahoga County leads all counties in Ohio with more than 13,000 clean-energy jobs. Our military leaders are asking for it. Our business leaders are begging for it. Our citizens are demanding it. Now is the time to put forth common-sense energy policies in Ohio. A policy that focuses on the needs of today, with an eye toward the many future innovations.