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Ohio Once Meant Beautiful

April 25, 2011 – Ohio’s new governor, John Kasich, hasn’t stopped dumbfounding opponents and supporters alike since his election. First he promised the Cincinnati Enquirer that all meetings regarding public business would be open to the public; it’s one of the reasons they supported him. Once in office, he lost no time in holding meetings closed to the public - in the case of his meeting with the state EPA, so that he could speak “candidly.” One can only assume from this that those meetings actually open to the public will not be notable for their candor. Next came SB5, now passed into law, which drastically limits the rights of teachers and other union members to engage in collective bargaining.
Neither of these instances of ill-advised chutzpah can compare, however, with the governor’s support for power plant proposals to clear-cut all Ohio forests over the next 15 years, for the purpose of burning them for fuel. You read that right: according to the Buckeye Forest Council (www.buckeyeforestcouncil.org) , this power plant proposal calls for the clear-cutting of all Ohio forests. How is this possible? Trees were included as a renewable fuel in Ohio’s Renewables Portfolio in SB221. Why would power plants, or Gov. Kasich, or the general assembly, think this is a good idea? Because it allows power plants to avoid the allegedly onerous upfront costs associated with developing wind power and solar power.
Enough about the costs power plants don’t want to pay. What about the price we will all pay, should this boondoggle become reality? Because wood is an inefficient source of heat, it gives off 150% of the CO2 that burning coal does, much of it in the form of soot. (According to newly-released research, much of global warming is the result of the darkening effect of soot on snow. See http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2011/04/21/MNR31J4G0L.DTL) Furthermore, it would take 30-90 years to grow enough trees capable of recapturing the CO2 released.
Fellow Ohioans, can you imagine an Ohio without trees? Trees define Ohio. We’re known as “Buckeyes,” named after the Buckeye (horse chestnut) tree. Southern Ohio, in particular, is blessed with more trees than anyplace I know, and that includes North Carolina, where I used to live. The rolling hills – foothills of the Appalachians – quickly give way to mountains, and all of them are covered with trees. Ohio meant beautiful in the Miami Indian language, and beautiful it is. What shall we call our state, once Gov. Kasich and the power plants are done with it?
Do you know anyone with asthma? Children, in particular? Prepare to watch them suffer, as their natural heritage goes up in smoke. Here’s what the Massachusetts Medical Society had to say about instituting biomass power production (their advice went unheeded in that state): “Epidemiologists have long recognized that air pollution is associated with an increased risk of a broad range of medical problems, from asthma attacks and decreased lung growth in children to increased lung disease exacerbations, emergency room use, hospitalization rates, heart attacks, and death rates in adults.” Governor Kasich, what are you thinking?

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