Energy / Freeze on Clean Energy / Renewable Energy

Debate over Ohio conservatives’ views of renewable energy swirls in wake of poll

The Ohio Statehouse (Credit: Tlarrow/Creative Commons)

COLUMBUS — “Some prominent Ohio Republicans are sparring over renewable-energy policy, with each side claiming to represent conservative Ohioans.

This started on Jan. 10 when the Ohio Conservative Energy Forum, an advocacy group, published poll results showing that a majority of self-identified Ohio conservatives are in favor of policies that support wind, solar and other renewable energy sources.

Two days later, House Majority Leader Bill Seitz, R-Cincinnati, sent a mass email criticizing the poll. He is a leading critic of renewable-energy mandates and subsidies.

“The wind lobby is ramping up its minions to tout a new ‘statewide poll’… purporting to show that conservatives ‘overwhelmingly support clean energy policies,’” he said.

He described the group as ‘astroturf,’ a derisive term for an organization that is concealing ulterior motives.

…The Ohio Conservative Energy Forum, the group behind the poll, is led by Mike Hartley, a lobbyist who has worked on Republican campaigns for decades, including those of U.S. Rep. Steve Stivers, R-Upper Arlington, and Gov. John Kasich. The group started in 2015 and says it supports all forms of energy, from traditional Ohio sources, such as coal, to renewable sources, such as wind and solar.

On Monday, Hartley sent an open letter to Ohio General Assembly members in response to Seitz’s message.

“It is unfortunate that Rep. Seitz has chosen to assert that this poll and my efforts to promote it are part of some sort of liberal plot. But I am encouraged and empowered by my fellow conservatives to continue pushing for the economic benefits that await Ohio when we embrace forward-looking clean energy policy.”

— Dan Gearino, Columbus Dispatch