Despite an overwhelming majority of citizen testimony in opposition last year, the Ohio Legislature passed HB 6 to bill ratepayers to subsidize two nuclear plants and two coal-fired plants. The bill also halted Ohio’s renewable energy standards and phased out the energy conservation programs through which families across the state and many Episcopal churches have been helped to reduce their electricity consumption and bills.
This year the FBI charged Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder and three other defendants in a $61 million dollar corruption scheme that lubricated Householder’s election as Speaker and the passage of this bailout. Many legislators of both parties received contributions from First Energy. Following the passage of the bill last year, citizens launched a petition drive to repeal the law but this was destroyed by a massive disinformation campaign plus bribery or intimidation of petition circulators. The FBI criminal complaint lays out how the anti-repeal campaign was also funded by dark money under the Householder-First Energy scheme.
In response to the scandal, Householder lost his position as Speaker. The new House Speaker, Bob Cuff, has created a Select Committee on Energy Policy and Oversight to consider repealing the bill. Twelve of the fifteen members have received contributions from First Energy during their political career. We suggest you write a letter and send it to each member of the committee with your views on HB 6.
Many people of faith call for a complete repeal of HB 6. We see it as undermining creation care and environmental justice because it forces Ohio ratepayers to pay to subsidize fossil fuel energy generation which is already more expensive than renewable. Emissions from coal-fired plants have serious human health effects that disproportionately harm the poor who are more likely to live near the plants.
For more background, see the FBI criminal complaint, an infographic summarizing it from the Ohio Center for Investigative Journalism, and an interactive map by the Akron Beacon Journal of how the dark money was used in legislative districts across the state.
Ariel Miller of Ascension & Holy Trinity, Wyoming, is a social justice advocate and a member of the diocesan Becoming Beloved Community Leadership Team.