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Ohio, the state where a river caught fire at least 12 times, just voted to protect oil

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The Ohio House has voted on a bill to ensure that the state cannot ban gas-powered vehicles, protecting pollution in a state that has one of the worst environmental legacies in the US.

One of the biggest environmental stories in the history of the US was when the Cuyahoga river, which runs through Akron and Cleveland, caught fire in 1969 when an oil slick on the water was set ablaze, damaging a railroad bridge.

The fire made headlines and news spread across the country, and the story in some ways sparked the national environmental movement. But that’s not the only time the river caught fire – it burned at least a dozen times before that, due to constant oil slicks on the river.

Despite that wake-up call, things haven’t improved much for Ohio since then. The state ranks 46th in air pollution and 48th in toxic pollutants, and 42nd place in life expectancy, its residents dying more than 4 years earlier than those of California, New York and Hawaii.

And now, Ohio House republicans are expanding on that terrible environmental legacy by passing a bill that ensures the state won’t ban gas-powered vehicles, which are broadly responsible for poor air quality and significant health harms across the US. The bill specifically stops Ohio from adopting California’s “Advanced Clean Cars II” regulation, or any regulation which would be stronger than federal standards, even though nobody was proposing adoption of those standards. It passed 70-23, with all 65 republicans and 5 Democrats voting in favor.

As is common with republican policymaking, the bill does not have a lot of substance to it. The relevant section is only 10 lines long, and does not make any attempt to lay out the reasons or backing for its existence (compare to California’s thousands of pages of scientific documents and analysis backing its regulation).

The bill’s reasoning is backwards

The best “reasoning” we can find are a series of quotes from state republicans, quoted by WOUB, Ohio University’s public broadcaster.

One particularly ridiculous quote is from Representative Bill Seitz (R-Cincinnati), who says EVs would “socialize the price of recharging an EV while keeping the benefits private.” This runs counter to reality, where in actual fact, gas-powered vehicles impose significant health costs which are not paid for by the private car users burning that gasoline.

These socialized costs of gasoline total up to $7 trillion globally over the course of a year, and $760 billion in the US alone – costs which Seitz wants you to keep paying in the form of health bills forced on you by the poisonous fossil fuels he’s voted to support.

Seitz was also a co-sponsor of Ohio’s House Bill 6. Described as the “worst energy bill of the 21st century,” it raised energy prices to pay for a corrupt bailout of energy companies. It was passed after bribes to state republicans and led to a racketeering conviction for republican former Ohio House speaker Larry Householder. That bill extended subsidies to coal plants which continue to cost Ohioans hundreds of millions of dollars, socializing the costs of dirty pollution on both the front end through direct subsidy and the back end through higher health costs. So we hardly think that Seitz is genuinely interested in reducing costs to Ohioans.

What happens next

Ohio is not content to harm its own residents’ health, it’s also trying to harm the health of those outside of Ohio. In September, Ohio republicans championed a bill which passed in the US House of Representatives which would force California to have worse pollution standards. But that bill didn’t go anywhere – Senate Democrats, and President Joe Biden, aren’t outwardly hostile to human life like republicans are, and were not interested in passing such legislation.

But the Ohio bill might actually make progress, particularly due to Ohio’s unconstitutionally-gerrymandered district maps which give the environment-hostile republican party large majorities in its statehouse. It moves on to the state Senate next, and if it passes through the Senate, on to republican Governor DeWine’s desk.

But in the end, this bill probably won’t do much. The state wasn’t planning to adopt California’s regulations anyway, so this is just an example of Ohio House republicans showing everyone who they are. Whenever they’re given a chance – even when it’s not even a question anyone is asking – they’ll side against people and in favor of pollution. We’ve seen this before from the national republican party, too – it’s kind of a pattern.

What the bill might do, though, is signal to EV companies that their investment dollars are not welcome in Ohio. There are currently hundreds of billions of dollars being invested across the country into green jobs. Ohio has already seen some of that money, with Honda investing over $4 billion in the state to build up EV jobs, and is moving forward with installing DC fast chargers with federal money, despite being an EV laggard (perhaps due to one of the highest dumb EV fees in the nation, at $200/year).

Actions like this could make the state less attractive for future investment, as we’ve noted about other states’ anti-EV efforts. This was pointed out by Rep. Michele Grim (D-Toledo), who said “it signals those who want to invest their valuable dollars in clean energy and electric vehicle development that Ohio is not welcome to those investments. We should instead be taking steps to make sure Ohio is a more attractive state for clean energy job creation.”

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The Ohio House has voted on a bill to ensure that the state cannot ban gas-powered vehicles, protecting pollution in a state that has one of the worst environmental legacies in the US.

One of the biggest environmental stories in the history of the US was when the Cuyahoga river, which runs through Akron and Cleveland, caught fire in 1969 when an oil slick on the water was set ablaze, damaging a railroad bridge.

The fire made headlines and news spread across the country, and the story in some ways sparked the national environmental movement. But that’s not the only time the river caught fire – it burned at least a dozen times before that, due to constant oil slicks on the river.

Despite that wake-up call, things haven’t improved much for Ohio since then. The state ranks 46th in air pollution and 48th in toxic pollutants, and 42nd place in life expectancy, its residents dying more than 4 years earlier than those of California, New York and Hawaii.

And now, Ohio House republicans are expanding on that terrible environmental legacy by passing a bill that ensures the state won’t ban gas-powered vehicles, which are broadly responsible for poor air quality and significant health harms across the US. The bill specifically stops Ohio from adopting California’s “Advanced Clean Cars II” regulation, or any regulation which would be stronger than federal standards, even though nobody was proposing adoption of those standards. It passed 70-23, with all 65 republicans and 5 Democrats voting in favor.

As is common with republican policymaking, the bill does not have a lot of substance to it. The relevant section is only 10 lines long, and does not make any attempt to lay out the reasons or backing for its existence (compare to California’s thousands of pages of scientific documents and analysis backing its regulation).

The bill’s reasoning is backwards

The best “reasoning” we can find are a series of quotes from state republicans, quoted by WOUB, Ohio University’s public broadcaster.

One particularly ridiculous quote is from Representative Bill Seitz (R-Cincinnati), who says EVs would “socialize the price of recharging an EV while keeping the benefits private.” This runs counter to reality, where in actual fact, gas-powered vehicles impose significant health costs which are not paid for by the private car users burning that gasoline.

These socialized costs of gasoline total up to $7 trillion globally over the course of a year, and $760 billion in the US alone – costs which Seitz wants you to keep paying in the form of health bills forced on you by the poisonous fossil fuels he’s voted to support.

Seitz was also a co-sponsor of Ohio’s House Bill 6. Described as the “worst energy bill of the 21st century,” it raised energy prices to pay for a corrupt bailout of energy companies. It was passed after bribes to state republicans and led to a racketeering conviction for republican former Ohio House speaker Larry Householder. That bill extended subsidies to coal plants which continue to cost Ohioans hundreds of millions of dollars, socializing the costs of dirty pollution on both the front end through direct subsidy and the back end through higher health costs. So we hardly think that Seitz is genuinely interested in reducing costs to Ohioans.

What happens next

Ohio is not content to harm its own residents’ health, it’s also trying to harm the health of those outside of Ohio. In September, Ohio republicans championed a bill which passed in the US House of Representatives which would force California to have worse pollution standards. But that bill didn’t go anywhere – Senate Democrats, and President Joe Biden, aren’t outwardly hostile to human life like republicans are, and were not interested in passing such legislation.

But the Ohio bill might actually make progress, particularly due to Ohio’s unconstitutionally-gerrymandered district maps which give the environment-hostile republican party large majorities in its statehouse. It moves on to the state Senate next, and if it passes through the Senate, on to republican Governor DeWine’s desk.

But in the end, this bill probably won’t do much. The state wasn’t planning to adopt California’s regulations anyway, so this is just an example of Ohio House republicans showing everyone who they are. Whenever they’re given a chance – even when it’s not even a question anyone is asking – they’ll side against people and in favor of pollution. We’ve seen this before from the national republican party, too – it’s kind of a pattern.

What the bill might do, though, is signal to EV companies that their investment dollars are not welcome in Ohio. There are currently hundreds of billions of dollars being invested across the country into green jobs. Ohio has already seen some of that money, with Honda investing over $4 billion in the state to build up EV jobs, and is moving forward with installing DC fast chargers with federal money, despite being an EV laggard (perhaps due to one of the highest dumb EV fees in the nation, at $200/year).

Actions like this could make the state less attractive for future investment, as we’ve noted about other states’ anti-EV efforts. This was pointed out by Rep. Michele Grim (D-Toledo), who said “it signals those who want to invest their valuable dollars in clean energy and electric vehicle development that Ohio is not welcome to those investments. We should instead be taking steps to make sure Ohio is a more attractive state for clean energy job creation.”

FTC: We use income earning auto affiliate links. More.

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