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Tribal advocates keep up legal pressure for fair political maps; 12-member jury sworn in for Trump's historic criminal trial; the importance of healthcare decision planning; and a debt dilemma: poll shows how many people wrestle with college costs.

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Civil rights activists say a court ruling could end the right to protest in three southern states, a federal judge lets January 6th lawsuits proceed against former President Trump, and police arrest dozens at a Columbia University Gaza protest.

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Rural Wyoming needs more vocational teachers to sustain its workforce pipeline, Ohio environmental advocates fear harm from a proposal to open 40-thousand forest acres to fracking and rural communities build bike trail systems to promote nature, boost the economy.

New Attempt to Keep Ohio Clean Energy Standards on Ice

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Thursday, April 21, 2016   

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Ohio's freeze of its energy efficiency and renewable energy standards could stay on ice.

The initial two-year pause came in 2014, when opponents argued that the standards were too costly to implement, and now draft legislation calls for another three years.

The proposal is being circulated by state Sen. Bill Seitz (R-Cincinnati), who cites the confusion over conflicting mandates with a federal court case challenging the implementation of the Clean Power Plan.

But Dave Rinebolt, executive director of Ohio Partners for Affordable Energy, counters that it's been demonstrated that Ohio's clean energy standards would help the state comply with the federal standards to reduce carbon emissions.

"There seems to be ideological opposition to the Clean Power Plan,” he states. “And in fact, the proposed legislation changes the standards in such a way that it would reduce their ability to help us comply with the Clean Power Plan."

Ohio's clean energy standards require utilities to reduce customers' power use by 22 percent and get 25 percent of their power from renewable sources by 2025.

Environmental, business and faith leaders held a Statehouse rally Wednesday, calling for the freeze to be lifted.

The groups contend the standards are needed to reduce dangerous emissions that threaten public health.

Rinebolt adds that utility companies recognize the value in energy efficiency programs, and notes three of four electric utilities in Ohio continued their programs despite the freeze.

"If the freeze were extended, it doesn't support those utilities,” he points out. “It makes it harder for those utilities to take the least-cost options that would most benefit your average ratepayer."

Rinebolt adds that the clean energy standards would help boost programs that help homeowners save energy and lower utility bills.

"Energy efficiency and weatherization services are critical to low-income families, and we've been very successful at working with the utilities,” he stresses. “We want the state government to promote the policies that will let us help more Ohioans afford their energy bills."

A 2015 report from Policy Matters Ohio found that investments in low-income weatherization programs in Ohio dropped nearly a quarter after the standards were suspended.





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