Passage of SB 310 by the Ohio Legislature and Governor Kasich not only freezes renewable energy and energy efficiency standards for two years, it freezes democracy.
Citizens want cleaner air and water. Ratepayers want to save money paying for electricity. The existing energy standards accomplished both, but corporations want more profits.
Utility corporations lobbied state legislators hard, including FirstEnergy Corporation. And rather than invest in wind, solar and other cleaner and cheaper long-term renewable energy alternatives, utility corporations decided it was easier and more profitable to “invest” in politicians via campaign cash. Utility corporations invested reportedly $694,000 in Ohio legislators. The six-co-sponsors of SB 310 received $141,200 alone in campaign cash from FirstEnergy. Who can blame them? Utility corporations wanted to change the law. Compliant politicians were more than willing to take the cash since ever-growing sums of money are needed from corporations and wealthy individuals to be “viable” candidates.
The issues, corporations and politicians change but the narrative remains exactly the same: Public representatives are more responsive to the special interests of corporations and wealthy corporations than to the general public thanks to big money pouring in to their campaign treasuries – directly and/or indirectly.
Only by amending our Constitution to end the bizarre doctrines that corporations are “persons” and money equals speech can we hope to bring what’s little left of our democracy out of the deep freeze.
Coleridge is director of the Northeast Ohio American Friends Service Committee.