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In the USA State of Ohio, pro nuclear legislation is helped along by misinformation on renewable energy

How misinformation propped up Ohio lawmakers’ latest attack on renewables

Unsupported and misleading statements were the “means to the end” for a bill to cripple new solar and wind energy in Ohio, critics say.
by Kathiann M. Kowalski July 7, 2021 

False and unsubstantiated claims about renewable energy have flourished for years, but critics say different forms of misinformation played a big role in Ohio lawmakers’ latest move to stifle the growth of wind and solar energy.

“Misinformation is the means to the end,” said Trish Demeter, chief of staff for the Ohio Environmental Council Action Fund. “Misinformation, bad information, misconstrued information, partial information: All of those are tactics that are supporting the goal, which is to block and kill renewable energy from being built in Ohio.”

Senate Bill 52 would let counties keep out new solar and wind farms from all or part of their territories, holding those projects to a higher standard than fossil fuel infrastructure. 

In contrast, SB 52 would let counties prevent or limit any particular solar or wind project within their borders. Passed in the wee hours of June 29 with some changes from earlier versions, SB 52 still gives local governments multiple chances to nix renewable energy projects or break them up. Counties and local townships also would get two votes on Ohio Power Siting Board decisions for those projects.

At a minimum, SB 52 extends project timelines and adds uncertainty that critics say will discourage developers from choosing Ohio for renewable energy projects, causing the state to lose out on thousands of jobs.

Beyond that, it would let local governments restrict property owners’ rights to enter into lease agreements. And its restrictions apply only to renewable energy — not fossil fuel projects.

Lawmakers and SB 52 supporters used misinformation in multiple ways to move the bill forward, according to critics. In their view, even if the same outcome would have resulted anyway, playing fast and loose with facts makes it harder to hold politicians accountable for actions that discourage or disadvantage renewables.

“We are reviewing the bill and do not have an estimated timeline for executive action,” DeWine spokesperson Dan Tierney said on Tuesday afternoon.

Shifting themes

“It’s a real challenge in Ohio with disinformation,” said Andrew Gohn, director of eastern state affairs for American Clean Power. For years, the industry association has seen a lot of misinformation about wind turbines and alleged health impacts.

“There was never any health evidence to support those claims,” Gohn said.

For SB 52 in Ohio, Gohn noted that proponents’ testimony included false statements aimed at splintering support for renewable projects. “It definitely strikes me as a pernicious kind of misinformation,” Gohn said.

As one example, Gohn noted baseless claims by some bill supporters that solar arrays could contaminate soil with chemicals such as lead or cadmium. But crystalline cadmium telluride, used in some solar panels, is not the same as free cadmium. Studies on simulated landfill conditions or hypotheticals about new solar panels in development don’t address real-world conditions when panels are in use. And manufacturing processes encapsulate active layers of photovoltaic cells in any event.

Solar panels “are 100% fully sealed. There’s nothing in there that can leak,” said Jason Rafeld, executive director of the Utility Scale Solar Energy Coalition of Ohio. In a similar vein, he said, none of the supporting structures for solar farms are deep enough to affect groundwater. 

“These kinds of myths? They’re not myths,” Rafeld said. “They’re blatant lies, or they’re at least misinformation that gets out there.” Such statements make it harder for developers to address reasonable questions people may have about efforts to grow Ohio’s solar energy industry, he said.

Other misinformation downplays the ability of solar and wind farms to produce substantial amounts of electricity…………………….

July 10, 2021 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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