The Ohio Legislature was still focused on the state operating budget during the month of May. There has been little other activity at the Statehouse during the month, particularly in the advanced energy fields.
Below is a summary of new and pending legislation at the state and federal level that may be of interest to the advanced energy community.
House Bill 231 and Senate Bill 170: Both chambers of the Ohio Legislature have introduced bills to change Lake Erie water-use rights. Representative Lynn Wachtmann (R-Napoleon) and Senator Tim Grendell (R-Chesterland) have introduced companion bills that establish a system for the issuance of permits for pulling water from Lake Erie. Referencing the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact, the bills require the legislature to pass any rules set to enforce that compact in Ohio.
The bill requires the Department of Natural Resources to establish criteria for the issuance of withdraw and consumptive water permits, and applicants shall obtain the license if they meet the following criteria:
- The facility has a new or increased capacity for withdrawals and consumptive uses from Lake Erie or a river or stream under the influence of Lake Erie of at least five million gallons per day averaged over a ninety-day period.
- Except as provided in division (A)(3) of this section, the facility has a new or increased capacity for withdrawals and consumptive uses from any river or stream other than a river or stream under the influence of Lake Erie or from ground water in the Lake Erie watershed of at least two million gallons per day averaged over a ninety-day period.
The facility has a new or increased capacity for withdrawals and consumptive uses of at least three hundred thousand gallons per day averaged over a ninety-day period from any river or stream to which both of the following apply:
- The river or stream is high-quality water.
- The river or stream has a drainage area of less than one hundred square miles measured at the point where the withdrawal or consumptive use occurs.
The bills were just introduced and waiting for assignment to their respective natural resources committees.
Updates on Pending Legislation
House Concurrent Resolution 12: HCR 12 is a non-binding resolution intended to send a message to the President of the United States from the Ohio Legislature. Introduced by first-term Representative Andy Thompson (R-Marietta), the resolution proposes, “To urge the administration of President Barack Obama to reconsider proposals to increase taxes on producers of coal, natural gas and petroleum, and instead commit to adopting policies that encourage domestic production of these important resources.” The resolution has been reported out of the House Agriculture and Natural Resources committee and will be sent to the full House of Representatives for a vote.
House Bill 153: The budget bill was introduced in March of this year and passed the Ohio House of Representatives on May 5, 2011. The bill is now receiving hearings in the Ohio Senate.
Ohio's U.S. Senators were split on S.940, the Close Big Oil Tax Loopholes Act, which would have ended tax breaks for the most profitable oil companies: BP, ExxonMobil, Shell, Chevron and ConocoPhillips. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) voted in favor of the bill, and Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) voted against it. The Democratic-sponsored bill required 60 votes to pass, but garnered only 52 votes. The vote was mostly along partisan lines, with all but three Democratic senators voting for the bill. Only two Republicans voted in favor of the proposal: Susan Collins (R-ME) and Olympia Snowe (R-ME). The bill would have raised an estimated $21 billion over five years that would have been earmarked for federal deficit reduction.