Ohio Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ed FitzGerald thinks the infamous Koch brothers are making a mess in his state.
The Ohio Legislature and Gov. John Kasich drew national headlines last week when they moved to halt their state’s renewable energy mandates — the first such renewable energy roll-back nationally, according to the New York Times. Now, FitzGerald, Kasich’s Democratic opponent, is coming out swinging.
“It’s a big deal,” FitzGerald declared when he visited Business Insider’s office Friday. “The state has made some real strides. Back in 2008, we passed some pretty sweeping renewable energy standards that passed really almost unanimously … We now have the dubious distinction of the first state in the country that is basically killing off renewable and sustainable energy standards.”
FitzGerald, the executive of Cleveland-based Cuyahoga County, connected the legislature’s temporary freeze of Ohio’s mandates to the political influence of the Koch brothers — billionaires Charles and David Koch, of Koch Industries — and other energy-related special interests.
“We live in a country where it’s not just a show of hands, unfortunately; some people have bigger hands than others. There aren’t that many people who are against it. If you poll it, you’ll see that overwhelmingly people are in favour it. But, look let’s just get real here: The Koch brothers aren’t. And they spoke out about this … They have spent money in Ohio before and I think that they will again. And their influence is being felt,” said FitzGerald.
FitzGerald directly accused Kasich of only supporting the bill out of the hope that the Kochs would launch an independent expenditure on behalf of the Republican’s re-election campaign.
“Look, he’s not going to say why he’s for it,” said FitzGerald, arguing the two-year freeze was on the path to becoming a permanent blow against wind and solar energy in his state. “Why do I think he’s for it? It doesn’t make any sense … unless you factor in money.”
Reached for comment, a spokesman for Kasich’s campaign said the legislation wasn’t what “everyone wanted,” but the governor was committed to a middle-of-the-road approach on energy mandates. The Kasich campaign didn’t address FitzGerald, who according to polls has an uphill fight for victory in Novmber, by name.
“Ohio needs more renewable and alternative energy sources and it needs a strong system to support them as they get started. It’s naïve, however, to think that government could create that system perfectly the first time and never have to check back to see if everything’s ok,” the spokesman, Robert Nichols, told Business Insider in a statement. “After a lot of hard work we’ve got a solid plan to examine the progress Ohio has made while also holding onto that progress. We rejected the efforts by those who’d like to kill renewable energy and energy efficiency efforts altogether and instead we’re moving forward in a balanced way that supports renewable energy while also preserving the economic recovery that’s created more than 250,000 jobs. “
Nichols went on to suggest the fact Kasich’s energy legislation has all critics on all sides proved it was balanced.
“It’s not what everyone wanted,” Nichols continued, “which probably means we came down at the right spot and the governor looks forward to signing the bill.”
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