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Environmental Advocates Say Pandemic and State Lawmakers Hindering Clean Energy Industry

Photo of solar panels
Sergey Edentod
Environmental advocates say state legislators are hindering the clean energy industry by making it harder for wind and solar projects to get community approval, among other efforts.

The clean energy industry lost more than 10,000 jobs in Ohio in the last year. While industry experts say the pandemic is partly to blame, it’s not the only thing hindering progress with clean energy.

The 2020 Clean Jobs Midwest report from the groups Environmental Entrepreneurs and Clean Energy Trust finds growth in the transportation sector with a move toward electric vehicles. They are optimistic about investment from the federal spending bill passed in the Senate this week. But, they say Ohio leaders continue to create challenges for clean energy. In a webinar event, founder of NXTGEN Clean Energy Solutions Russ Bates says one example is with permitting renewable energy projects.

“A job we could start literally within two or three months takes six months, takes 12 months, takes two years in some cases and longer, and sometimes they’re not even permitted,” Bates said.

They also pointed to a recently approved law that makes it harder for wind and solar projects to get community approval.

Micaela Preskill, a Midwest states advocate at Environmental Entrepreneurs, says it’s time for lawmakers to step up.

Preskill: calling on lawmakers

“States should see this opportunity to leverage federal action to go even further and get more accomplished. Strong state policy now combined with federal support is a combination that will really catalyze further growth, and I think we’ll be looking to Midwest states to really lead the way,” Preskill said.

The report finds growth in the electric car industry and encourages funding for clean energy workforce training.

Kelsey Paulus is a Junior studying journalism at Kent State University. She is pursuing her Bachelor’s Degree in journalism with a minor in design. Along with interning for WKSU, Kelsey is also a co-producer of TV2’s kentcore and a designer for A Magazine. She is an aspiring music journalist and hopes to work in the magazine industry someday.