Ohio lawmakers shouldn’t ban Lakewood’s clean energy plan: Meghan F. George and Tristan Rader
LAKEWOOD, Ohio – As we work to overcome the COVID-19 pandemic and look to the future together, the city of Lakewood is focused on another challenge that will require our collective efforts: protecting our environment. We are proud that Lakewood is one of the cities in our state and nation leading the charge of this important responsibility. However, stewardship of the environment, and with it the use of clean energy, is not just a responsibility; this presents a huge opportunity.
In 2019, Lakewood City Council passed a resolution setting a goal for all facilities in the city to transition to fully clean energy by 2025, and for the entire community to transition by 2035. Lakewood was Ohio’s first suburb and third largest city, after Cleveland and Cincinnati, to pass such a resolution. Using these ambitious but achievable goals as a framework, City Council has launched sustainable initiatives to create local jobs, reduce air pollution and save our citizens money.
One of these initiatives involves the recent installation and interconnection of solar panels on several of our buildings, producing electricity for several facilities in the city. Locally produced energy allows Lakewood to reduce operating costs and push us towards better energy consumption practices. Lakewood is also in the final stages of securing clean energy contracts for all of the town’s facilities. Plus, installing and converting to LED street lights will dramatically reduce power consumption, light pollution, and tens of thousands of dollars in costs every year.
Our urban canopy is also a priority, and we are proud to boast of the success of the Town Forestry Unit, which is working to increase the town’s tree cover and plans to plant another 400 trees throughout Lakewood in 2021. We have also invested tens of millions of dollars in the Clean Water Lakewood initiative to restore our Rocky River and Lake Erie borders to their pristine natural beauty.
With all we have accomplished, Lakewood is ready for the next step in the clean energy process – a city-wide climate action plan that will bring together our environmental goals, initiatives and projects into one document. full. Drawing lessons from the experience of other local governments, this plan will guide Lakewood’s climate response and carbon policy for many years through sequential steps on a workable timeframe.
While we are filled with hope and optimism about the work our city is putting into its green initiatives, we are concerned about the recent legislation that was introduced in the Ohio Legislature.
Ohio House Bill 192 would restrict the ability of municipalities to limit fossil fuel use and promote clean energy in their communities. This bill flies in the face of municipal autonomy and common sense climate reform and would undo much of the work the city has already invested in its environmental initiatives.
Lakewood was incorporated as a town over 100 years ago, but this legislation backed by special interests of the coal, oil and gas downstate attempts to interfere with the principle of local government self-determination. . Worse yet, these vested interests have openly admitted that their regressive legislation is meant to deprive local communities like Lakewood of deciding our own future.
The facts cannot be denied: clean energy is cheaper and more popular, and more and more widely available. And, contrary to popular belief, it provides stable jobs for those coming out of the fossil fuel industry. Lakewood, like other communities around the world, is working harder than ever to move forward on clean energy and the protection and preservation of our environment. We will do all we can to ensure that Lakewood continues to move forward on these topics effectively and efficiently and to lead the way for other communities.
Meghan F. George is the mayor of Lakewood and Tristan Rader is a regular member of Lakewood City Council.
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