Trump, city admin changes spur Oberlin environmental ballot push

By Evan Goodenow -



The fight over Renewable Energy Credit profits has rekindled.

The credits are pollution offsets sold by Oberlin Municipal Light and Power System to out-of-state utilities allowing those utilities to meet stricter environmental standards without actually reducing pollution.

In June, a divided city council approved rebating $2.2 million of the $2.6 million in credit profits — 85 percent — to customers beginning next year. The remainder goes to OMLPS’ sustainable reserve program, which promotes conservation and energy efficiency.

In August, a paperwork error derailed a ballot initiative that called for spending all profits on conservation and energy efficiency through the program. On Monday, John Elder of Communities for Safe and Sustainable Energy told city council that another initiative is planned for the November 2017 ballot.

Elder noted much has changed since June. Steve Dupee, who would’ve decided how program money was spent and supported the 85-15 percent split, quit as OMLPS electric director to become Wellington village manager this month. Rob Hillard, who pledged one of his main goals was environmental sustainability, took over this month as city manager.

Elder said the biggest change was the election of President Donald Trump, a climate-change denier who has has promised to overturn many clean air and water protections and nominated climate change skeptic Scott Pruitt to head the federal Environmental Protection Agency.

Pruitt is a longtime EPA critic. Since taking office in 2011 as Oklahoma attorney general, Pruitt has joined lawsuits to roll back EPA protections against arsenic and mercury power plant emissions and laws reducing smog and soot that crosses state lines.

Elder said Oberlin won’t get any help with its environmental initiatives, such as the Climate Action Plan, from the Trump administration. The plan calls for reducing Oberlin’s carbon emissions — which cause global warming — by 75 percent by 2030 and 100 percent by 2050.

President Barack Obama’s Democratic administration in 2011 named the plan as one of 16 initiatives nationally that would receive priority for federal taxpayer money. With Republicans controlling the White House, House of Representatives, and Senate next year, Elder said the need for all of the credit profits to go for conservation and efficiency is paramount.

“Federal funding for environmental sustainability is almost certain to dry up,” Elder said. “It will be up to local communities to salvage what they can and finding money to move ahead on such ambitious goals as the city of Oberlin Climate Action Plan will be more challenging than ever.”

Evan Goodenow can be reached at 440-775-1611 or @GoodenowNews on Twitter.


By Evan Goodenow