US EPA chief touts clean energy amid pushback from states

By John Seewer, Associated Press

Ohio and other states that are pushing back against clean energy are missing a chance to add jobs and revive their economy, the head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said Thursday.

PERRYSBURG, Ohio (AP) — Ohio and other states that are pushing back against clean energy are missing a chance to add jobs and revive their economy, the head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said Thursday.

EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy said moving toward solar and wind energy is not just good for the environment.

"People need to understand clean energy is here," she said while touring a solar plant near Toledo, where about 6,000 people in the region work in the industry. "It's growing jobs, it's creating innovation."

Ohio is one of two dozen states challenging President Barack Obama's Clean Power Plan, which aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions at existing power plants.

Mike DeWine, the state's attorney general, argues the plan would dramatically increase electric rates and make service less reliable.

States and utilities that rely heavily on coal think the changes will force coal companies to shut down plants and cost thousands of mining jobs.

Ohio also has put a freeze on government requirements meant to boost the use of solar, wind and other forms of renewable energy by power companies in the state.

A legislative panel last fall recommended an indefinite suspension of the requirements that were intended to force utilities to generate 25 percent of electricity from alternative and advanced sources by 2025.

Gov. John Kasich has said continuing the freeze isn't acceptable, but he also doesn't support the 25 percent mandate, urging lawmakers to come up with a compromise.

McCarthy said while there are utilities fighting Obama's clean energy proposals, many now are incorporating solar, wind and other renewable energy sources into their system.

Even those that are against the president's plan, she said, are figuring out how to use renewable energy.

"This is a not a painful exercise to move toward clean energy," she said. "Renewables deserve to be treated as a utility source."

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