Ohio State Senator Bill Seitz (R-Cincinnati) compared a policy promoting renewable energy to Soviet Communism on Wednesday, calling it “some Stalinist government mandating, ‘You must buy my stuff,’” reported Columbus Business First Reporter Tom Knox. And it’s not the first time he’s referred to the brutal 20th-century dictator when talking about a 2008 policy that requires utilities to provide 25 percent of their electricity from renewable sources by 2025. In March, Seitz said the renewable energy standard reminds him of “Joseph Stalin’s five-year plan.”
Seitz was speaking at a hearing on Senate Bill 34, which would totally repeal the standard that Ohio legislators passed, and then-Governor Ted Strickland signed in 2008. Current Governor John Kasich (R-OH) has not said whether he supports the bill, and did not respond to a request for comment. Senator Kris Jordan (R-Ostrander), the sponsor of the bill, and Seitz are both members of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), an organization funded by fossil fuel companies, corporate interests, and the ultra-conservative Koch brothers that pushes controversial far-right policies at the local level, including Stand Your Ground laws, attacks on minimum wage laws, and school privatization.
ALEC spent much of 2013 trying to repeal state clean energy laws like Ohio’s, and failed miserably. But they’re still at it. Seitz sponsored a bill that would have only weakened Ohio’s renewable requirement in 2013, but it didn’t get enough support to move forward. So he’s shifted support to full repeal.
Opposition to the renewable standard doesn’t seem to reach much deeper than the Stalin comparisons. Since 2008, Ohio has added 8,000 new jobs in wind and solar, and efficiency programs have saved $1 billion for rate-payers. The standard has resulted in more than 1,000 renewable energy projects across the state, according to the Ohio Public Utilities Commission. A group of 2,000 veterans, military family members, and supporters came together to oppose the last attack on the standard, and a renewable standard is highly popular among Ohio voters.