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Environmental legislation bad for Ohio

There is a gathering storm on the horizon for Ohio — a storm that could deal a destructive blow to our state’s already struggling economy and your quality of life.

In its wake, Ohioans could see the loss of thousands of good-paying jobs, shocking increases in natural gas, electricity and gasoline prices and pocket-numbing decreases in household incomes.

This storm comes in the form of current legislative efforts in Washington to mandate massive reductions in emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.

As ranking member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Clean Air and Nuclear Safety, I am at the center of this debate, and I believe Ohioans should pay close attention. The decisions made could result in the most massive bureaucratic intrusion into the lives of Americans since the creation of the Internal Revenue Service.

I have long championed harmonizing our economic, energy and environmental needs. I did so as mayor of Cleveland and governor of Ohio and had great success bringing both sides to the table for the betterment of Ohio and the nation.

That is why I am so committed to educating my colleagues and Ohioans about the unprecedented opportunity we have before us when it comes to crafting a comprehensive solution to climate change. We must be smart and measured in our steps forward, always keeping in mind what is best for working families, seniors and those trying to make ends meet on fixed incomes.

The smart way to go about addressing this problem isn’t through unilateral actions that would hurt our economy and drive jobs overseas. But the policy proposal now under consideration in the Senate — the Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act — would do exactly that.

A recent analysis of the bill by the Environmental Protection Agency provided a devastating critique of the policy proposal.

The impact of this legislation will be disproportionately felt by states like Ohio that depend on coal for much of their energy needs. Duke Energy, a major electricity provider in Ohio, has released data indicating that if the policy becomes effective in 2012, customers in their service area could suffer a 53 percent increase in electricity bills.

We cannot tolerate policies that harm our economy and drive business overseas to countries that do not recognize their environmental responsibilities.

That is why I am spearheading the development of an alternative solution to climate change that is less intrusive, less costly and that will achieve greater environmental benefits than the one option now before us. The smart way to address this problem is through collaborative, multinational efforts to develop and deploy the clean energy technologies that everyone recognizes as necessary to solve this global environmental problem.

In order to weather the approaching storm, we must put technology first. By working together to do so, we can truly reduce greenhouse gas emissions, move toward energy independence, create new jobs and enhance Ohio’s competitive position in the global marketplace.

George Voinovich is a member of the U.S. Senate from Ohio.