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This state just added a harmful, polluting gas to its list of 'clean energy' sources — here's how it happened

Dirty energy sources, including methane gas, release an excessive amount of heat-trapping gases.

Bill 507 Ohio methane natural gas energy

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A recent law passed in Ohio has purposefully mislabeled natural (methane) gas as "green energy," undermining efforts to move the state away from this dirty fuel, Grid News reported.

What happened?

In December, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine adopted House Bill 507. According to Grid News, this law officially classifies methane gas as green energy — despite the fact that methane gas is a dirty energy source like coal and oil. 

Grid News also reports that at least part of the bill's support came from The Empowerment Alliance, a group the outlet says has ties to a past bribery scandal surrounding Ohio House Bill 6. That bill also worked against providing residents with cleaner, cheaper energy in favor of expensive, polluting dirty energy sources.

Why is Ohio House Bill 507 a problem?

Dirty energy sources, including methane gas, release an excessive amount of heat-trapping gases like carbon dioxide when burnt, so they contribute to the increase in the Earth's temperature, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. 

While the EIA also notes that methane gas releases less carbon dioxide than other dirty energy sources, like coal, it is still responsible for more than a third of the heat-trapping gases from generating energy in the U.S. each year. 

Since 2015's Paris Agreement — an international treaty meant to stop rising temperatures worldwide — governments across the globe have been working to reduce their production of heat-trapping gases. 

This is why many laws around the world are currently being adopted that promote "green energy" or "clean energy" sources that don't release heat-trapping gases. 

Solar, wind, and hydropower are all clean energy sources, and they all tend to be less expensive than dirty energy sources. Some can even make you money.

By adopting laws that support green energy and reduce dirty energy usage, country and state governments can reduce the local production of heat-trapping gases and help cool down our communities. For example, France is debating legislation that would require outdoor parking lots to put up solar panels, reducing the country's need for dirty energy.

But Ohio House Bill 507 creates a major loophole. Now, methane gas will be treated the same as actual clean energy sources like wind and solar in the state. 

Depending on how other laws are written, restrictions on dirty energy and heat-trapping gases might no longer apply to methane gas. Meanwhile, programs that were supposed to support green energy development might now be misused to promote this dirty energy source. 

What can I do to help?

Whenever a bill like this passes, it's a call for residents to participate in local politics and support better laws. 

Individuals can also choose clean energy sources or eco-friendlier options, such as driving an electric car, taking public transit, installing home solar panels, partaking in a community solar program, or electrifying any aspect of their home. As an added bonus, all of these lifestyle changes and home upgrades will actually decrease your overall cost of living. 

If initial cost is a barrier, companies like Arcadia and Solar Holler make solar energy affordable for families who otherwise wouldn't be able to make the switch.

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