By Matt Reese
If you own land in Ohio, your rights are being taken away at the Statehouse by your elected officials with Senate Bill 52. SB 52 has passed the House (on June 28) and the Senate (on June 2).
Here is the language from the bill:
The board of county commissioners may adopt a resolution designating all or part of the unincorporated area of a county as a restricted area, prohibiting the construction of any or all of the following:
(1) An economically significant wind farm;
(2) A large wind farm;
(3) A large solar facility.
This gives county commissioners the authority to take away the rights of landowners to develop wind and solar development without the consent of those landowners. Even worse, they are not required to notify affected landowners directly. Let me reiterate, they are not asking, lawmakers who voted yes on SB 52 are TAKING.
Just about everyone loses with this one folks. If you own land in Ohio, you lose. If you like wind and solar, you lose. If you like the economic benefits of wind and solar, you lose. If you hate the proposed wind and solar projects already underway, you lose (this is not retroactive). If you are a community in Ohio, you lose too. Those who use Ohio utilities also lose.
I personally have no strong feelings about wind and solar. I fully acknowledge there are real pros and legitimate cons to wind and solar energy development. I do, however, have very strong personal feelings about the rights of Ohio landowners that are being set up to be taken away — first by state legislators who have approved this legislation and, second, by the local politicians who would be enabled to pick and choose which landowners have the chance to make the decision that all landowners in unincorporated areas currently can make.
Whether in favor of wind and solar or preserving your property rights, all Democrat Representatives voted against SB 52. In addition, the following House Republicans voted “no” on the bill and in support of rural Ohio landowner rights: Adam C. Bird (R), Ron Ferguson (R), Diane V. Grendell (R), Mark Johnson (R), Darrell Kick (R), Jennifer Gross (R), J. Kyle Koehler (R), Laura Lanese (R), Brian Stewart (R), and Jean Schmidt (R). If your state representative is a Republican not on this very short list, they voted in favor of taking away the property rights of rural Ohio landowners.
In the Senate, Matt Dolan (R), Frank Hoagland (R), Stephanie Kunze (R), and Bob Peterson (R), along with all of the Democrats voted no on SB 52. All other Senate Republicans voted “yes” to take away your rights as a landowner. These are lawmakers who claim they favor liberty and freedom with one windy breath yet vote quite the opposite with a bit of solar illumination.
The next stop for SB 52 is Governor Mike DeWine’s desk. I’m curious, rural Ohio landowners, how would you vote?