Forbes Doesn't Have a Clue About Cleveland

I'm taking a break from the typical focus of my posts to address an article that just makes me crazy.  Forbes has come out with its annual "Most Miserable City List."  Last year Forbes ranked Cleveland No.1 and this year it dropped to No.10.  This is how Forbes described this year's Cleveland ranking:

Last year's most miserable city, Cleveland, fell back to No. 10 this year despite the stomach punch delivered by LeBron James when he announced his exit from Cleveland on national television last summer. Cleveland's unemployment rate rose slightly in 2010 to an average of 9.3%, but the city's unemployment rank improved relative to other cities, thanks to soaring job losses across the U.S. Cleveland benefited from a housing market that never overheated and therefore hasn't crashed as much as many other metros. Yet Cleveland was the only city to rank in the bottom half of each of the 10 categories we considered.

First of all, I thought Forbes was considered a business magazine.  Since when does a pop culture development like a star basketball player leaving get factored its analysis?  But beyond this simple fact, Forbes has no clue as to what is happening in Cleveland right now.

There is a building boom in downtown Cleveland with over $2 billion dollars worth of construction and this construction boom is occurring during one of the toughest economies.  This new construction includes the Medical Mart and New Convention Center, Inner Belt Bridge Project, Flats East Bank Project, Aquarium, and Casino

The Cleveland Plain Dealer, a paper in my mind notorious for dwelling on negatives, had an editorial this weekend recognizing the positive developments in the Greater Cleveland region.  Those included:

• With evidence growing that manufacturing is actually leading the nation's economic recovery, unemployment in Greater Cleveland has been running a full percentage point below the national average.

• Monster.com just named Cleveland the seventh-hottest job market in the country.

• Venture capitalists poured $221 million into this region last year -- double the pace of such investments in 2009.

• The Milken Institute, a think tank that has consistently ranked Ohio among the least fertile states for innovation, just cited the state as its most improved for entrepreneurial activity.
 

Want even more indications of Cleveland's positive direction?  From reforming local government to visionary new projects, Cleveland is heading in the right direction.

  • Travel & Leisure Magazine just name Cleveland one of the most visionary cities in the world for its urban farming efforts, including its mall to greenhouse transformation.  Only two other U.S. cities were even on the list.
  • Entrepreneur magazine recently ranked Northeast Ohio as one of the hottest entrepreneurial regions.
  • There is an on-going $350 million dollar renovation of the Cleveland Museum of Art transforming it into a showplace museum.
  • Government corruption is part of the criteria Forbes reviews, but it failed to consider recent developments.  Most cities do little about corruption issues and just try and get by.  No doubt Cleveland had its issues, but in November, local voters passed a ballot measure which completely reforms local County government. 
  • Cleveland has an organized and progressive sustainability movement which is serving as a model to other Cities-  Sustainable Cleveland 2019.  Partially in recognition for these efforts, a 2008 ranking had Cleveland jumping 12 spaces to the 16th most sustainable City in the U.S. and a lot has happened since then.
  • According to U.S. News and World Report, Northeast Ohio hospitals ranked in the top 10 of 11 specialty areas, including heart, pediatrics and urology.
  • TripAdvisor.com recently cited Cleveland as one of the top 10 most underrated destinations in the world
  • Cost of Living- A family of four can enjoy amenities and attractions in Northeast Ohio, comparable to any other major city or region in the nation, and save as much as 35%.
  • Site Selection Magazine named Ohio, for the fourth year in a row, as having the most new or expanded private-sector capital projects edging out Texas for the top spot.

One of the biggest issues facing Cleveland is its own inferiority complex.  Articles likes those written by Forbes don't help to lift the region. To combat this issue, leaders organized an on-going branding effort to accentuate all the positive development in the Greater Cleveland region- Clevelandplus. (Check it out for the latest positive developments).

Before a magazine like Forbes creates a rankings that tags a city with a negative image, perhaps it could spend a little more time gathering information.  No doubt it overlooked all the recent developments I have highlighted.   

Maybe Forbes should issue a correction- Cleveland, one of the top 10 most improved Cities.  Just like Clevelanders, instead of dwelling on negatives, perhaps Forbes can start recognizing positive developments in its publication.

 

(Photo:  Innerbelt Bridge Design- ODOT webpage)

Observations on Sustainable Cleveland 2019

The Sustainable Cleveland 2019 summit was unlike any other conference or summit I had attended.  I have been to plenty where the goal was simply to raise awareness-  Typically a parade of talking heads followed up by urgent pleas to do something in the future. 

The Cleveland Summit was much different.  It took some 700 attendees who represented a cross-section of the community and put them to work on development of an strategic plan to build green jobs in Northeast Ohio. 

The process used was called "Appreciative Inquiry" (AI) which was developed by Professor Cooperrider at Case Western Reserve University.  AI has been used by businesses and even the United Nations.  AI's basic concept is that small groups put limits on development of a strategic plans. For that reason it is much better to tap into the knowledge of a large group.   

I have to say I was skeptical of the process going in.  But I was continually amazed at the number of talented people in my working groups that represented a cross-section of the community.  Here are some examples of people who sat at my tables:

  • CEOs
  • Non-profit representatives
  • Small business owners
  • Sustainability experts
  • Advocates
  • Students
  • City and County Government Officials
  • Attendees from other cities and countries

It was a great mix and cross-section of the community.  I would be lying if I didn't find some of the ideas and opinions offered to be "wild" or out of touch with reality.   There were also times when the Summit got to be a bit too much cheer-leading and not enough specific action.  However, there was no denying the energy and purpose of the group. 

There was an excellent advance briefing paper that was given to participants.  The Sustainable Cleveland briefing paper includes good information as to groups, initiatives and progress to date in Northeat Ohio on sustainability.  There were also notable speakers at the Summit.  Here are a couple thoughts or observations that I found interesting that were offered by some of the speakers:

  • Mayor Jackson's opening remarks:  He said Cleveland had made the mistake in the past of waiting to change course until the economy had improved.  He said "Cleveland won't make that mistake again" and that Cleveland will "emerge first in developing a green economy."  My comment:  I like the sentiment of not waiting, but Cleveland is already behind many other cities in moving this direction.  We have to be realistic in our assessment of where we are now to get some place in the future...
  • Van Jones of the Obama Administration:  He made the observation that everyone points to China as the example of a dirty or old style industrial economy.  He said China has seen the direction of the future economy and is spending $12 million dollars an hour on development of clean energy.  My comment:  I thought this really was a good observation that we are in a global competition of developing clean energy.
  • Dr. Peter Senge, MIT:  He made some interesting observations regarding sustainability principles.  For example, to produce a computer chip you must use 630 times the weight of the chip in materials to construct it.  That is an amazing amount of waste those goes into developing a single small product.  The observation was made to show the opportunity to reduce waste in the process thereby saving money

Overall, I thought the Summit was a testament to the a growing positive attitude in Cleveland about change. Attendees were willing to devote three days in dark hall of the Convention Center to discuss these topics and develop a plan. 

A Dose of Reality

I will conclude by making an observation regarding building success out of the Summit.  I was lucky to participate directly in the Great Lakes Regional Collaboration (GLRC).  The GLRC was a on-going process to develop a plan for protecting and cleaning up the Great Lakes. It was initiated by President Bush by Executive Order.  The idea was to follow the Florida Everglades model and secure significant funding for restoration of the Great Lakes.

The GLRC was on a scale five times the size of the Cleveland Sustainability Summit.  It involved multiple federal agencies, Indian tribes, state representatives, non-profit groups and environmental groups.

Similar to the Cleveland Sustainability Summit there was tremendous energy and optimism from the participants.  However, that optimism also led to the inclusion of some very unrealistic goals and actions in the GLRC plan for the Great Lakes.  I remember continually raising the concern that the plan had to be realistic and build toward the future.

Some of the most unrealistic proposals were included in the final plan.  What happened...after a full year in development, the plan was virtually shelved due to budget concerns at the federal level.  Participants were disheartened and charges were thrown around that the process was purely a political tool. 

I hope the concept of a lasting 10 year strategic plan for attracting green jobs to Cleveland does not follow a similar path.  Significant progress is possible, but it must include a dose of reality.

So You Want Green Jobs Cleveland...

Cleveland has is trying to increase momentum toward become a hub of green industry.  As a recent Clevelander I appreciate the efforts to promote sustainability, renewable power, and other green industry as a means of attracting jobs and improving the economy.  (photo:flickr:heidigoseek)

I have had the luxury of working with many of the cities around the State on environmental issues.  I honestly believe Cleveland has more resources and a more developed culture on sustainability then the other major Ohio metropolitan areas.   If you think differently check out the compiled list on Positively Cleveland of 75 Green Thing in Cleveland Plus.

But make no mistake about it, Cleveland is facing tough competition.  Frankly, Michigan and Pennsylvania have been more aggressive in promoting policies that would attract green industry to their states which puts Cleveland at a disadvantage. Those windmill blades you see traveling up I-71, those were not built in Ohio and are more than likely not going to be put up at a site in Ohio.   So, if we want to be serious about a green industry in Cleveland we will have to be prepared to beat the competition.

Mayor Jackson is trying to take the first step toward putting together a strategic plan for attracting green industry.  On August 12-14 he is holding a summit called Sustainable Cleveland 2019.  Here is the description of the summit off of the City's webpage:

From August 12-14, Mayor Frank G. Jackson will host a three-day summit, bringing together a diverse group of people vested in and dedicated to Cleveland to use their vast knowledge and imagination to create an action plan for building a green economy for Cleveland’s future. This summit will be facilitated by Dr. David Cooperrider of the Fowler Center for Sustainable Value at Case Western Reserve University. The goal is to create an action plan for economic sustainability that will support business growth; protect the environment; and, create opportunities for individuals to prosper.

I will be participating and no doubt will offer my opinions on the success of the summit in future blog posts.  But for right now, I am just pleased to see a focus on developing a strategy.  Now lets see if a viable strategy emerges. In a very general way, such a strategy should include:

  • Specific action items that focus on building a culture and structure needed to compete for green jobs
  • Courage and vision to make difficult choices.
  • An on-going commitment by more than just a few to implement the strategy
  • Participation by the business community
  • Linkage to Cleveland's other major growth industry- Health Care

 

Ending 40 Years Of Cleveland Jokes: A River's Recovery

June 22nd will mark the 40 year anniversary of the famous 1969 fire on the Cuyahoga River.  A picture of the fire in Time magazine was credited with bringing national focus to water pollution in the United States.  Here is a quote from a recent Cleveland Plain Dealer Article on the notorious fire:

"The fire did contribute a huge amount to the new environmental movement and it put the issue in front of everyone else, too," said Jonathan Adler, environmental historian and law professor at Case Western Reserve University. "Water pollution became a tangible, vivid thing -- like it had never been on a national level. "There was a sense of crisis at that point. It was: Oh, my God -- rivers are catching on fire.' "

In 1972, Congress passed the Clean Water Act whose stated goal is to make waterways across the country "fishable and swimmable."  Forty years ago, achieving the goal of the Clean Water Act seemed impossible for rivers like the Cuyahoga. 

The River was virtually dead from the release of industrial wastes and untreated sewage along with intensive urban and industrial development.  I remember talking with some of the original employees of the Ohio EPA who described the rivers like the Cuyahgoa and the Mahoning were virtually boiling from steel mills and other industrial sources that did not cool their water prior to discharging into the River.      

Flash forward to 2009, we are about to celebrate the anniversary of the fire by marking a significant achievement  in its recovery.  The Cuyahoga River Remedial Action Plan along with Ohio EPA has submitted a request U.S. EPA to take official action by removing most of the river  from list of the most polluted rivers in the Great Lakes (delisting request).  As the Chairman of the Cuyahoga RAP, I was lucky enough to sign the letter submitting the official request to U.S. EPA. 

The area of recovery stretches from Akron to 50 miles down the River to its navigation channel.  A once dead River is now teaming with life.  The River so notorious for its fire is now become a favorite for steelhead fly fishing. 

Perhaps no aspect of the recovery tells the story better then the return of fish to the River. The chart to the left is part of the delisting request to U.S. EPA.  It is a compilation of years of data collection from the River.  The horizontal axis is the miles of the River.  The vertical axis is the number of fish species. 

1969 is represented by the nearly flat purple line across the bottom indicatng virtually no life in the River except for its upper most reaches.  The green line across the top is 2008 which shows between 15 to 25 species living in the River.  (The dip in the green line is the Route 83 dam which shows how dams can have dramatic impacts on water quality)

What an amazing recovery.  From dead in 1969 to a River that has a wide variety of species and healthy fish in 2008.  Here are some more details on the return of fish to the River:

  • In 1984 the relative number of fish caught per kilometer was 53. In 2008 the relative number was 657 fish per kilometer. 
  • Total species in 1984 was 28, compared to 43 in 2008 with ¼ fewer sites. 
  • In 1984 there was only 1 individual of a sensitive species. In 2008 there were 10 sensitive species comprising 1412 individuals (31% of the total catch). 
  • In 1984 there were only 8 bass caught. In 2008 there were 221 bass caught, with the dominant species being Smallmouth Basin. 
  • In 1984 there was only 1 darter individual collected. In 2008 there were 5 species of darters (228 individuals). 
  • In 1984 there were no redhorse species (sensitive) in the entire reach. In 2008 there were 3 species (96 individuals). 

What are the reasons behind the miraculous recovery of the Crooked River?  It took a combination of major investment, successful environmental regulation and protecting the sensitive corridors along its banks. 

  1. Major investment by private industry and municipal wastewater treatment facilities- the North East Ohio Regional Sewer District and Akron's wastewater system have invested billions of dollar upgrading treatment.  Industry along the river has invested millions in new treatment wastewater treatment technology and improved business practices.
  2. Environmental regulation- Often maligned, the recovery demonstrates that regulation can be effective.  The Clean Water Act brought permits to all the major discharges to the River.  Overtime, as technology improved, the permits ratcheted down how much pollution dischargers could put into the river.
  3. The Cuyahoga Valley National Park and Cleveland Metroparks- Maintaining natural vegetation along the banks of rivers and streams has major benefits to water quality.  This vegetation operates as filters-absorbing non-point pollution before  it can impact waterways.  It also provide habitat for important bugs and critters that breathe life into streams.  The Cuyahoga Valley National Park protects 33,000 acres along the banks of the Cuyahoga River.  The park system operates as a massive riparian corridor along the River. 

Local news coverage of the remarkable comeback of the burning River has been good.  The Cleveland Plain Dealer has a series dedicated to the Year of the River.  But this deserves to be a national story.  So often the Midwest and Cleveland seem to be the epicenter of bad news- from a down economy to the housing crisis.  Don't get me started on the sports teams. 

What once brought Cleveland into the national spotlight for all the wrong reason should now bring attention for the rights ones.  How great would it be to see Time Magazine revisit the River forty years later!  Maybe with a picture of some fly fishing on the River.  Another reason to highlight the recovery nationally, the Obama Administration has requested $475 million in funding for the Great Lakes. What a better poster child for showing investment in the Great Lakes can work than the Cuyahoga.

If you want to do your part to help the river, you can purchase t-shirts and mugs embossed with the four fish graphic at the beginning of this post.   Money raised will be used to support on-going efforts to restore the River.  If you happen to be in the Cleveland area come down to the River on the 22nd and celebrate this amazing story or re-birth.  You can get details form of the events planned from the Cuyahoga RAP's website.

 

Cleveland Carbon Fund- First Ever Community Based Offset Option

Kudos to those in Cleveland  responsible for launching the country's first community based carbon offset fund- the Cleveland Carbon Fund.  It is an innovative approach to offsetting your personal or business carbon footprint.  Richard Steubi's Cleantech blog describes the difference between the Cleveland Fund and other offsetting options:

"There are already several options in the marketplace for interested parties to acquire emissions offsets to mitigate their carbon footprint. However, customers of these services usually do not know where the emission reductions will occur. For instance, if I use a service like TerraPass to offset the emissions from my next airline flight, I don't know exactly where the emission reductions will occur. Looking at the emission reduction projects sponsored by TerraPass, they span the width of the entire U.S."

Similar to other carbon funds, green conscious individuals or businesses can calculate their carbon footprint then make a donation to offset their carbon emissions. However most other funds use donations to purchase renewable energy credits to fund renewable energy projects or carbon credits.  The Cleveland Carbon Fund uses donations to fund  and provide technical support for specific projects right here in Cleveland.   An example of the types of projects funded include:

Compact Fluorescent Lamp (CFL) Installation
 [I]t is estimated that $20,000 from the Cleveland Carbon Fund could fund local community development organizations to install 8,000 CFLs in 1,000 low-income homes across Cleveland. In five years, this initiative would save these homeowners $250,000 and reduce carbon emissions by 2,000 tons at a cost of $5 – $10 per metric ton of carbon reduced.

Showerhead Replacement
Low-flow showerhead valves use half as much water while providing the same level of pressure. According to the Department of Energy, installing these valves saves $11 in water heating every three months...a $30,000 grant from the Cleveland Carbon Fund could fund non-profit organizations to install these valves in more than 200 low-income homes...This project would save Cleveland homeowners almost $10,000 in hot water heating and annually reduce carbon emissions by more than 100 tons at a cost of less than $10 per metric ton of carbon dioxide reduced.

Home Weatherization
For approximately $50,000, the Cleveland Carbon Fund can support more than 20 weatherization projects in low-income neighborhoods across the community, employing many local citizens. Sealing and insulating homes to better retain heat during the winter will save Cleveland homeowners more than $5,000 in energy bills and reduce carbon emissions by 40 tons each year.

If we have learned anything from the first few weeks of the Obama Administration its that climate change, renewable energy and sustainability will be key themes repeated early and often.  Rather than fighting this change, Ohio and Cleveland would be smart to see how they can leverage this massive impending change to grow its economy. 

Innovation and leading will be key to securing green jobs in this difficult economy.  We need to see more proposals like the Cleveland Carbon Fund in order to compete with all the other areas of the country that are actively trying to brand themselves green states and cities. 

(Photo: laszlo-photo/everystockphoto.com)

Improving Air Quality Good News to Cleveland Area Businesses

There is good news for area businesses.  Additional compliance costs and restrictions on economic growth will be avoided that were deemed all but certain a few years ago.  The compliance costs were associated with new air pollution controls needed to achieve  U.S. EPA's 1997 8-hour ozone standard (0.85 ppm). The deadline to meet this standard is 2009.

When I was Director of Ohio EPA,  all the modeling and projections showed there was no way Cleveland would meet the standard by the deadline. I remember giving speeches around the State with the basic theme- "we would have to de-populate Cleveland to meet the Ozone deadline."   I remember briefing the Governor that it appeared likely the Cleveland-Akron-Lorain Nonattainment Area would have to "bump up" to the next category of nonattainment-"serious."  By bumping up Cleveland would buy time to reach the standard, but the cost was a list on new federally mandated controls and restrictions.  Bump up would have had devastating impacts on the local economy.

[This is a slide taken from one of the speeches on reaching the ozone standard.  The numbers show various ozone levels at each monitor in the nonattainment area after imposing various control options.  The black number was a series of draconian measures that would have devastated the local economy.  Even after imposing those controls the models predicted continued nonattainment.]

 

 

Perhaps this is a lesson about not putting too much faith in modeling, but  based upon recent air quality monitoring Cleveland has indeed attained the 1997 8-hour ozone standard.   Area businesses may never be fully aware of the crisis that was averted.  But this is certainly good news for an area that has struggled to meet federal air quality standards.

Below is additional background on the recent Ohio EPA submittals.

In 2008, Ohio EPA submitted an State Implementation Plan (SIP) for the Cleveland-Akron-Lorain nonattainment area that requested redesignation to attainment status.  This was based on monitoring data from 2005,2006 and 2007 that showed Cleveland close to attainment [0.0853 compared to 0.0853]. 

This month, February 2009 Ohio EPA has prepared an updated attainment demonstration for the Cleveland that incorporates the most recent air monitoring data from the summer of 2008.  Due to ever improving air quality, the updated monitoring data shows Cleveland complies with the Standard [0.084 compared to 0.085 standard]. 

Here is additional detail regarding the two submissions:

2008 Ohio EPA Redesignation Request to U.S. EPA
In the February 2008, Ohio EPA submitted its request to U.S. EPA to have the Cleveland-Akron-Lorain nonattainment area redesignated to attainment. The document included two key conclusions:

1) Monitoring data for 2005-2007 showed the area just above the standard. The data showed 0.853 ppm compared to the 0.85 ppm standard.

2) Ohio EPA was requesting redesignation of the Cleveland-Akron-Lorain area based upon modeling that showed it expected the area to attain the standard by 2009. This was known as the "weight of evidence" approach (WOE). Under the WOE policy, U.S. EPA can redesignate an area attainment even though monitoring data shows it has not met the standard.  However, Ohio EPA must provide the federal EPA convincing evidence the area will reach the standard by the 2009 deadline.

Ohio EPA included the following language in the January 2008 submittal to U.S. EPA:

"The (air) modeling results as well as the previously submitted weight of evidence information supports the conclusion that Cleveland-Akron-Lorain OH area should attain the eight-hour ozone standard on time.

In spite of this evidence, Ohio EPA is developing additional emission reduction options. Ohio EPA recognizes that the ozone standard is currently under review and a final revision to the standard will most likely result in a revised standard that will require additional emission reductions above those necessary to achieve the existing standards. Ohio EPA is currently in discussions with U.S. EPA and local stakeholders assessing the options available to meet the future standard, including the use of lower Reid-Vapor Pressure gasoline. "

Bottom line: Ohio EPA left open the possibility it would impose additional control measures to support its WOE demonstration to U.S. EPA.

2009 Revised Ohio EPA Redesignation Request to U.S. EPA: Ozone levels improved significantly in the summer of 2008. The average of the 2006, 2007 and 2008 ozone seasons shows an overall average of 0.84 ppm which is below the 0.85 ppm standard.

This is very good news for the Cleveland-Akron-Lorain area. This means Ohio EPA no longer has to propose a WOE approach to U.S. EPA. Rather, Ohio EPA can rely on the real monitoring data which already shows attainment with the standard. As a result, all of the language I quoted above regarding evaluating additional control options has been dropped. In the 2009 submittal Ohio EPA states:

"The Cleveland-Akron-Lorain ozone nonattainment area has attained the 1997 NAAQS for ozone and complied with the applicable provisions of the 1990 Amendments to the Clean Air Act regarding redesignations of ozone nonattainment areas...Based on this presentation, the Cleveland-Akron-Lorain ozone nonattainment area meets the requirements for redesignation under the CAA and U.S. EPA guidance....Furthermore, because the area is subject to significant transport of pollutants, significant regional NOx reductions will ensure continued compliance (maintenance) with the standard with an increasing margin of safety."

Bottom line: It appears Ohio EPA is no longer evaluating additional controls to comply with the 1997 ozone standard. In addition, the language referring to "subject to significant transport of pollutants" is a reference to the fact our ozone levels are heavily influenced by emissions from elsewhere in Ohio and the Midwest. This means continued strengthening of programs like CAIR (power plant reductions) will continue to result in improved air quality.

Of course the story does not end here... U.S. EPA is in the process of imposing the new 2008 ozone standard (0.75 ppm). Current monitoring shows Cleveland is a long way from achieving the new standard. Unfortunately, this means Cleveland-Akron-Lorain will not get out from under its nonattainment status anytime in the near future.  But at least we are no longer discussing draconian measures to meet the old ozone standard.

U.S. EPA Ozone Rule Shows Potential For More Flexibility in the Future

On January 12, 2009, U.S. EPA proposed a major revision to its rules implementing the 1997 8-hour ozone standard.

In yesterday's post, I discussed the possibility of E-check expanding in Ohio as a result of U.S. EPA's proposed revisions to implementation of the 1997 8-hour ozone standard (.08 ppm).  Today I want to discuss the larger ramifications of the proposed rule.  The proposal provides a crystal ball type glimpse into how U.S. EPA may implement the 2008 8-hour ozone standard (.075 ppm). 

Depending upon how EPA builds off this proposed rulemaking when developing an implementation rule for the new .075 ppm ozone standard, there could be good news for many areas in the Country, including areas in Ohio.  This is especially true for Cleveland which has been under the most stringent ozone requirements in the State. 

As discussed in yesterday's post, the rigidness of U.S. EPA's requirements is largely dependent upon how areas are classified under the Clean Air Act. The short version- Subpart I good...Subpart II bad.  The chart below captures how EPA requirements ratchet up the more severe your ozone problem.  With each higher classification Subpart II piles on more federal mandates.  Subpart I areas don't carry these same mandates.  In addition, there is no classification system-all areas area considered "basic" non-attainment areas.

In recognition that Subpart II carries with it far more regulatory baggage, in 2004 U.S. EPA tried to expand the scope of Subpart I. In order to expand the scope of Subpart I, U.S. EPA drew a line in the sand at a 1-hour design values of .121 ppm.  Areas below .121 ppm were placed in Subpart I. Using this dividing line, there were 126 areas in country designated "non-attainment" for ozone, 84 were under Subpart I and 42 were under Subpart II.  Cleveland was the only Subpart II area in Ohio.

However, legal challenges resulted in the Court throwing out EPA's dividing line of .121 ppm.  The D.C. Circuit Court said that the Supreme Court required .09 ppm on the 8-hour scale as the level for determining which areas would be subject to Subpart II.  In its latest proposal, EPA acknowledges it has discretion to place areas with an 8-hour design value of less than .09 ppm into Subpart I. EPA is proposing to forgo this option and place all areas under a Subpart II classification because it does not want to delay implementation of the 8-hour ozone standard any further. 

I would predict they will not forgo this option when it comes to implementation of the 2008 8-hour ozone standard of .075 ppm.  I believe they will put all areas with design values less than .09 ppm into Subpart I in order to provide maximum flexibility to the States designing their control plans to meet the standard (referred to as SIPs- State Implementation Plans). 

What is the ozone status in Ohio right now?  Based upon 2005-2008 Air Quality Data here are the current ozone design values for the highest ozone areas in the state.

CINCINNATI- .085 ppm

COLUMBUS- .08 ppm

CLEVELAND- .084 ppm

Based on current air quality Ohio should have no areas close to the .09 ppm cut off for placing areas into Subpart II of the Clean Air Act.  This would include Cleveland which is currently under Subpart II. This is good news for the States.  This approach would give Ohio EPA and other States the maximum flexibility in putting together their SIPs to attain the .075 ppm ozone standard.

Ohio Scorecard on Developing a Clean Tech Economy

The gloom and doom of today's economy, especially in Cleveland, is covered almost daily.  Job's have been disappearing from the area at a rapid clip.  The front page of the Cleveland Plain Dealer has almost been dedicated to breaking the bad news.  See, Plain Dealer Article "Northeast Ohio Job Loses Spread."

The Article includes the graphic to the left which shows areas of job growth and declines.  The question swirling around Norheast Ohio is how to get the overall economy growing again. 

The most important change is to adopt a Statewide strategy to pursue jobs of the future, rather than putting most of our efforts and money to try and protect struggling industries like the auto companies. We need to look to where the jobs of the future are going to develop and be aggressive about jumping into that space.

Northeast Ohio has done that well with its efforts on attracting medical innovation investment.  Growth in health care is here to stay. 

So what is another job growth area of the future?  It has been discussed with ever increasing regularity- Shifting towards attracting clean technologies jobs that will be associated with the monumental changes associated with energy and Climate Change. 

I am by no means the first to point out Northeast Ohio needs to be aggressively positioning itself to attract those jobs.  For example, locally we have had champions like the Cleveland Foundation pushing leaders to fully embrace a strategy to attract Clean Tech to Northeast Ohio (see, Rich Stuebi's recent op-ed piece in the Plain Dealer)  And leaders are paying attention.  You may not know this but the Greater Cleveland Partnership was the only chamber of commerce in Ohio that supported including renewable mandates in Ohio's Energy Bill that passed this summer.

Progress is being made, but we better double our efforts or will be beat out by other states and regions who have their eyes on the same jobs.  Like it or not, Northeast Ohio's chances at success are intertwined with State leadership efforts on developing a Clean Tech economy.

What is leadership?   Leadership means being out front, not coming late to the party.  For example, Iowa long ago embraced wind energy and has a large portion of generation from wind.  So which state is landing a multi-million dollar new manufacturing facility? Of course it is Iowa.  Meanwhile, Ohio was one of the last states to adopt a mandate on renewable energy.

Texas has also been taking notice and positioning itself to tie its economy to the forthcoming growth in Clean Tech.  An organization call Catalyst just completed a study of Clean Tech opportunities in Texas.  The study includes a series of recommendations for State leadership to adopt to ensure Texas is well positioned. 

Below I have taken out the recommendations that are included in the Texas study and provided my own analysis as to how Ohio is doing in these areas.  It is intended as a scorecard on Ohio's strategy to attract Clean Tech jobs.

Market Recommendations

  • Spur the creation of renewable energy markets by modernizing the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard to promote non-wind generation, and update the state’s wind policy to promote the next generation of wind investment. (Ohio passed S.B. 221 that includes a broad RPS to encourage varies technologies.  The key issue with Ohio's RPS are the "out clauses" if costs to comply exceed 3%. Hopefully these clauses don't render the mandate useless)
  • Incent and reward residential and commercial energy customers who choose renewable electricity options, including aggressive rebates or tax credits for solar installation or other distributed generation. (Ohio does include some limited incentives for renewables. The Ohio Department of Development (ODOD) has information regrading solar for consumers.  But an analysis should be done to compare Ohio incentives to those provided by other states. Growth in residential demand helps attract companies to Ohio.)
  • Promote Texas companies by tying customer rebates and incentives to products designed, manufactured or marketed by Texas companies. (I am not aware that Ohio is doing anything in this area.  I know there is a "Buy Ohio" program, but I don't think it has much value in the Clean Tech arena)

Economic Development Recommendations

  • Conduct a comprehensive analysis of how Texas' new energy economic development incentives compare to those of other key states. (Ohio should perform such an analysis.  Ohio has new funding for alternative energy projects through the Ohio Air Quality Development Authority (OAQDA).  However, more information is needed as to whether this is enough of an incentive to put Ohio ahead of other states)
  • Consolidate existing and new incentives into a comprehensive and simple New Energy Incentive Package, and actively promote and market it by establishing a visible, coordinated state office to serve as a single point of entry for new energy economic development inquiries. (Ohio gets a mixed scorecard on this one.  Governor Strickland gets credit for creating an Energy Advisor position.  Also, he has increased available incentives.  However, authority and funding is split between OAQDA and ODOD.)
  • Commit specific and significant portions of the Emerging Technology Fund and Texas Enterprise Fund to companies and efforts in new energy industries. (Again, Ohio has created the Alternative Energy Fund as part of its Job Stimulus Package.  However, grants are limited to between $50,000 to $250,000 on renewables which seems hardly enough to attract series development. It may be a good program for helping bridge research to commercial deployment, but a larger effort is needed.)
  • Create a state-sanctioned venue through which university and community college officials, workforce development officials, regional and local chambers of commerce, and state leaders can develop a Green Jobs education and training strategy. (This has not been done at all in Ohio.  Efforts are scattered and not coordinated across the State.)

State Reputation Recommendations

  • Change the political rhetoric surrounding the new energy economy. The world has recognized this is no longer a partisan issue, but an economic opportunity. As long as Texas leaders position the future—and the new energy economy—as bad for Texas’ economy, businesses will go to other states where they’re welcome. This will require current leadership to demonstrate more enthusiasm for the future economy. (This same sentiment can apply equally to Ohio.  Due to its historical manufacturing base and reliance on coal, associations and leaders view major changes such as Climate Change as only bad for Ohio's economy.  To be a leader, the State must be willing to embrace the changes and work to take advantage of them.)
  • Convene a blue-ribbon commission on the new energy economy—consisting
    of traditional energy companies, renewable energy companies, universities,
    entrepreneurs, utilities and economic development entities—to design
    a long-term new energy economic development strategy for the state. This strategy should build upon the general suggestions of the Governor’s Competitiveness Council’s Report and State Energy Plan, and provide specific, executable strategies for promoting the new energy economy in Texas.
    (Another suggestion that would be wise for Ohio to adopt.  While there have been smaller efforts, development of a comprehensive plan is the only way to position the State for success.  A piece meal approach to incentives, RPS and training only means Ohio will be at best a middle tier state in attracting Clean Tech jobs)
  • Appoint a statewide, cabinet-level New Energy Economy Czar, responsible for identifying, articulating and executing a statewide strategy for maximizing Texas’ New Energy economic development opportunity. (Governor Strickland did create the position of Energy Advisor filled by Mark Shanahan. However, this position certainly does not have equal status to the recommendation in the Texas study.)
  • Launch a Manhattan Project-style initiative to design the model “future grid” that could serve as a national proving ground for emerging energy technology and a model for networks nationwide.  (While I don't have enough insight to determine if this is a worthwhile recommendation, the notion is correct that the State must take nationally visible efforts to distinguish itself from all the other States competing for these jobs.)

 

Ohio Trying to Sieze Green Jobs to Jump Start its Economy

A report released today by the U.S. Conference of Mayors estimates that job growth associated with green industries could be the fastest growing job market over the next few decades.  As reported in Time Magazine:

A major shift to renewable energy and efficiency is expected to produce 4.2 million new environmentally friendly "green" jobs over the next three decades, according to a study commissioned by the nation's mayors.

By 2038, another 4.2 million green jobs are expected to be added, accounting for 10 percent of new job growth over the next 30 years, according to the report by Global Insight, Inc.

"It could be the fastest growing segment of the United States economy over the next several decades and dramatically increase its share of total employment," said the report, obtained Wednesday by The Associated Press.

Ohio, with its long history of manufacturing and its heavy reliance on fossil fuels, has been slower to embrace green ideas as means of turning its economic fortunes around.   However, the drumbeat of bad economic news has more Ohio leaders looking for new opportunities to jump start Ohio's economy.  From 2000 to 2007, Ohio lost 209,000 jobs.  During that same period Cleveland lost 63,000 jobs based upon a report compiled using Department of Labor statistics

The single largest development was passage of legislation (S.B. 221) this summer that created a renewable portfolio standard, advanced energy portfolio standard and energy efficiency requirements. However, a review of recent local news stories and events shows the Buckeye State is beginning to focus on developing a green economy:

  • Cincinnati Wants to Lead Green Roof Movement in U.S.- The City Council on Wednesday became the first in Ohio with a plan to channel grants and loans to residents and businesses to replace tar and shingles with vegetation.
  • Columbus Summit on Sustainability and the Environment-  MORPC, the Columbus metropolitan planning organization, held a successful multi-day summit at the Columbus Convention Center.  Over 500 individuals attended that event that had a wide range of presentations relating to sustainability. 
  • Eight Major Green Projects in Northeast Ohio- They include attracting fish to the Cuyahoga River shipping channel through installation of plants along the bulkhead, deconstruction of abandoned homes to recycle the materials, local food from urban community gardens, etc.
  • Wind Turbines on Lake Erie- Cuyahoga County officials this week rolled out the first three reports from their $1 million study of a grand vision -- erecting two to 10 wind turbines in the lake off Cleveland's shore.  Constructing off-shore wind power in fresh water is seen as a possible economic driver in Northeast Ohio.
  • Ohio State University Participates in Solar Decathlon- 20 university teams will participate in the 2009 Solar Decathlon. The teams, chosen from the United States, Canada, and Europe, will each receive $100,000 from DOE to design, build, and operate energy efficient, solar-powered homes.  The Solar Decathlon is an international, biennial competition that challenges university teams to design and build energy efficient solar-powered homes.
  • Ohio Has 28 Solar Sites as Part of National Solar Tour-  Green Energy Ohio organized the tours in Ohio as part of the American Solar Energy Society.  The tours are from October 3-5.
  • Ohio Gov. Recognizes U. of Toledo Solar Power Leadership-