Clean energy initiatives should be transparent and local

| July 21, 2019

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A group that has been trying for years to hijack Ohio tax dollars via the ballot is back, and this time they may manage to get in front of voters. Unfortunately, the latest pitch is, like the previous attempts, a bad one. This time they’re aiming lower, at the city of Columbus’ budget. The group called ProEnergy Ohio has gathered enough valid signatures to put before city voters an issue that would direct the city to allocate $57 million toward energy-related efforts chosen by backers of the petition. As much as The Dispatch favors more clean energy development in Ohio, turning over public budgets to this secretive group isn’t the right way to make it happen. In fact, we would be hard-pressed to say it is ever a good idea to transfer our elected representatives’ powers of appropriation to the ballot box. Relieving them of accountability for spending tax dollars is a recipe for fiscal disaster. At present, ProEnergy Ohio consists of three people who maintain a “virtual office” Downtown. Its coordinator, John Clarke, has been involved in related ballot efforts in Ohio since 2012, and every one of those attempts has shared the same critical flaws: no transparency about the backers, a determination to take over the allocation of tax dollars from elected officials and zero coordination with or buy-in from established Ohio-based clean-energy groups.

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