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The BG News
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November 30, 2023

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Gillmor discusses environmental policies in district

Finding solutions to local environmental problems was a prime concern voiced at the Wood County Elected Officials luncheon yesterday afternoon.

Rep. Paul Gillmor (R), currently serving his ninth term in the U.S. House of Representatives, arrived at Sam B’s Restaurant in downtown Bowling Green to meet with office holders in Ohio’s fifth district and lead a discussion about their most recent issues.

Gillmor began the meeting by summarizing some of the legislation he helped to pass during the 109th Congress session, including the Energy Policy Act, which Gillmor called “the first major energy overhaul in thirty years in this country.”

This legislation has already had a positive impact locally because of increased production of ethanol as an alternative fuel source, with four ethanol plants now operating in Ohio, Gillmor said.

“The results of the ethanol mandate [in the energy bill] are already showing up,” he said, “Soon I think we’re going to see an actual ethanol plant in our own district.”

Gillmor also pointed to hydrogen as a clean possibility for dealing with a long-term energy crisis.

“It’s only byproduct is water, which isn’t harmful,” he said.

And although he does not favor it as a long-term strategy, Gillmor said he still supports “additional drilling” for oil in sites like the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) region until a more reliable, renewable energy source is discovered.

But locally, Wood County commissioner Tim Brown said Bowling Green has already found an alternative energy source of its own through its use of windmills providing electricity for residents.

“This area is ripe for many more windmills than we have now,” Brown told Gillmor. “We would like to see more federal dollars for this type of program.”

Bowling Green mayor John Quinn agreed.

“Over 1,700 homes can be powered by those windmills,” Quinn said. “It’s been a remarkable resource for us.”

In Bowling Green, Quinn said renewable resources such as the windmills, hydro and solar power now account for about 20 percent of the energy source, but the city is still looking into more options.

“We are having discussions with the University about producing cleaner energy for the town through a steam plant,” he said.

In addition to the renewable resources discussion, Wood County Sheriff Mark Wasylyshyn voiced concern over who should take authority – local, state or federal government – if a natural disaster occurs in Wood County.

Wasylyshyn said he was afraid the federal government would have trouble assessing how to deal with the aftermath as well as how local officials would handle the situation.

“Looking back at Katrina, my fear would be the federal government coming in and telling us how to run things, when we know what our own resources are,” he said.

Gillmor agreed that knowledgeable local officials are key to being prepared for a natural disaster.

“Part of the problem in Louisiana was the incompetency of their public officials,” he said.

Gillmor also addressed concerns about the trend of factory farms, or “megafarms,” and the waste they produce in Ohio, but ultimately said the issue was best delegated to state governments.

“The federal government does not regulate these farms, and it’s the state that permits and sets standards for them,” he said.

Gillmor’s visit to Bowling Green was only the first of several to the fifth district this week; today he is scheduled to hold “town meetings” with constituents in Perrysburg and Bucyrus, and tomorrow in Kalida.

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