Should the Ohio River be more polluted?

In a tucked away corner of Kentucky, on a recent Thursday night, several elected officials conducted a poorly publicized public hearing to discuss whether regulations that have protected the Ohio River from pollution should be “revised.”

The regulations under review have been in place since 1948 when all the states on the Ohio agreed, with various degrees of reluctance, to do something to protect the river.

The outcome of this uneasy agreement was ORSANCO, the Ohio River Valley Water Sanitation Commission. ORSANCO has, for the years since, regulated the amount of pollution that can be spewed into the Ohio.

Much to the frustration of the coal power plants that line the river, every few miles.

Has ORSANCO done a great job? Well, no. Many hearing participants noted at Thursday’s meeting that the Ohio is the most polluted river in the nation. That statistic is backed up, as of 2012, by research coming out of Pennsylvania.

But, all things being always relative, the Ohio is still not as bad as China’s Yangtze River which has gone yellow from chemical dumping, according to Jim O’Reilly, author of the Law of Fracking, who spoke at the Thursday night hearing.

O’Reilly noted that China is in the process of acquiring interests along the Ohio and that, if regulations are abandoned, “the Yangtze will be the model.”

Health issues

Speakers at the public hearing were largely indignant about threats to their drinking water and air quality. The contamination of Flint, Michigan’s drinking water was alluded to several times.

According to speaker Connie Mayle, “Five million people rely on the Ohio for their tap water.” Mayle also sensibly noted that it’s going to cost a lot of taxpayer dollars for states to reinvent the wheel and draft their own standards for the river.

Robin Blakeman asked “Why give up a system we know works” and “turn the Ohio River into cancer alley?”

But some of the most troubling testimony came from a gentleman who has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. Because there is no evidence of the illness anywhere in his family history, he suspects environmental causes.

“My only question is: Did I get it through the air, did I get it through the water? .  .  . What exactly caused this? . . . I don’t know. What I do know is that we should be increasing standards  . . .  not decreasing them,” he said.

Click here to see the video.

Open anger

Some speakers were openly angry with ORSANCO reps. John Blair, editor of ValleyWatch.net, went on record with these comments:

“I kept hearing the word ‘revision’ used by Mr. Heath and others tonight. Whenever you’re going to wholesale eliminate something, it’s kind of a platitude, isn’t it, to call it a ‘revision.'”

Linda Newman outright threatened the commission. “This is putting five million people’s lives at risk. This is abdicating your responsibility. If you go forward, members of the commission, with alternative two .  .  . there must be some way to sue you, collectively and individually, for putting our lives at risk. There must be some way to ask, ‘are you going to continue to meet and to pay yourselves and reimburse yourselves for your expenses while you overtly decide to do nothing, to not carry out your mission?’ This is an abdication of your appointed role. And, as citizens, we must hold you accountable.”

Click here to see the video.

Direct line to Donald Trump

Of course, it’s tempting to grumble and blame Donald Trump for everything, including things that take place at the micro-local level.

In this case, however, we can draw a tentative line between the Trump regime and ORSANCO’s willingness to give up on standards that have kept the Ohio somewhat safe for seventy years.

Trump’s now legendary disregard for environmental standards, even those that simply protect public health, have emboldened industry officials to demand that ORSANCO leave abandon its work and let states decide what happens to the Ohio on their watch.

Was it just a dog and pony show?

Several participants noted the absence of any industry leaders arguing on behalf of deregulation.

It makes some of us wonder if the public hearing was just a “dog and pony show,” staged to satisfy the formalities of a public hearing after the deal had already been sealed behind closed doors.

The hearing took place in the Holiday Inn of Erlanger, Kentucky, arguably a few stone throws away from Cincinnati, but not very convenient for most of the people who wanted to speak.

The nearness to the airport was, of course, a great convenience to the ORSANCO members who flew in for the hearing.

Several speakers said that a hearing should take place in Evansville, Indiana which has been hard hit by river pollution.

Also of interest was the size of room which was designed to accommodate about sixty people, and not even big enough to seat all the people who trekked for hours to that out of the way location.

VIP water

As the hearing swung into its third hour, ORSANCO representatives drank water from matching bottles, labeled “VIP” and presumably provided by the Holiday Inn, to those gentlemen only.

The rest of us drank water out of the tap. Presumably processed from the Ohio.

new bottles

What you can do

This is a public comment period, so please comment on or before August 10, 2018.

Email your comments to: PCS@orsanco.org.  Put comments in the body of the regular email. DO NOT ADD AN ATTACHMENT.

PLEASE PROVIDE YOUR FULL NAME AND YOUR FULL ADDRESS WITH YOUR COMMENTS. IF THESE ARE NOT INCLUDED, YOUR COMMENT WILL NOT BECOME PART OF THE RECORD.

Mailed comments should be addressed to: ORSANCO, 5735 Kellogg Avenue, Cincinnati, OH 45230, Attn: PCS Comments.

 

 

What they will know from our trash

A thousand years from now, when aliens finally discover the husk of our planet, these are the things they will know about us from our garbage.

The wedding dress

The most important artifact in a woman’s life was her wedding dress. She spent days locating it, often commanding the time of friends and family in the search. She would then wear this dress once.

After that occasion, it would be carefully put away and stored in an air-conditioned temple, away from the bride’s home. These temples charged a monthly fee for the care of the dress, but temple priestesses stole a percentage of the dresses and sold them on a virtual platform called “Craigslist.”

Paper or plastic

There was a great debate about whether paper bags or plastic bags were more destructive of the planet, even though both contributed to the planet’s demise. The population became sharply divided into those who used disposable bags and art bags.

The art bags were carefully designed and crafted, durable bags made of fabric, often canvas, and sometimes string. Care was assigned to the colors and constructions of these bags, and some of them were even used to communicate life philosophies such as “Tread lightly” or “Leave only your footprints” or “Just say ‘neither.'”

Some people even created their own bags out of old clothing, especially an artifact called the “T-shirt.” These hand-crafted bags were highly regarded by their creators and sometimes given as gifts to the wrong people.

Everyone else used plastic bags which were, in general, used once and then discarded. These bags were often used to encase one item purchased from a store. While some store priestesses would ask customers whether they wanted a bag for one or two items, others dispensed the plastic bags with every purchase.

Some big store priestesses resented store pilgrims who brought art bags into big stores. If the pilgrim asked for “no bag,” the priestess would throw an unused plastic bag into the trash to register her disapproval of the art bag people.

Small, outdoor “farmers markets” emerged to give art bag people a place to shop where their bags were valued. Many people reviled these markets as “elitist” bastions of wealthy, bored white people.

Would you like some polystyrene with that coffee?

In the early twenty-first century, everyone knew how to make delicious coffee. There was an amazing array of coffee makers, from percolators to drip systems. Coffee could be made by the pot or by the cup. Arguments concerning the best coffee and the best way to make coffee took up a considerable amount of leisure time.

However, it was a sign of wealth and status to buy coffee away from home and receive it in a throwaway paper or polystyrene cup. Eventually, the production of these cups caused such wide spread deforestation that the earth’s oxygen crashed, killing three quarters of the people and wildlife.

 

 

Disposable cups: How are they still a thing?

If you’ve ever waged a one-person war on disposable cups, you know how frustrating and lonely it can be.

Around twenty years ago, when I was trying for zero waste, I bought a rather expensive metal mug at Krispy Kreme Donuts because I was getting my daily morning coffee from that chain.

The next day, when I presented the mug and asked the server to put my coffee in there, she refused, saying that all Krispy Kreme coffee had to be served in paper cups. I pointed out that it was a Krispy Kreme mug that I had bought at that location.

She knew. It just didn’t bother her.

Only partially daunted, I made several more attempts to get my coffee put into the metal mug. One server first poured it into a cup and then decanted it in the mug.

Even at that time, Dunkin’ Donuts probably had some corporate policy about letting people use real mugs and eschew the paper ones, but these policies often don’t make it down to the store level.

On numerous other occasions, I have made store clerks and cashiers angry by refusing bags or insisting on putting items in my back pack.

The words, “No bag!” and “I don’t need a bag” hollered directly at someone picking up my items for purchase often falls on deaf ears. Or it has to be repeated–which amazes me.

Am I really the first person at Walgreens ever to refuse a bag for one item?

Considering the on-the-ground resistance to reducing pointless, conspicuously immoral waste products, I decided to do some new research. Maybe disposable cups aren’t really the ecological disaster that I think they are.

Sadly, that’s not true. According to the Huffpost, Starbucks alone is destroying forests at the rate of 8000 paper cups a minute. And, if you’re thinking that paper cups could be recycled into other paper products, guess again. Many such cups are coated with polyethylene, a chemical that makes recycling difficult, if not impossible in most places.

Paper cups were supposed to be an improvement on styrene foam (colloquially known as styrofoam) which has been proven to kill marine animals and is suspected of contributing to cancer in humans.

A writer at the Boston Globe notes that neither cup is really recyclable.

Right about now, you might be asking how this is an animal rights issue. In the case of styrene foam, it’s more obvious. Surely, you’ve heard that turtles and diving birds ingest small amounts of this trash and it poisons them.

But let’s circle back to the thousands of trees that are destroyed to make paper cups. That’s a huge loss of trees. And mature trees are almost never alone. They are homes to animals. Most birds need trees to nest in. The destruction of one tree at mating season can destroy dozens of baby birds and bird eggs.

So, what is the solution?

The most obvious thing to do is make and drink your own coffee at home–without using a K-cup because K-cups are landfill mongers–and compost the filter.

But going out for coffee is an emotional or social ritual for millions of people. Are they doomed to participate in deforestation every day?

Not where coffee chains have voluntarily figured out ways to reduce waste. Europe, New Zealand, and Canada are getting way ahead of the United States on this initiative.

What you can do

All is not lost, even in the U.S. Starbucks lets customers buy $2 reusable cups. Then customers receive a small discount when they use them. The company does this in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom.

So, if you’re a Starbucks addict, this is the obvious thing to do. If you’ve been getting coffee in paper cups from another chain, switch to Starbucks and use their reusable mugs and get the discount.

If you’re not addicted to chain coffee, patronizing a local coffee shop may allow you the luxury of sitting down with a ceramic mug of coffee. Imagine that!

Or you can start a local initiative to ban paper cups in your town. Start out at city hall.

Last, but not least, you could buy an espresso maker at your local Goodwill or Habitat Restore and learn to make really delicious coffee at home.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cats inside; birds outside

In the war between wildlife experts and feral cat colony managers, we must side with wildlife.

By Joel Worth

I recently read a rather upsetting blog in which the writer says, “Let Cats Eat the Birds.”

Referring to wildlife advocate Jonathan Franzen, she writes, “The fuck??? All Franzen is doing here is saying ‘I like birds more than cats, so we should preserve them, even if it means killing cats.’ That has nothing to do with nature. You just picked the animal you like more.”

Um. Not sure it’s that simple. There’s this thing called “biodiversity” that some of us value, because we don’t want to live in a world with just two species.

Many cats, especially those that have packed on the happy fat from being loved and cared for, are content to sit in the garden, lazing in the sun, and doing no ecological damage.

Sadly, other individuals love to hunt and will kill, repeatedly, just for the pleasure of it. Do, sometime, read about Tibbles, the cat that decimated an entire species.

And there are stories about big cats in Australia that are descended from feral pet cats. Australians who run into them think they are black panthers. Scientists, who know better, say these cats got fat by preying on wildlife. The fact that these cats have supersized is not good news for anybody, not even your chihuahua.

Do cats really need to go outside?

Before you defend the notion that cats must run free, consider that the average life span of an outdoor cat is five years or so, whereas indoor cats can live to be twenty-five. If you are as emotionally dependent on your cats as I am, this is a no brainer.

I don’t care if my indoor only cats can’t fully express themselves as cats. I love them too much, so twenty-five years of being pampered, petted, and having the run of the house will just have to compensate for not going outside and getting fleas.

Outdoor cats are, of course, much more likely to get hit by a car, killed by a dog, or trapped in a crawl space. They are at risk of getting feline AIDS or feline leukemia. The vaccines against these diseases are only about eighty percent effective.

Should we support feral cat colonies?

Many kind-hearted people who love cats cannot resist supporting feral cat colonies with fundraisers and donations.

Unfortunately, these maintained colonies can wreak havoc on birds and other wildlife who have, unarguably, a better right to occupy the forest or plain than a domestic species whose numbers we have failed to control.

Feral cat colonists should be working to find every cat a home or a job, perhaps in a barn or field where the instinct to kill will be an asset.

The trap, neuter, release folks mean well, but they are mistaken in telling us that feral cats would rather live outside without human companionship. These cats were bred as our companions. And they most certainly can learn to love humans. It just takes some extra patience.

In fact, a cat who lives all his life without attaching to a human is not fulfilling his biological destiny.

Should we destroy feral cats?

I’m not going to dodge the above question. Yes, if all else fails, the cat should die (as humanely as possible) to save the birds.

However, there are a lot of things we can do to prevent that worst case scenario:

  • Yes, spay and neuter all outdoor cats. If they’re crossing your yard, you have every right to take them to the vet and have them fixed.
  • Keep your own cats inside, and encourage friends and family to do the same.

What we can do about feral cats

  • If you run a feral cat colony, slowly accustom the cats to your voice and your touch. This can be done by putting the food near you and making them approach you to get it.
  • Work with rescues to place your colony cats in homes of cat whisperers who will consider it a wonderful challenge to rehabilitate a wild cat. Contact farmers and gardeners about hiring feral cats to organically control rats and mice. If the cats are assigned in pairs, they will not be lonely.
  • If you cannot place all your feral cats, use smart collars to discover what they are doing. You might have two that are killing birds while the others have no ambition to do so. You can then prioritize getting the killing cats indoors.
  • See if you can find an indoor space for the cats to live. The basement of someone overrun with mice, for instance. An equipment storage space in a large company.
  • If you are determined to maintain an outdoor feral colony in an area shared by wildlife, please put belled collars on all the cats. This will give the birds a chance to escape. Eventually, the birds will learn to identify the sound of a cat approaching. And the cats will eventually learn that there’s no point in jumping a bird.

But I didn’t mean to kill those thousand birds! So that’s okay, then

Trumps tramples the Migratory Bird Treaty Act

United States President Donald Trump and his regime are attacking one of the most sacred laws protecting wildlife: the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

As you should know, migration is a risky venture. Migratory birds undertake it because they have specific ideas about where to raise their families. If you were born in the crevice of a sheer rock face, you can’t imagine any place else to make a nest.

Migrating to the arctic, incidentally, is one way some bird species are surviving. Birds who raise the next generation in the most hostile habitats have less to fear from humans and their destructive sprawl.

Some birds travel thousands of miles, and their journeys are epic. Bar-headed geese fly in the thin air five miles above the ocean. Hummingbirds, by contrast, clear the Gulf of Mexico, avoiding headwinds by flying dangerously low and risking death by drowning. Only one fourth of newborn hummingbirds will survive the journey.

Despite their bad reputations as squatters, many Canada geese still fly up to three thousand miles to the northernmost parts of North America.

To offer these intrepid travelers some kind of protection seems the least humans can do.

But the Trump regime has now reinterpreted the MBTA to mean that you can be fined only if you meant to kill the birds.

This leaves industries free to destroy birds with oil spills, construction, pesticides, tractors, concrete pours, chainsaws, and deforestation. At greatest risk appear to be ground nesters and waterfowl.

The whole point of the MBTA was to make businesses think before clear cutting or being careless with their emissions.

Of course it’s their fault if their actions kill birds. Every business and individual has the duty to anticipate unintended consequences and prevent them.

This unfortunate new interpretation of the decades-old protection means that many species of birds will head towards extinction on an accelerated basis.

What you can do

Please use this form to contact your local law makers and express concern about the disembowelment of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

Make pet stores sell rescues!

California has already passed a law that prohibits pet stores from selling animals born and raised in mills. And other states are following suit.

Many cities have also enacted laws that protect animals from the cruelties of the pet trade. You can find a list of cities that have implemented laws that force big box pet stores, like Petco and PetSmart, to sell only rescued animals here: Cities that require pet stores to sell rescues.

These laws are important because they will put puppy mills out of business. And puppy mills need to go. Many breeders do not provide adequate care for their animals. And, if an animal doesn’t sell, they dump it on a rescue organization or kill it.

Recently, in the Midwestern United States, a Siberian Husky puppy was surrendered to a rescue because it didn’t have enough blue in its eyes, for example.

Animals taken out of the wild

While putting puppy mills out of business is worthwhile, even more important is cracking down on the trade in wild animals.

Parrots continue to be taken out of their nests as babies and transported to pet stores and other markets.

The United States has many laws that prohibit import of wild animals as pets. But the consumer will never know, exactly, where an animal really came from.

For example, when you buy a snake or turtle at PetSmart, you may hope it came from a responsible breeder.

But turtles, lizards, and snakes are sitting ducks and far too easy simply to trap and sell. Why would a breeder take all the trouble of mating two animals and hoping they make babies when he can simply go into the woods or swamps and pick up some red-eared turtles?

Requiring puppies to be rescues does not go far enough

In crafting legislation to save pets and wild animals from suffering, state and city legislators need to be careful to restrict the sale of ALL live animals.

Making pets of wild animals is morally irresponsible. Reptiles are far too vulnerable to poaching. The sale of reptiles should be stopped altogether.

Parrots seem like wonderful pets, and they do bond with people. But before you buy a parrot, consider that it was probably pulled from its nest as a chick. It has been removed from its habitat, where it would have flown free.

It has been deprived of its family. And it has been deprived of the opportunity to mate and raise babies of its own.

The same thing is true of other tropical birds, snakes, lizards, and turtles.

What you can do

Don’t buy animals that belong in the wild. Cats, dogs, pet rabbits, and guinea pigs are domestic animals that exist in abundance and are often destroyed for lack of a home. Adopt those animals.

If you must have a bird, adopt a muscovy from a rescue organization. Be aware that, if you get a male and female muscovy, you will soon have twenty.

Sign petitions

Please sign this petition asking the US Congress to just make sale of live animals that aren’t rescues illegal at all pet stores:

Stop cruelty in pet stores

And please also sign this petition which specifically asks PetCo and PetSmart to stop selling wild animals:

https://www.thepetitionsite.com/takeaction/645/429/588/

Support legislation

Ask the mayor or a council member of your town to enact laws that require all pet stores to sell only rescue animals. Or ask your state legislature to enact state laws.

The following states need laws that protect animals from being bred or stolen and sold in pet stores:

Alaska

Alabama

Arizona

Arkansas

Connecticut

Delaware

Indiana

Iowa

Kansas

Kentucky

Missouri

Montana

North Carolina

Virginia

Wisconsin

 

 

Is Kentucky really worst in animal protections?

When I walk the streets of east Louisville, Kentucky, I see a town that loves its dogs. Dogs and their humans are everywhere: in the Morton Avenue Dog Park, in the dog friendly wine shops, at street festivals, at the patios of bars and restaurants.

On Nextdoor.com, my neighbors religiously track and return lost dogs and cats, sometimes before the owners even post the loss. My neighbors may or may not like me, but this is know: If I lost one of my dogs, they would form a dragnet to find her.

If my dogs were the only consideration, I would choose Louisville over a lot of cities, especially Denver and Miami where anti-pitbull laws are still in place.

 

good shot of alice

Is she or is she not a pitbull? If I lived in Denver, inexpert dog catchers would decide.

So it was something of a shock to learn that Kentucky has been rated dead last in protecting its critters by the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF).

Rankings are based on laws, not actions

It’s important to note that this poor ranking is not based on the way Kentucky families and farmers actually treat their animals. Kentucky’s poor showing is because of its laws.

When it comes to animals, Kentucky has committed some sins of omission. Sure, we have laws on the books that protect an animal from cruelty and fighting.

But we have no laws that protect animals from abandonment, neglect, and sexual assault.

Should we worry about our laws when, all around us, dogs and cats appear to be cherished?

Yes, we should. Because, at the end of the day, there’s no way to measure the total love for pets or the sum of care for livestock in any state. We are stuck with laws as a metric.

Our vets are gagged

Perhaps even more troubling is a law on Kentucky’s books that prevents veterinarians from reporting cruelty to animals when they see it.

People who are abusing dogs, cats, and bunnies are unlikely to seek veterinary care. The obvious victims of this law are Kentucky’s horses.

Does this gag law exist to protect someone who hurts his own racehorse for the insurance pay off?

We need to get off this list

Even if your heart doesn’t melt every time you see a puppy on Youtube.com, you should care about this issue. A state whose reputation is largely based on horses cannot afford to be the worst state on the AlDF’s list. Kentuckians need to reach across the isle and forge laws that better protect our non-human friends and family members.

Pet rescues drove me to shop for my dog

I’m sixty. But I have a baby. A twelve-week-old Siberian husky named Finn. He’s the last baby I’ll ever have.

“When we’re seventy, we’re going to adopt old dogs,” I told my husband. “The ones that people dump at the pound because they’re too old.”

My vet wants to know where I got Finn. This story always starts with the words, “Don’t judge me.”

That’s because I bought a dog from a family in my neighborhood who bred their pet husky.

Yes, I failed to adopt from a rescue.

Not for lack of trying. I filled out no fewer than five rescue organization applications. And this is what I found: Most rescue organizations are rather poorly run. What follows is the reader’s digest condensed version of my experience.

Pawsibilities–not recommended

I saw a dog on Petfinder.com that looked cute and ticked every box I was looking for: puppy, good with other dogs, good with cats, good temperament. The $850 price tag gave me some sticker shock, but, for a temperament-tested dog, it seemed worth it.

What was never disclosed to me in the application process was that this four-pound dog  would never get any bigger.

On Petfinder, the Pawsibilities pup was represented as an Australian shepherd/poodle mix. Based on this information, I expected a dog in the 25-40 pound range.

Nowhere on Petfinder did it say he was a miniature mini. And this was also not mentioned when I visited with the dog. It was finally revealed at the vet’s office.

Animal Care Society–not recommended

Animal Care Society is nationwide. They have an impossibly long application, and they respond to applications when they damn well please. They accepted twenty-five applications for the puppy I wanted.

Animal Care Society wants your veterinary records from the past ten years. They also want three character references IN ADDITION to your veterinarian’s reference. Animal Care Society’s buzzword is “Thank you for adopting, not shopping.”

But they are driving people to shop.

When I questioned these practices, they threw out my application.

Woodstock Animal Rescue–tentatively recommended

I almost adopted a puppy from Woodstock Animal Rescue. They were fostering a super-cute pointer puppy. But my eight year old dog introduced herself too aggressively. Then a so-called behaviorist on site said it would never work.

Southern Indiana Rescue–not recommended

Southern Indiana Rescue posted a picture and description of a white pit bull named Ace on Petfinder. He was described as good with dogs and good with cats.

Responding to my application, the rescue volunteer emailed that Ace had not been “cat tested” but that they were going to do that.

Then they lost my application.

Several weeks of radio silence later, I made a phone call. SI rescue then said that Ace was not good with other dogs or people.

I expressed interest in another dog fostered by that rescue. When I arrived at PetSmart, my dog barked at the other dogs in the store. Because of that, the SI rescue director told me that I needed to make her an only dog.

But I knew my dog was good with other dogs! I was a puppy foster myself! Here’s a picture of the puppy I fostered in Statesboro, Georgia:

relatestodogs

And to the left is my lab mix who helped me raise this puppy

This was the moment when I gave myself permission to buy a puppy from someone’s back yard.

What you can do: 

If you are adopting a dog, adopt from the ASPCA or your municipal pound or animal shelter. They are arguably more efficient and less subjective than start-up rescues.

Do not trust Petfinder.com about the age or size of the pet or its ability to get along with other animals.

If you run a rescue

Keep Petfinder.com pet profiles accurate and up-to-date. If you don’t know how a dog is with cats, do NOT check that the dog is cat friendly. If a dog is more than four months old, do NOT claim it is a puppy.

If you have already received ten or more applications for a pet, remove the Petfinder profile until you get up to date on responding to applications.

If you run a rescue and you receive twenty-five applications for a single dog, review every application and respond to every application. Don’t just throw the dog or cat at the first applicant in the pile, who has a fence and a veterinarian. This practice is not fair to all the applicants who took forty minutes to an hour to fill our your application. 

If you run a rescue, and you don’t have time to respond to applications or you tend to lose applications, dissolve your rescue and, instead, volunteer at a rescue organization that has its shit together.

Do NOT start a new rescue unless you have approximately thirty hours a week to devote to it, and you have a good record keeping system. Do NOT start a new rescue on the assumption that you are the only good dog owner in the world.

 

Get your solar panels now! While stockpiled supplies of Chinese panels last!

It may never be a better time to get solar panels for your home or business. Net metering has not gone away, and prescient solar installers still have reserves of low-cost Chinese solar panels.

As Trump was signing his tariffs on Chinese solar panels into law, solar installers like ICON, located outside Cincinnati, were deliberately stockpiling the cheaper, foreign panels.

ICON System Designer Jaye Meier says he wouldn’t call it “stockpiling.”

“I’d call it smart business,” Meier says.

ICON estimates that the installed cost of solar panels will rise ten percent, once tariffs affect local distributors and installers.

Despite those tariffs, the immediate future for solar is so bright, we’re hearing a term we never thought we would hear: “solar investors.” Depending on your state and the amount of sun exposure on your roof, solar panels will actually make a modest return on investment for some purchasers.

Businesses, in particular, can benefit. A tax policy called MACRS (Modified Accelerated Cost Recovery System) allows businesses to depreciate the cost of solar panels directly off their income over five years. Or, if it’s beneficial, a business can take one hundred percent of the costs off its one-year income, according to John Vann, a volunteer with Solarize Indiana.

Vann, himself, is getting his first installation of thirty solar panels. According to his calculations, they will pay for themselves over the next ten years. After that, “it’s free energy,” he says.

With incentives and a discount afforded by Solarize Indiana, his array will cost only $15,000.

You might not think of Ohio, Indiana, and Kentucky as sunshine states, but ICON started up in 2011, serving just those three states, and business has doubled every year.

“We get more sun than Germany where half the energy is from renewable, says Meier, suggesting that going solar in the U.S. is, maybe, more about will than sunshine.

ICON’s clientele is diverse. They get their expected share of college professors wanting to do the right thing.

But, “It’s not one type of person that I’ve seen,” Meier says. “We’ve got farmers who hate the utilities, got screwed over by them once or twice.”

The Indiana legislature has not incentivized solar power. Instead the state legislature has ruled that it will phase out net metering over the next ten years. Net metering is a system which reimburses solar investors for the excess energy they create at a retail rate.

In Indiana and other states, net metering will be replaced or has already been replaced with “net billing” which reimburses the same investors at wholesale rate. Home owners who take the solar challenge count on net metering to defray the initial outlay for solar power which typically costs something like $20,000 for a full array on an average-size house.

So eliminating net metering hurts the growth of the solar industry. And Trump solar panel tariffs could hurt it some more when stockpiles of Chinese panels run dry.

So why did the use of solar power in Indiana increase twenty percent last year despite politicians at every level legislating against it?

It helps that the cost of solar panels, across the board has fallen eighty percent since 2009, Vann says. And groups like Solarize Indiana are stepping into the breach, securing deep discounts that make solar installations attractive despite disincentives.

“Long term it might be detrimental. But now it might push people into going solar before that [tariffs and loss of net metering] goes into effect,” says Meier.