Excerpts from recent editorials in Ohio:
Sept. 22, The Toledo Blade on cutting edge research
Northwest Ohio has taken a few steps forward in the nation’s energy development, with recent federal research grants on hydrogen.
The Davis-Besse nuclear power plant near Oak Harbor, which was slated to close until an Ohio General Assembly bailout bill passed this summer, snared a $9.2 million U.S. Department of Energy grant to develop a hybrid energy system with a light-water reactor to produce hydrogen.
Separately, the University of Toledo received a $750,000 Energy Department grant to develop a process using sunlight to separate hydrogen from oxygen in water so that the hydrogen can be used as fuel.
Both investments show the federal agency has confidence in research in the Toledo area.
At Davis-Besse, which also will receive $2.3 million from four other partners, the project is to determine whether production of hydrogen at the plant is feasible and economical. If the testing in the pilot program proves fruitful, it could lead to a reliable alternative energy source for the country and a new revenue stream for Davis-Besse and other nuclear power facilities nationwide.
The Ottawa County plant applied for the funding this year, as its survival hung in the balance. Ohio lawmakers decided to keep it and another FirstEnergy nuclear plant in northeastern Ohio by tacking on a fee on every state resident’s electric bill to subsidize the plants. This Energy Department project likely would not have happened at Davis-Besse if not for the passage of that bill in Columbus.
The UT grant funds a three-year program by its physics department to develop new ways of separating hydrogen in water, using a crystal structure that is good at absorbing sunlight and efficiently splitting out hydrogen.
UT was among 29 universities and organizations receiving a piece of the $40 million the Energy Department awarded for hydrogen research.
UT’s photoelectrochemical water splitting technology, if it can be perfected, can provide affordable and reliable large-scale hydrogen generation and possibly be used in the United States as fuel for vehicles and for electric grids servicing homes and businesses.
Both local projects are part of a potentially vital evolution in the nation’s power supplies. The country produces 10 million tons of hydrogen, nearly one-seventh of the world’s supplies, primarily for oil refining and fertilizer. But the local research may provide for many other uses.
Northwest Ohio has helped develop successful solar technology and these latest research projects show we may play a key role in hydrogen energy technology for the nation.
Sept. 20, The Marietta Times on use caution in drug decisions
Critics of legalizing marijuana for medicinal purposes warn that doing so can result in an onslaught of requests for prescriptions from people who want the drug solely for recreational purposes. Good for the Ohio Medical Board for rejecting one potential avenue of such attempts at deception.
On Wednesday, board members voted against adding anxiety and autism spectrum disorders as grounds for seeking medicinal marijuana prescriptions. Ten states allow purchase of medicinal marijuana for anxiety. Another 22 permit its use by those diagnosed with autism spectrum.
Board members are right to be concerned not just about people faking anxiety to get marijuana, but also about how the drug affects some people. In rejecting that petition, the board noted marijuana can provide temporary relief from anxiety for some people — but it also can cause panic attacks.
Regarding use of the drug for those with autism, board members also are on solid ground. They cited concern about marijuana’s effects on children’s developing brains.
Good work. It takes little imagination to conceive of the reaction to permitting patients being treated for anxiety to obtain medicinal marijuana. An increase in the number of Buckeye State residents scheduling doctors’ appointments with claims of experiencing anxiety all the time would result.
Medical board members left open the door to reconsidering their decisions in the future. That, too, is wise. No one knows what scientific evidence may come up in the future. For now, however, the right decisions were made.