Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Pennsylvania a lesson for Ontario on renewable energy

Pennsylvania's Republican Governor has gutted the renewable energy programs of his predecessor:
In Pennsylvania, where a major shale gas boom is underway, Governor Tom Corbett is doing exactly what renewable energy supporters feared, according to a recent story in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:
The Corbett administration is de-emphasizing renewable energy and energy conservation, eliminating programs created by previous Democratic and Republican administrations as it focuses on natural gas energy from booming Marcellus Shale.

Quietly but systematically, the administration has all but shut down the state Department of Environmental Protection’s Office of Energy and Technology Deployment — the state’s primary energy office — and removed directors and reassigned staff in the Office of Energy Management in the Department of General Services and the Governor’s Green Government Council.

It has also forbidden state executive agencies from signing contracts that support clean energy supply.
After many years of strong build-up of Pennsylvania’s renewable energy industry under former Democratic Governor Ed Rendell, is all that work being dismantled in the name of natural gas?

Rendell signed a renewable energy standard into law, created manufacturing incentives, and expanded rebates and loans for renewable energy projects – helping spur the creation of tens of thousands of jobs in the state. But some groups fear that is all being swept aside by the Corbett Administration:
One former DEP employee, who asked that he not be named because he continues to work on energy issues in Harrisburg, said of the Energy Office, “it’s being taken apart piece-by-piece and the pieces are being thrown away.”

“In the past 12 years, Pennsylvania has gone from having virtually no clean energy jobs to employing more than 106,000 Pennsylvanians in the clean energy industry, despite the national recession,” said Jan Jarrett, president and chief executive officer of Penn Future. “These program cuts and legislative attacks threaten to kill those good, family-sustaining jobs.”
That's the kind of road Tim Hudak wants to go down in Ontario, taking us backwards on green energy. Is that really what we want to see here?