HARRISBURG – Gov. Edward G. Rendell today said the Senate’s energy bill falls far short of providing energy independence for Pennsylvanians.
More than 10 months ago, Rendell proposed a comprehensive energy package designed to accelerate Pennsylvania’s efforts to become a leader in the fast-growing clean and renewable energy economy.
“We need to protect consumers from the price shocks we are seeing in energy, gasoline, natural gas and heating oil,” Rendell said. “We also need to win the race to attract the jobs and investment that is flowing into the clean energy sector. And, we need to address the rapidly worsening threat of climate change.”
In his Sept. 24 address to kick off the special session on energy, the governor asked legislators to focus on two specific issues: the PennSecurity Fuels Initiative to boost homegrown, renewable fuels; and the $850 million Energy Independence Fund to invest in new technologies, businesses and products that either reduce energy use or produce clean, renewable energy.
“The action in the Senate this week was helpful in that it was action,” the governor said. “But, the package doesn’t go far enough to secure Pennsylvania’s position as a leading state in alternative energy production.
“The bill approved by the Senate creates an investment fund of $250 million,” he said. “Not only is this far short of the $850 million I proposed, it would make Pennsylvania’s clean energy fund smaller than the $300 million fund created by Rhode Island, a State with nine percent of our population.”
The governor also opposes the Senate bill’s provision to set aside $25 million for utility companies to comply with the laws that limit mercury pollution.
“It puts us in a position of paying the utility companies not to pollute,” Rendell said. “That’s just not right. The law is the law, and we all have to follow it.”
He called on members of the House to make improvements to the energy package and work out differences before sending the legislation to his desk.
During a news conference this afternoon, Rendell also indicated that he intends to sign Senate Bill 1100 in order to preserve the Hazardous Sites Cleanup Program and avoid the need to furlough approximately 130 Department of Environmental Protection employees.