Monday, August 15, 2011

Which governor is ditching renewable energy?

A major state newspaper yesterday reported:

"The __________ administration is de-emphasizing renewable energy and energy conservation, eliminating programs created by previous Democratic and Republican administrations as it focuses on natural gas..."

How would you fill in that blank?

If you live in New Jersey you'll probably answer: Christie.

The administration of Governor Chris Christie has just finished a series of public hearings on a revised Energy Management Plan which would reduce the state's goal of using energy generated from alternative sources like wind and solar. The proposed plan supports what the governor's office has been actively pushing--the construction of new power plants fueled by natural gas--and also leaves the door open to the expansion of some of the state's nuclear energy facilities. Christie also is withdrawing the state from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) which provides funding for alternative energy technologies.

However, if you live in Pennsylvania, your likely answer would be: Corbett.

Which is correct?

Probably both.

Yesterday's story, from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, reports how the administration of Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett 
"quietly but systematically...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."
The newspaper says that the administration has also "forbidden state executive agencies from signing contracts that support clean energy supply."


"The administration says merely that any changes are part of a new approach of Gov. Tom Corbett's energy executive, Patrick Henderson, who has been overseeing development of the administration's Marcellus Shale gas policy. But environmental organizations and former DEP officials and staffers say the dismantling of successful programs promoting renewable and sustainable."

Could this be as nakedly political as it sounds? Well, let's recap:
  1. Renewable and sustainable energy programs are being chopped at the orders of a guy who's in charge of Marcellus Shale (natural gas) policy.  
  2. The Corbett Administration has been bending over backwards to do whatever it can for the natural gas drilling industry which contributed substantially to Mr. Corbett's election campaign.  
But why, a reasonable observer might observe, must renewable and sustainable energy development be downsized? Can't Pennsylvania be equally supportive of programs that generate energy from endlessly renewable wind and solar sources as those that require the extraction, treatment and transmission of nonrenewable natural gas?   

Why can't we have both?

It's a question that's relevant in both states. Why can't we have both? In fact, is it not irresponsible to exclusively support the exploitation of nonrenewable fossil fuel, knowing that the inevitable day will come when oil and natural gas runs out and the nation's energy needs will have to be met by renewable sources?   

Who is making these decisions that seem to fly in the face of common sense? And why? 

Tell us what you think in the comment box below. If one isn't visible, click on the tiny 'comments' link.

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