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Governor Ed Rendell (D-PA) pleads with Bush to develop alternative fuels

Call can give winter heating advice
HARRISBURG -- State officials have set up a toll-free telephone number that Pennsylvanians can use to get help and information about winter heating bills.

Gov. Ed Rendell said yesterday that by calling 866-550-4355, residents can get information about paying their heating bills, fixing residential heating systems, restoring utility services and finding shelters in their area. Mr. Rendell said the toll-free number is part of his "Stay Warm PA'' initiative, which is meant to "help people survive this winter,'' when heating costs are due to rise sharply.

"With cold weather upon us,'' the governor said, "we need to remember the families who may not be as fortunate as our own and we must do what we can to help them avoid having to choose between food or fuel."

[Here’s a key passage from the December 1 speech by Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell (D) at the National Press Club:

BP and Shell and the other international energy companies are making investments in alternative energy because they have seen the data.   And the data is nothing short of startling.  First of all, whether we are going to run out of oil anytime soon is not the question.  Regardless of who you believe about the size of the world’s remaining oil supplies, at some point in the next 25 or 50 years the price of extracting oil will make it impractical as a major fuel source.  I hope the more optimistic scenarios are correct, but even if they are, the time for us to take action is short.

And the same is true for natural gas.  You cannot miss the weekly articles detailing the shortage of natural gas.  The most telling quote I’ve seen was Owen Kean’s statement in his role as a senior advisor to the American Chemistry Council.  He said, "We were fat, dumb and happy because everybody thought that the supply was never-exhaustible."  The chemical industry, steel companies and the American family are finding that natural gas prices may soon be beyond their reach.  Gas that was selling for $4-per-million BTUs a few years ago is now selling for $11. 

Rendell’s doing whatever he can to keep his state on its feet. His main drive is for “clean” coal gasification plants, but he’s also pushing hard for solar and ethanol. FTW will never tire of re-stating one central fact: no change on the energy supply side can save lives without a serious change on the demand side. One after another, the smarter public servants are figuring this out, and Rendell seems to be one of them. Politicians who want to help will be most effective in developing fuel alternatives with people who can make money by building better energy enterprises. Those will likely be unsustainable, and they can’t change the fact that “economic growth” is destroying the world. But they may help to offset the steep social declines that depletion and debt will bring. We need that, and that is what state governments can do. But the real lifesavers will be the local initiatives that move powerdown forward. That has to be done by city councils and town planning organizations, as they change zoning laws and appropriate funds and land for large scale gardening, build housing closer to workplaces, convert parking garages to dual use buildings and green areas, and drive out big box retailers. Pennsylvania will be better off growing its own soy based ethanol than importing Saudi crude. But that still won’t give it a future. The big energy saver is right under their noses, but it requires new thinking: take the vast agribusiness monocrops apart. Instead of growing soybeans to ferment and burn in the gas tanks of food trucks that bring in apples from New Zealand – break big agriculture into smaller, more evenly distributed, locally owned fields, grow a balanced array of food crops there, and do something really innovative with the food: eat it.

In these dark days, remember: every little bit helps. –JAH]

Governor Ed Rendell (D-PA) pleads with Bush to develop alternative fuels

By Ann McFeatters
Post-Gazette National Bureau
Friday, December 02, 2005

In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.

WASHINGTON -- Gov. Ed Rendell, who has solar panels on the governor's residence, made a pitch for more alternative fuels yesterday in a speech at the National Press Club here and in a letter to President Bush.

In his letter to Mr. Bush, the governor compared his call for the nation to adopt Pennsylvania's "American Energy Harvest" program to promote new energy sources and lessen dependence on foreign oil to Franklin D. Roosevelt's Manhattan Project to develop the first atomic bomb and John F. Kennedy's challenge to put a man on the moon.

In remarks at the press club which he read verbatim to avoid, he explained, making mistakes, Mr. Rendell said the federal government should use regulatory and legislative power to require utilities to use alternative fuels.

He said the government should use its purchasing power to promote private investment in new energy technology and suggested it buy hybrid cars, which don't run on gasoline alone. He said subsidies to oil companies now making large profits should be transferred to alternative fuel production, which, he promised, would mean the program would need no new federal money and would not add to the nation's deficit.

Alternative energy is no longer "a fringe idea," he said.

He noted that China is building synthetic fuel plants from coal waste and the European Union is already 5 percent dependent on biofuels for cars and expects one out of five cars will be powered that way in 15 years. Ireland's economic growth "has literally been fueled by wind power," he said. And he praised Brazil, which says it will no longer import any oil by the end of next year.

"In 1859, the first successful oil [company] started pumping black gold in Titusville, Pa., and a short time later Andrew Carnegie staked his claim in coal and used it to build the American steel industry. Today, Pennsylvania companies are sending $30 billion a year outside our state -- and in most cases, outside our nation -- to buy energy. Think of the impact if we could keep that $30 billion in Pennsylvania, if we brought homegrown energy," he said.

What the plan needs most, he wrote the president, is "strong leadership ... If you provide this type of leadership, I believe you will find truly bipartisan support ready and willing to work with you. With that support we can make such substantial progress that this effort can become a significant part of your legacy as president."

But after his speech Mr. Rendell said, "You know, I don't expect to get a call from the president tomorrow saying, 'Ed, this is a great idea; can you get down to Washington this afternoon?' I'll be ready, but I don't expect to get it."

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