Rendell urges clean-energy advocates to support Obama

Former Gov. Ed Rendell spoke about the importance of green energy at the PennFuture 2012 Clean Energy Conference Friday.
Former Gov. Ed Rendell spoke about the importance of green energy at the PennFuture 2012 Clean Energy Conference Friday. (APRIL SAUL / Staff)
Posted: September 16, 2012

Former Gov. Rendell on Friday encouraged green-energy advocates to support President Obama, despite the lack of enthusiasm they might have with the president's environmental record.

Rendell, the keynote speaker at the PennFuture 2012 Clean Energy Conference at the DoubleTree Hotel in Center City, said there was "no question" that Obama supports a green-energy agenda.

The Democrat said he was concerned about complacency because polls show Obama leading in Pennsylvania.

"I want you not to believe for a second the fight here is over," Rendell told the audience of about 200 people, including representatives of nonprofits, government, and industry. He anticipates that political-action committees that support Republican Mitt Romney will flood the state with advertisements as the election nears.

Rendell said he believes most environmentalists will rally around Obama, despite reports indicating that fossil-fuel interests are outspending green advocates on political advertising this year, a reversal of the pattern from the 2008 election.

"They may not be as wildly enthusiastic as they were in 2008," Rendell told reporters after his speech. "But the last I checked, an enthusiastic vote counts the same as a tepid vote."

Rendell, who promoted legislation subsidizing the growth of renewable energy such as wind and solar projects, encouraged dispirited clean-energy advocates to persevere, despite the unpopularity of their agenda in Republican-dominated Harrisburg.

"Keep pushing, keep making the case and not giving up," he said. "Politics is not for the faint-hearted."

But Rendell also encouraged them to send a message to all Democrats to rein in legislators who fail to support their agenda by withholding financial support to the party committees.

"There have to be consequences," he said. "The problem with most political givers is they have short-term needs, so they continue to support people even if those people turn their backs when the chips are down."

But Rendell also urged environmentalists to show some moderation, particularly toward Marcellus Shale natural gas development, which he said had boosted the state's economy, and was better for the environment than the alternative - oil and coal.

"Everything's a balance," he said. "You have to be cognizant of that. When the environmental community takes positions that to the average person in the public seem to be anti-economic growth, you lose them. You lose them."


Contact Andrew Maykuth at 215-854-2947, @Maykuth on Twitter or amaykuth@phillynews.com.

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