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Elaine Labalme
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New Poll Shows Overwhelming Support for Energy Independence

96% Support Investing in Renewable Energy;
Voters by 2:1 Margin Willing to Pay Fee for State’s Energy Investment

Harrisburg, PA—(June 18, 2007)—A poll of Pennsylvania’s registered voters released today by Citizens for Pennsylvania's Future (PennFuture) shows a virtual consensus throughout the state in favor of the Energy Independence Strategy (EIS), currently before the Pennsylvania General Assembly. This stunning support, unprecedented in scope and size, was expressed by both Republicans and Democrats; by conservatives, liberals and moderates; by women and men; and by Pennsylvanians from every part of the state.
 
“This overwhelming tidal wave of support makes it clear that Pennsylvanians want bold action on energy – and they want it right now,” said John Hanger, president and CEO of PennFuture. “Voters are fervently in favor of doing everything we can to bring more clean energy into the state. They want tools to save on energy themselves. And – even though some are worried about taxes – they support, by a 2:1 margin, paying to make our state clean, green and energy independent.

“With the EIS implementing legislation now before the General Assembly, our elected leaders have a clear directive from the voters to pass the bills now, without delay and without crippling amendments,” continued Hanger.

The poll was released as the Pennsylvania House of Representatives is poised to vote on the package of four bills which comprise the EIS as proposed by Governor Rendell. A number of amendments have been proposed, with several amendments of particular concern for supporters. These amendments would kill renewable energy requirements in the state’s clean energy law by adding waste coal, tires and paper pulp mill waste into Tier I of the Alternative Energy Portfolio Standards. Tier I currently requires Pennsylvania’s electricity suppliers to provide increasing amounts of clean energy, including solar, wind, low-impact hydro, geothermal, fuel cells, biomass and methane from farms and landfills. By adding dirty power sources to the clean requirements, true clean renewable energy will be squeezed out of the market.

“Those attempting to gut renewable energy in Pennsylvania should heed these poll results,” said Hanger. “The voters’ desires couldn’t be clearer:  Pennsylvania’s government should take bold action to spur a new energy economy, rather than prop up old polluting technologies.”

Key findings of the poll include:

•    Most Pennsylvanians want more action on energy conservation. A combined 94 percent of voters are concerned about the rising costs of fuel oil, natural gas, gasoline and other traditional sources of energy. Four out of five (82 percent) say they are concerned about global warming and the impact of heat-trapping gases on the environment. And 96 percent think it is important for consumers and businesses to increase their use of alternative sources of energy like wind, solar, low impact hydropower and others as a way to reduce our dependence on foreign oil.

•    Voters overwhelmingly support state incentives to encourage investment in alternative energy sources. Pennsylvania voters, by a 77/15 margin, believe it is “good public policy” to invest tax money in the development of renewable energy sources. More than two-thirds, 67 percent, support the use of tax money to encourage both biodiesel and ethanol fuel plants to locate in Pennsylvania. Nearly nine out of ten, 87 percent, believe that the state should take steps to attract clean energy companies to Pennsylvania to increase our domestic fuel supplies.

•    Pennsylvanians support the creation of the Energy Independence Fund. By a better than 2:1 margin, most Pennsylvanians support paying a public benefits charge on their electricity bills of about 45 cents a month to grow our renewable energy economy. This support runs across party lines (Republican support is at 67 percent, Democrats at 73 percent, Independents at 66 percent), ideology (conservatives at 67 percent, liberals at 76 percent and moderates at 69 percent), gender (women at 72 percent, men at 64 percent), age (support by 18-29 year olds is 77 percent, 30-44 year olds at 72 percent, 45-59 year olds at 69 percent and those 60 and older at 65 percent), region (northwest Pennsylvania voters support the fee by 65 percent, southwest by 61 percent, the T central by 66 percent, northeast by 70 percent, southcentral/Harrisburg by 66 percent, southeast by 74 percent and Allegheny County and Philadelphia by 65 and 73 percent respectively) and income (68 percent of those earning less than $50,000/year support the fee, 71 percent of those earning $51,000 to $99,000, and 73 percent of those earning $100,00+). This consensus in support for the new fee is extraordinary, given that taxes was the issue identified by the largest group of voters as the single most important problem facing Pennsylvania.

The EIS is intended to move Pennsylvania’s green energy use forward, building on the requirements of the state’s clean energy standards. Four bills are under legislative consideration that would implement the goals of the EIS. The bills would expand the powers of the Pennsylvania Energy Development Authority (PEDA) to administer EIS programs and monies; authorize the Public Utility Commission to order energy conservation and electricity load management programs and create the public benefits charge for the Energy Independence Fund; create the PennSecurity Fuels Initiative and amend the Alternative Energy Portfolio Standard to ensure that energy efficiency will supplant the need for additional power plants.

The poll of 750 registered Pennsylvania voters was conducted by Susquehanna Polling and Research of Harrisburg from June 7 through June 9, 2007. The margin of error is +/- 3.58 percent. The full poll and a memo on the results from the pollster are available online at www.pennfuture.org.

PennFuture is a statewide public interest membership organization that advances policies to protect and improve the state’s environment and economy.  PennFuture’s activities include litigating cases before regulatory bodies and in local, state and federal courts, advocating and advancing legislative action on a state and federal level, public education and assisting citizens in public advocacy.



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