Conservatives join forces, seek a voice in energy-issues debate

New group wants energy choices to be 'all of the above'

  • Scott Blanchard

A group of political conservatives wants a voice in the state’s energy future.

For too long, they say, the energy debate has been claimed by the political left. But clean energy policies go well with conservative principles, and the forum gives conservatives a chance to be heard, said Executive Director Chad Forcey at a news conference Thursday to introduce the Pennsylvania Conservative Energy Forum

He said conservatives must “face the reality of a changing world.” The group’s goals, he said, include “to educate the public and policy makers about the vast economic, security and conservation benefits of clean, renewable energy, while also reminding our conservative friends and colleagues that sound clean energy policies are well within the scope of our conservative principles.”

Executives from solar- and wind-related companies, a pastor and a former head of the state’s environmental protection department are among those on the forum’s leadership council.

They’re calling for an “all of the above” energy strategy that includes renewables. Forcey said he hasn’t heard anyone say coal, for example, is “going to be around for years and years and years into the future.”

So, it’s important, he said, “But it is just one component. And eventually, as we exhaust fossil fuel resources, we’re going to need to be able to transition to additional sources of energy. And that’s why we’re talking about renewable energy.”

But the group doesn’t want to play favorites among energy sources — and doesn’t want government to, either. Former DEP secretary Jim Seif said one goal is to get rid of the term “alternative energy,” which is commonly used to refer to renewable or green energy.

“There is no alternative energy,” he said. “There’s energy that works and energy that doesn’t. And it’s all good if it works. We want to say that there is no ‘best’ energy.

We have to avoid anointing one kind of energy with incentives or permit requirements or permit breaks or any other kinds of burdens or pathways to success, and let them compete with one another.”

 Neither Forcey nor other group members brought up specific policy proposals Thursday.