The Honorable Ed Rendell
Democratic National Convention
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
Remarks as Prepared for Delivery
It was eight years ago that George W. Bush and Dick Cheney came to Philadelphia to accept their party’s nomination. Onstage at that convention, we heard lots of talk about energy. The Republican platform itself called for expanding the renewable energy tax credit. But once elected, they broke their energy promises to the American people and let big oil determine our national energy policy.
The results of the Republican energy policy are plain. Back then, the price of gas at the pump was about $1.50 a gallon. Today, it’s $4 a gallon. Back then, it cost about $900 to heat your home through the winter. This winter, it’s more likely to be $2,500. Meanwhile, ExxonMobil just announced the largest quarterly profit in history. That’s not just an outrage. It’s obscene.
This happened because for the last eight years, the Bush-Cheney team stonewalled the taxing of oil company profits and prevented efforts to promote alternative energy production. And guess who voted with President Bush 90 percent of the time? Senator John McCain.
Now, as another Republican convention approaches, we are hearing more of the same: John McCain talking about alternative energy, energy independence and wind power. But if you look past the speeches, here’s what you see. Many of John McCain’s top advisors have worked as lobbyists for oil and gas companies. I guess that explains why he wants to give $4 billion in tax breaks to oil companies.
And if you look past the speeches to his record, it’s clear: John McCain has never believed in renewable energy and he won’t make it part of America’s future. For all his talk, here’s the truth: John McCain voted against establishing a national renewable energy standard. He voted against tax incentives for renewable energy companies. And for all his talk of drilling, he refused to endorse a bipartisan effort to expand domestic oil production because that bipartisan proposal would end tax breaks for big oil.
It’s clear: the only thing green in John McCain’s energy plan is the billions of dollars he’s promising in tax cuts for oil companies. And the only thing he’ll recycle is the same failed Bush approach to energy policy. We can’t afford more of the same. We need a strategy that puts America on a path to end the age of oil once and for all.
Pennsylvania knows something about energy leadership. Back in 1886, there was a Pennsylvania town that helped lead America into a new energy future when it created the nation’s first successful electrified streetcar system. It earned that town a nickname, the “electrical city.” The real name of that town is Scranton.
Today, a son of Scranton, Joe Biden, and a friend of Pennsylvania, Barack Obama, offer the change America needs to create a future free of foreign oil. Barack Obama and Joe Biden are committed to producing enough homegrown fuel to replace every drop of the oil we import from the Middle East and Venezuela in just 10 years. An Obama administration will invest $4 billion to keep America in the car-making business and give you a tax cut so you can buy a fuel-efficient car or truck. And it will commit to getting 1 million 150-mile-per-gallon cars on our roads within six years, and make sure they are built right here in America.
It will require that within four years, at least 10 percent of our nation’s electricity comes from alternative energy, and by 2025 we hit 25 percent. It will move immediately to make the renewable energy tax credit permanent and double the amount of energy that comes from renewable sources over the next four years.
It will invest $150 billion over the next decade to grow our energy supply and put 5 million Americans to work building solar and wind farms, clean coal gasification and geothermal plants, the kind of jobs that can’t be outsourced to India or China. It will bring everyone to the table-business, government and the American people-to reduce our demand for electricity 15 percent by the end of next decade. That’s the kind of change we need.
One person who understands what this can mean is a Pennsylvanian named Troy Galloway. Troy is a 44-year-old steelworker who was laid off after working for 15 years for the same company. But today, Troy is working in Pennsylvania for one of the largest wind energy companies in the world, and he’s earning as much as he earned at the steel mill. Troy’s new employer has more than 1,000 Pennsylvanians working green-collar jobs that pay well and have a future.
Why? Because in 2004, Pennsylvania set a standard which will require utilities to produce 20 percent of their electricity from clean renewable sources.
That’s the kind of change we need. That is what the future could look like with Barack Obama as president. If we can do it in Pennsylvania, we can do it in Ohio and Florida and Texas and New York and California. We can. And with Barack Obama and Joe Biden in the White House, we will.