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Green Elephants: The 14 Famous Conservatives who Love Clean Energy

 

Green Elephants: Conservatives that love clean energy

*Why Conservatives love clean energy*

Efficiency and Competition

The costs of technologies like solar have dropped enormously over the past few years, making renewables efficient and reliable. More renewables means more competition in the free market, which should drive down prices even more, benefiting customers.

Choice and Self-reliance

Electricity is dominated by regional monopolies across the United States. Renewables give customers more choices over their electricity purchases so they aren’t reliant on big utilities for their energy.

National Security

Clean energy can reduce our dependence on oil from volatile countries. The military is pumping billions of dollars into renewables to increase troop readiness and independence. It also makes us more prepared for major blackouts from cyber attacks or storms.

Job Creation in the Free Market

Clean energy is creating thousands of jobs every year and growing far faster than the economy. Last year, solar added 14,000 new jobs while fossil fuels cut over 3,000. Renewable energy investments also drive revenue for state and federal governments.

 

*The 14 Green Elephants*

1. Arnold Schwarzenneger

Arnold Schwarzenegger supports solar energy.

In 2011, the American Council on Renewable Energy named former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenneger “Renewable Energy Leader of the Decade.” At the time of the award, Scharzenneger had led California to becoming 40% more energy efficient than the rest of the United States. As governor, Schwarzenegger signed an executive order requiring renewables to power ⅓ of state energy production by 2020 and signed the “Million Solar Roofs” initiative. Among the many California companies helping to achieve these amibitous goals, Mosaic enables Schwarzenneger’s former constituents to invest in solar projects. Considered by many to be the greatest bodybuilder of all time, Arnold has said “I feel as passionate about this as I did about fitness.” (Photo courtesy Green Forward Blog.)

2. Barry Goldwater Jr. and TUSK (Tell Utilities Solar won’t be Killed)

Barry Goldwater Jr. and TUSK in favor of solar energy.

Utilities across the country are beginning to fear that household solar generation is a threat to their business model. In Arizona, some utilities are advocating a higher price charged on owners of solar panels, a move that could stifle the industry. A group called TUSK (Tell Utilities Solar won’t be Killed) is fighting against the utilities and is led by Barry Goldwater Jr. (former California Republican member of the U.S. House of Representatives and son of Barry Goldwater). Goldwater and Tusk argue that solar increases choice for Arizona energy customers, drives down costs and boosts the economy. (Photo courtesy Tell Utilities Solar won’t be Killed)

3. Chris Christie

Chris Christie in support of solar energy.

Even though it’s not in the sunny southwest, New Jersey has the fourth-highest solar capacity per capita and it was the third state with over 1 gigawatt of installed solar. Governor and potential 2016 presidential candidate Chris Christie has signed numerous bills to expand solar in the the Garden State. In July 2012, Christie signed what is referred to as the “resurrection bill” for solar in New Jersey, which accelerated a Renewable Portfolio Standard in the state by four years and promoted development of renewable projects. When he signed the bill he said,  “since my time running for office, I made it clear that my Administration would be unrivaled in our aggressive support for the development of renewable sources of energy in New Jersey. Renewable energy not only helps meet our goals of increasing sustainability and protecting the environment, but can be an engine for economic growth and the creation of good-paying jobs for the people of our state.” (Photo courtesy Earth Techling)

4. The Tea Party’s “Green Tea Coalition”

It’s as great as it sounds. The Green Tea Coalition an alliance co-founded on August 6th by Debbie Dooley, who is also the co-founder of the Atlanta Tea Party, includes members of the Sierra Club, Occupy Atlanta, NAACP, and the Atlanta Tea Party Patriots. The Green Tea Coalition is fighting back against a campaign run by the Koch Brothers’ funded American’s For Prosperity, which is pushing to block renewables in the state of Georgia. The Tea Party activists in the green tea coalition don’t see any contradiction between the free market and renewables, in fact they believe renewables are a way to break up the energy monopoly, increase choice and energy security, and protect the environment. (Photo courtesy the Green Tea Coalition)

5. Arizona Governor Jan Brewer

Arizona Governor Jan Brewer with the Solar Impulse team.

The Republican Governor of Arizona strongly supports renewable energy tax credits and believes the solar industry can bring thousands of new jobs and investments to her state. In 2012, she said “I am thrilled to see our great state at the forefront of this promising industry, and I look forward to Arizona further establishing itself as our nation’s Solar Capital.” (Photo Courtesy Solar Impulse)

6. Evangelical Church Leaders

Evangelical leaders believe in a religious duty to protect the earth

In 2006, numerous evangelical church leaders (many, but not all, conservative) signed the Evangelical Climate Initiative which linked the climate crisis to Christian biblical ideals like “love your neighbor as yourself” and “any damage that we do to God’s world is an offense against God Himself.” Signed by Rick Warren, 39 Evangelical college presidents, and the head of the Salvation Army, the statement asserted that we must act with market mechanisms like Cap and Trade programs to fight dangerous anthropogenic climate change. In 2008, Pat Robertson appeared with Al Sharpton in a commercial advocating protection of the planet. (Photo courtesy Evangelical Climate Initiative)

7. Newt Gingrich

Newt Gingrich is the author of A Contract with the Earth

The former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives and presidential candidate has been outspoken about the environment over the past 40 years. In 1976, he coordinated the development of the Environmental Studies Program at the University of West Georgia. In 2007, Gingrich co-authored “A Contract with the Earth.” Full of God’s green earth imagery, the book argued that environmental protection was crucial to a healthy democracy and economy. During his tenure in congress, Newt was known as a “green conservative” and defended acts that protected endangered species. Newt currently has hundreds of thousands of dollars invested in clean energy and biofuels. Newt publicly supports cap and trade programs. Arguing that “free enterprise is not the enemy of the environment; it is the engine that will drive promising alternatives to failed practices,” many of Newts proposals are carrots rather than sticks, like billion-dollar prizes for revolutionary clean energy innovations. Gingrich is a controversial figure in the environmental movement as some advocates claim his 1994 “Contract with America” had many environmentally damaging consequences. He has also called for the dismantling of the E.P.A. (Photo Courtesy Barnes and Noble)

8-12 Texas, Iowa, Kansas, South Carolina, Georgia

Many red election states have strong clean energy inititatives

  • Texas

    • Texas has a strong renewable portfolio standard and over 10 GW of renewables. They are the largest wind-power state in the country (more on Texas below).

  • Iowa

    • Republican Governor Terry Branstad is a wind-power leader – wind supplies ⅕ of the states energy and employs 7,000 people.

  • Kansas

    • Kansas signed a renewable portfolio standard in 2009 calling for 20% of peak demand capacity by 2020. Republican Governor Brownback said “I want Kansas to be known as the Renewable State.” This isn’t surprising seeing as wind energy produces 12,000 jobs and landowners get over $13 million annually from land rents already in Kansas.

  • South Carolina

    • In South Carolina, all buildings must comply with International Energy Conservation code, schools and state buildings must reduce energy consumption by 20 percent by 2020 and all new State buildings must be certified LEED silver or better. South Carolina senator Lindsey Graham has said “the green economy is coming. We can either follow or lead. And those countries who follow will pay a price. Those nations who lead in creating the new green economy for the world will make money.”

  • Georgia

    • The conservative-led Public Services Commission (PSC) decided in 2013 that the state’s largest utility, Georgia Power, needs to add in 525 megawatts of solar in the next 3 years. The plan was introduced by Republican Commissioner Lauren “Bubba” McDonald, Jr. This is also the birthplace of the Green Tea Party, mentioned above. (Photo courtesy berkeley.edu)

13 & 14. Former Texas Governors Rick Perry and George Bush

Texas has the most wind power generation of any state in the U.S.

Yeah, those guys. When George Bush was the Texas governor in 1999, he supported a new mandate that Texas needed to add 2,000 megawatts of renewable energy by 2009. When this goal was already exceeded in 2005, governor Rick Perry supported new goals of nearly 6,000 megawatts by 2015 and 10,000 by 2025. Texas reached the 10,000 MW goal by 2012 and is the largest wind-power generating state in the U.S. (Photo courtesy Earth Techling)

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Jacob Sandry is an Energy Studies scholar at Yale University and fellow at Mosaic. He has worked in Colorado to protect endangered waterways and in Bolivia to protect animals rescued from the black market. Jacob has been to 5 continents, but originally hails from Minnesota where he developed his appreciation for the environment by camping, hiking, and running. Follow him on twitter @yaakovsandry.

 

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