Thanks to a push from the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), I ran across this webpage where you can tell Donald Trump how you “want to Make America Great.” (Interestingly, “Again” has been removed from the campaign slogan.)
Trying to keep my input short but focused on topics that should resonate with Trump and his team, I wrote:
We have hundreds of thousands of solar and energy jobs, and tens of thousands of electric vehicle (EV) jobs — all of which help us to achieve energy independence while boosting our economy. I want to see hundreds of thousands more solar, wind, and EV jobs. Of course, you also can’t be a leading country for livability if you don’t have clean air and water and a livable climate, so I want to see stronger air, water, and GHG regulations from the EPA that will make the USA a top nation again in that regard — that will make America great again.
I can’t say that I’m super hopeful the message will get through — even if millions of people write something similar — but I think it’s more useful to reach out and try to make this case (in numerous ways) than to give up without trying.
The fact of the matter is: no matter what political group you look at, people overwhelmingly support:
- solar energy
- wind energy
- clean air
- climate action
- electric transport
Public Opinion Strategies recently published a great new report on this topic, based on a survey of over 1,000 American voters (h/t Stephen Lacey and Bob Wallace).
Some of those key findings are highlighted below. The charts speak for themselves, so I’m just adding subheadings and short intros with a few additional thoughts and context. However, I also end with some thoughts on why pro-pollution, anti–clean energy politicians routinely get elected to top Republican positions despite voter support for clean energy.
86% of Voters Support Clean Energy Action,
Including 72% of “Base GOP” & 82% of “Soft GOP”
This has been the case for years, decades even. Supporting clean energy sources that don’t create deadly pollution is just common sense, even more so now that solar and wind are often cheaper than all other options!
Perhaps this isn’t what will make the majority of people vote for a candidate, but it’s certainly a topic that just about any candidate can openly support and promote — especially connecting it with more jobs and lower health care costs. The problem — and reason why Republican politicians don’t do so — is that Republican politicians are heavily funded by polluting fossil fuel industries.
75% of Trump Voters Support Clean Energy Action!
Yes, even Trump voters heavily support clean energy action. Again, this is not surprising — you have to be extremely fringe to oppose clean energy action.
61% of Trump Voters Want More Emphasis on Solar Energy, 56% More Emphasis on Hydropower, 52% More Emphasis on Wind Energy
This one is important because it’s more specific and stronger than general “support” for clean energy action. Again, the majority of Trump voters actually think that more emphasis needs to be placed on solar energy, hydropower, and wind energy — as well as natural gas, unfortunately.
This is even after an 8-year Obama presidency in which solar energy and wind energy were heavily supported and grew like gangbusters.
Only small minorities want less emphasis on solar, wind, and hydro.
Renewable Portfolio Standards (aka Renewable Energy Standards) Heavily Supported by Voters
Getting to more specific policies is even more valuable. One of the top such policies that pushing quicker renewable energy adoption by utilities across the country is what’s referred to either as a Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) or Renewable Energy Standard (RES). An RPS/RES requires that utilities get a certain percentage of their electricity from renewable energy sources — often with specific requirements by type of energy source (solar, wind, biomass, hydro, etc.) and size of the projects (rooftop projects versus big solar/wind farms, essentially). As you can see, this still gets a lot of support except among “very conservative” voters.
Solar Net Metering Heavily Supported by Voters
Solar net metering is another giant in the world of pro-solar policy. Despite the effort of utilities to characterize it as something else, net metering is a very fair system of compensating solar power system owners for excess electricity they send to this grid. This is often done at retail electricity prices, and numerous studies on the value of solar power have found that is appropriate given the grid stability, grid reliability, grid efficiency, air quality, and climate livability benefits of rooftop solar energy. In fact, studies have found that rooftop solar energy is worth more than retail electricity prices if you genuinely take all of these factors into account.
Even “Base GOP” voters support net metering as “fair.” However, I’m a bit disappointed that the percentages aren’t much higher across the board. We need to do a better job of educating people on the broad benefits of rooftop solar energy.
No Group Wants to Support an Anti–Clean Energy Candidate
If a candidate is pro-renewables, she/he should loudly proclaim that.
If a candidate’s opponent is not pro-renewables, this should also become a highlight of the former’s campaign.
Plain and simple facts show that clean energy is an excellent wedge issue.
This topic is more important for moderates and base democrats, but it’s also important for a large majority of GOP voters.
Stick the wedge in, hammer at it repeatedly, and enjoy the juice that victory juice results.
Energy Topics Still Don’t Drive Votes As Much As Other Topics
Sadly, despite the voting public generally using their common sense when responding to polls about energy topics, most voters aren’t heavily motivated (yet) around these energy topics and don’t demand common sense from all candidates.
Additionally, as I highlighted above, pro–clean energy candidates should do a much better job of highlighting 1) their support for this, 2) the broad benefits of clean energy (to health, jobs, the economy, consumer costs, and a livable climate), and 3) the anti–clean energy tendencies, statements, and political record of their opponents!
Until they do so, they won’t make it a strong wedge issue.
By the way, along those lines, I think this article and the two charts below from Open Secrets also deserve many more views: “30 Cases Of Anti-Humanity Extremism From Republicans In Congress & Donald Trump.” There’s a reason why ~100% of coal, oil, and gas companies support Republicans and conservative groups ~100% of the time. It’s not because Republican politicians respect the wishes of their constituents on energy matters.
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