How Republicans Could Change Their Mind On Climate Change: The Case Of “Red State” Renewables

Republicans tend to be skeptical of climate science and actions to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions out of concern for the negative economic impacts and the potential for more government regulation.

But the reality is that fighting climate change represents a generational business opportunity for the United States.  As I wrote recently, the required action will necessitate huge investments in everything from the electricity grid to the automobile sector.

Renewable energy in particular may be the “gateway drug” to get Republicans to support these investments.  Take wind energy, as the New York Times reports:

The five states that get the largest percentage of their power from wind turbines — Iowa, Kansas, South Dakota, Oklahoma and North Dakota — all voted for Mr. Trump. So did Texas, which produces the most wind power in absolute terms. In fact, 69 percent of the wind power produced in the country comes from states that Mr. Trump carried in November.

So it’s not surprising that representatives and senators from these states have been some of the strongest supporters of federal tax credits for renewables in congress.

Overall, the electricity sector is one area where states have a lot of sovereignty to push for low-carbon technologies.  Blue states in turn can encourage red-state action, which will help change the politics on clean technology in these states, as the clean tech industries mobilize and lobby their representatives.

A good example is the effort to integrate California’s grid with western states, as the New York Times story describes:

California and other Western states are discussing linking their electricity markets more closely, which would allow more renewable energy generated in the red states to flow to California consumers — and move California money into the pockets of red-state landowners.

Republican-led Wyoming, the nation’s largest coal-producing state, could be a prime beneficiary, with a proposed wind farm that would be one of the biggest in the world. The governors of Wyoming and California are discussing a deal, though both are nervous about giving up some control of their electricity markets.

That plan is held up by politics in California and a fear among these other states of having their grids controlled by California interests.  But for climate advocates, it could be not only a long-term energy strategy, but a political one as well.


One thought on “How Republicans Could Change Their Mind On Climate Change: The Case Of “Red State” Renewables

Comments are closed.