Great Holiday Gift: Energy is a Big Uniter
New poll shows that energy is the big uniter, giving hope for a New Year with policies that cross the aisles.
The after election news has been chaotic. As Americans drift further apart, a recent poll conducted for the Conservative Energy Network by Public Opinion Strategies (POS) found more unity than might be expected. Glen Bolger, Partner at POS said that there isn’t a significant partisan difference between Republicans and Democrats when looking at energy policy.
”There’s not a lot of issues on which you can get this kind of support from both sides,” he added.
- Differences on the fuel mix that voters see as important in their future. Those tend to follow the fuel most likely to be available and cost effective in the voter’s region.
- Majority of support for a Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS), which mandates a percentage of fuel for electricity from clean energy. Ideologically very conservative Republicans — as opposed to conservative Republicans and other groups — are the only group against.
- Agreement across party lines for energy optimization standards which would require utilities to help customers reduce consumption through efficiency programs and products.
- State support for clean energy alternatives are very far in advance of the Federal Government.
- A majority would be willing to pay a little more to accelerate the growth of clean energy, with the exception of very conservator voters.
All of the Above
A surprising result of the poll is that Democrats are very much in favor of an ‘all-of-the-above’ strategy that would support a mix of fuels, as well as a majority of conservatives. For some liberals, any policy that includes nuclear as well as natural gas is not popular. Mr. Bolger added that in focus groups, Republicans were not ready to give up on coal and natural gas, but they also believe “if we’re not exploring clean energy alternatives then we’re dinosaurs.”
Mark Pischea, Executive Director of the Conservative Energy Network, remarked that the EPA will needs to find common ground for the Clean Energy Plan. The poll suggests that such an agreement is not out of reach, but that the EPA has failed to address the concerns of Republicans.
Mr. Pischea added that conservatives are not motivated by climate change, which is distracting because the conversation becomes about numbers and what is responsible, not about energy. Climate change focuses on the problem, where energy reform focuses on the solution.
What is motivating for conservatives is energy security, pollution, reducing imports from unfriendly nations, stable prices and energy efficiency. He went on to say that that de-politicizing energy was key. He hopes that the Trump administration will work with congress to come up with a plan that will accomplish the Clean Power Plan in a way that conservatives can embrace.
His remarks were supported by:
- John Karakoulakis, from The Western Way, noted that $200 bn will be spent on advanced energy. He believes it is time for Republicans to embrace a policy that ensures local jobs and investments.
- Mark Fleming, from Conservatives for Clean Energy emphasized the need to reduce dependence on fossil fuels, along with positioning states for the jobs and investments that strengthens local communities.
- Mike Franklin, Minnesota Conservative Energy Forum,noted that rank and file Republicans support energy reform at a local level. He believes clean energy is an opportunity to build bridge to independents and millennials.
The poll is important
- First because Republicans have been seen as in the thrall of big oil. The poll showed that there is a much more diverse set of values and goals, many of which are shared by Democrats.
- Secondly, the poll shows that Trump supporters care about clean energy, and will vote their beliefs in future elections.
- Finally, the poll is a call for Liberals to seriously examine the points of agreement, and be willing to build a coalition based on those points of agreement, compromising where needed on implementation.
Energy reform is not one-size-fits-all: we need the insights, innovation and passion on both sides to meet the energy needs of the future.