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 Fall 2013

[FIRST PRINCIPLES]

A Green Tea Party?

By Kathleen Rest

In today’s polarized political environment, it seems special interests are attempting to subvert science at every turn. But this summer, we saw states across the country put partisan politics aside to cast their votes for a clean energy future.

In July, Georgia regulators voted to expand the use of solar in the state’s electricity mix. What’s notable about this victory is that conservative lawmakers and Tea Party members joined environmental and solar advocates in support of the measure, countering misinformation from Americans for Prosperity, an anti-science group whose predecessor organization helped the Tea Party movement get off the ground. This capped off a season in which 14 states passed or strengthened policies that will require utilities to supply an increasing amount of power from clean energy resources. Not a single state weakened or repealed their clean energy policies, despite numerous attacks from fossil-fuelfunded opponents, most notably the Koch-funded American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). (Read “Got Science?” to learn more.)

For years, we have worked to leverage these victories into a federal clean energy policy that benefits people in all states. We still have our work cut out for us, especially as industries pursue unconventional oil and gas development (including the use of hydraulic fracturing) that could lock us into could lock us into many more decades of pollution and global warming emissions. It is an uphill battle, but these state victories make it clear that solid data, not rigid ideologies, are becoming the tool of choice for shaping our energy future.

 

Kathleen Rest is executive director of UCS.