Anyone who cares about addressing climate change and strengthening America’s economic competitiveness knows that being anti-renewable energy is terrible policy. Turns out, it’s bad politics too.
A new poll conducted by ORC International for the non-partisan Civil Society Institute finds that 77% of Americans support — including 65% of Republicans surveyed — believe “the U.S. needs to be a clean energy technology leader and it should invest in the research and domestic manufacturing of wind, solar and energy efficiency technologies.”
The poll found that Americans support subsidies for renewable energy over fossil energy 3 to 1. When asked about having to choose between only subsidizing clean energy or fossil energy, 38% of respondents said they’d choose renewables, while 13% would choose fossils.
Despite all the sweeping calls to end all subsidies to energy from presidential candidates, the poll shows that only 13% believe that’s a good idea. And remarkably, only 26% of Tea Party members support that idea.
The Civil Society Institute explains the political significance of the findings:
If Congress thinks it has found a winning issue in trashing wind and solar power … and if the Obama Administration believes that voters will reward it for boosting coal, gas and nuclear power … then both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue are making serious miscalculations about the sentiments of mainstream Americans.
Even with such broad support for clean energy, Republicans like Congressman Cliff Stearns support continuing subsidies to oil, gas, coal and nuclear while pulling support for clean energy, saying “green energy isn’t going be the solution.” And Presidential Candidate Rick Perry recently called on the government to end all energy subsidies.
It’s unclear how this issue will play out in the coming months as the Congressional Supercommittee tasked with reducing the deficit unveils its plan. A number of groups across the political spectrum have called for $380 billion in cuts to energy subsidies — some in clean energy, but most of them in the fossil energy sector.
As members of Congress consider those cuts, it’s important to remember how supportive Americans are of clean energy.
- Bombshell: Democrats Taking “Green” Positions on Climate Change “Won Much More Often” Than Those Remaining Silent
- “Political candidates get more votes by taking a “green” position on climate change – acknowledging that global warming is occurring, recognizing that human activities are at least partially to blame and advocating the need for action – according to a June 2011 study by researchers at Stanford University.”
- Even Republicans Favor EPA Clean Air Rules that Republicans are Trying to Block
- Wake Up Democrats: Independents Support Federal Investment in “Green Jobs” 2-to-1 Despite Solyndra Media Storm:
“In dozens of focus groups we have conducted this month across the country on a wide variety of subjects, when voters are asked where they would like new jobs in their state to come from, the first words out of their mouths are almost always the same – clean energy and related technology. Voters believe that the clean energy economy is here and is growing, and they want their state to have a part of it.”