Surprise: Clean Energy Benefits Red States Most

Submitted by dpeacock on October 12, 2013

Clean Edge recently posted an article by Clint Wilder describing the increasing levels of bipartisan support for clean energy technology in the past few months. One of the main pieces of evidence used to support this claim is a report from DBL Investors titled “Red, White and Green: The True Colors of America’s Clean Tech Jobs.” Many liberal members of Congress have been vocal in their support of clean energy for years, but the report states that it is in fact traditionally conservative states in the west and south that are quickly becoming champions of clean energy projects. Of the top 10 states with the fastest growth in clean tech jobs between 2003 and 2010, four states (Alaska, Nebraska, North Dakota and Wyoming) are solidly conservative and four more (Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico and North Carolina) have strong conservative influences.

The driving factor behind this shift is the job benefits that the clean energy industry has created. All of these states have created thousands of competitive jobs through wind, solar and biomass plants, which in turn helps boost the economy. Having thousands of new, well-paying jobs is especially important in a tumultuous economic time such as this, which is why state representatives have jumped at the chance to use the renewable energy resources found in their own backyards.

Clint Wilder then points out that is a shame that Mitt Romney and most of the GOP are not supporting the extension of the Production Tax Credit, despite years of evidence showing the positive benefits for employment across the United   States. It is actually red states that are disproportionally gaining jobs from the clean tech industry, which is why it is puzzling that almost all Republicans have refused to support clean energy and instead continue to cling to subsidies for oil and gas companies. Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin (R) has publicly stated her support for extending the PTC, while acknowledging that she supports Romney on virtually every other issue.

The fact that this issue has become so politicized is a shame for workers and families in places like Oklahoma, Indiana and Iowa who have already seen job losses in clean tech due to the threat of the PTC expiring. At a time when all jobs are essential for boosting the economy, it is disappointing that the national Republican party has chosen to lump the PTC in with other politicized “green energy issues” like Solyndra. By equating the PTC to Solyndra, the Republican Party is deceiving the American public into thinking that energy subsidies for clean technology are a waste of taxpayer money, when actually they are helping to create millions of jobs in an industry will soon be the future of energy production.

But it is important to remember that not all Republicans subscribe to the beliefs of Romney and the rest of the “mainstream” Republican Party. John Bohn, the former head of Moody’s Investor Services and the Export-Import Bank of the US, calls himself a card-carrying Republican who also happens to firmly support clean energy technology. There have been many studies that show that John Bohn is not the only conservative that thinks that clean energy technology and jobs are an important part of the future for the American economy. If more of these types of thinkers start to represent southern and western Republican districts, then there is a good chance that clean energy will start to become a bipartisan issue at the national level.

Research and writing by Matt Jennings

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