Photo: Gage SkidmoreCross-posted from Climate Progress.
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 nonpartisan Civil Society Institute finds that 77 percent of Americans — including 65 percent 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 three to one. When asked about having to choose between only subsidizing clean energy or fossil energy, 38 percent of respondents said they’d choose renewables, while 13 percent would choose fossils.
Despite all the sweeping calls to end all subsidies to energy from presidential candidates, the poll shows that only 13 percent believe that’s a good idea. And remarkably, only 26 percent 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 Rep. 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 and Texas Gov. 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 super committee 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.
Get Grist in your inbox