We told you recently that right-wing efforts to overturn state-level renewable-energy mandates have been failing across the nation. Here’s one big reason why: Many conservatives actually like the mandates.
Conservatives fighting against alternative-energy mandates—which they see as unwarranted and costly market interference—are losing ground even in some Republican-controlled states, where legislatures are standing behind policies that force electric utilities to buy renewable energy.
Some of the most vocal support for the policies is coming from an unlikely corner: farmers who see profit in rural renewable-energy projects.
Of the 29 states that require the use of wind, solar and other renewable power sources, at least 14 considered proposals this year to significantly water down or repeal the policies. None have become law yet, with many legislative sessions adjourned until next year.
In North Carolina, state Rep. Mike Hager (R) pushed to repeal the state’s renewable requirement, but his effort failed.
Mr. Hager said his colleagues were swayed by the prospect of local jobs in the renewable-energy sector. “It’s hard to be conservative when it affects your district,” he said in an interview.
In some of the debates over renewable mandates, local people who would benefit from increased job prospects and decreased pollution are pitted against the Koch-backed group Americans for Prosperity, which pretty much hates renewables in all cases. That was the situation in Georgia last week, as we reported at the time: Tea Party Patriots pushed through a plan to require the state’s largest utility to increase its use of solar power, despite opposition from AFP.
The Journal reports that AFP was also active in the fight over North Carolina’s renewable mandate:
The repeal’s primary advocates in North Carolina were groups with financial backing from outside the state, such as the conservative political-action group Americans for Prosperity, which also lobbied against such mandates elsewhere. Dallas Woodhouse, the group’s North Carolina director, said he believed Republicans opposed the mandate in principle, but the prospect of jobs is “intoxicating for a lot of legislators” at a time of high unemployment.
Americans for Prosperity has taken funding from the fossil-fuel industry, which competes with renewables.
Imagine that: Even some conservatives prefer job-boosting policies over ideological fealty to dirty energy.