As a group, modern Republicans haven’t really been the staunchest supporters of the US clean energy movement. Although the party as a whole agrees with the Democrats on the principle of reducing the country’s reliance on foreign oil, it has advocated for aggressive exploration of the country’s own natural oil and gas reserves.
The party has also stated that it wants traditional energy/utility companies to form partnerships with emerging alternative energy companies. However, the vocal majority in the party also do not want the government spending tax payer’s money to fund research and development of emergent technologies in this industry.
Breaking the Mold
Due to their conservative stance on the topic, Republicans have unsurprisingly become the bad guys when it comes to US Clean Energy Investments. There are Republicans that are trying to break away from this mold though. Jay Faison, a Republican businessman from North Carolina, is just one among a growing number of Republicans who’ve come to realize that going green presents a lot of opportunities for economic growth. A Reuters report stated that currently, he has invested $165 million to a foundation called Clearpath whose objectives include educating centrist Republicans about the science behind climate change and the business opportunities that renewable energy sources (like solar) can potentially provide.
A Shift in Priorities
Republicans have always been of the opinion that completely transitioning to renewable energy will undermine traditional energy companies which would then have an adverse effect on an economy reliant on fossil fuels. Faison on the other hand believes that the US clean energy initiative needs more than twice the current investments it’s getting. To prove his point, he has even invested around $9 million in a three or four solar energy projects through Clearpath. Of course not all Republicans share Faison’s sentiments. This is why Clearpath isn’t just investing in alternative energy projects but also in changing this prevalent mindset among Republicans. The Clearpath website highlights the impacts and risks associated with the continued use of fossil fuels as well as the savings businesses and ordinary Americans can get if they shift to renewable energy.
Investing in the Future
Aside from investing in Clearpath, Faison has also contributed to Republicans who favor clean energy investments like South Carolina’s Lindsey Graham and Florida’s Jeb Bush. Both Bush (former governor of Florida) and Graham (South Carolina’s Senate representative) have publicly declared their intentions to run for the Presidency in 2016 and both also present compelling ideologies relating to clean energy. Regardless if the Democrats or Republicans win the elections next year, it’s important for the US to continue its investments and support of alternative and renewable energy solutions.
About Gordon Smith Gordon's expertise in the area of industrial energy efficiency and alternative energy. He is an experienced electrical engineer with a Masters degree in Alternative Energy technology. He is the co-founder of several renewable energy media sites including Solar Thermal Magazine.