Individual elected Republicans have stood up in support of the wind energy production tax credit, even if it means cozying up to folks like the Sierra Club and Natural Resources Defense Council. But now wind-friendly Republicans have a wind-backing group they might feel more at home with: the new Red State Renewable Alliance.
The group, launched this week, is headed up by John Feehery, a Washington, D.C.-based Republican consultant, strategist and pundit (you know how that works in the capital) who has stints as the communications man for former House Speaker Denny Hastert and former Majority Leader Tom DeLay on his resumé.
“Studies show that the wind energy production tax credit pays for itself, cuts utility costs for consumers and we all know that it is a clean energy resource,” Feehery said in a statement. “We at the Red State Renewable Alliance will tell the story of wind energy and the wind PTC in new and innovative ways, and we will convert the doubters out there.”
The group notes that 75 percent of U.S. wind capacity is in Congressional districts held by Republicansl that 67 percent of wind manufacturing plants are in GOP districts; and that 71 percent of districts held by Republicans have either wind turbines or component manufacturing facilities.
Red State Renewable Alliance comes on the scene at a time of considerable soul-searching among Republicans about the degree to which the party seems fundamentally at odds with a changing electorate. As the party struggles to become less repellent to woman and various minorities, might it also temper the anti-renewables stance that gripped it like a fever through much of President Obama’s first term?
It might not be a bad idea. A new survey shows that independent voters – and even Republicans – might be opening their eyes to the climate change threat. Pollster John Zogby just reported that “half of Republicans, 73 percent of independents and 82 percent of Democrats” are worried about the growing cost and risks of extreme weather disasters fueled by climate change, a big shift from a poll three years ago that “showed two-thirds of Republicans and nearly half of political independents saying they were ‘not at all concerned’ about global climate change and global warming.” And renewable energy isn’t looking too bad to these folks, Zogby said:
Asked to pick the highest priority to help solve America’s energy challenges, twice as many voters select renewable energy like wind and solar power (38 percent) than any other choice. Independents favor wind and solar over fossil fuels by a 4-to-1 margin – 48 percent pick renewable energy while just 12 percent select the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline and only 11 percent prioritize more oil and gas drilling on America’s public lands.
Savvy politicians seem to be picking up on this: This week, Republican Govs. Terry Branstad of Iowa and Sam Brownback of Kansas, along with Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), joined with Democratic Govs. John Kitzhaber of Oregon and John Hickenlooper of Colorado to push for the wind production tax credit to be renewed beyond Dec. 31.