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Majority of Republican Voters Support Clean Energy

A new poll finds strong support among conservatives for policies supporting renewables and clean energy. (Louis Moncouyoux/Unsplash)
A new poll finds strong support among conservatives for policies supporting renewables and clean energy. (Louis Moncouyoux/Unsplash)
December 19, 2016

HELENA, Mont. -- President-elect Donald Trump's position on renewables and clean energy is worrying environmentalists - but according to a new national poll, his voters are strongly in favor of the industry.

A post-election survey found that nearly 90 percent of all voters support more government action to speed up the shift to clean energy. Mark Pischea, executive director with Conservative Energy Network, said that includes 2-to-1 support from conservatives. He said the Republican Party shouldn't ignore these results.

"For the GOP to be competitive in future elections, it must develop messages that have greater appeal to millennials, college-educated voters, minorities,” Pischea said. "Clean energy represents an opportunity to build a bridge while appealing to our conservative base."

Coal and oil companies have argued that policies supporting renewables will raise the cost of energy and hurt the economy. But the survey found that conservatives favored the policies specifically because renewables are growing and rapidly adding jobs.

Pollster Public Opinion Strategies surveyed 1,000 U.S. voters.

Trump's selection of a climate skeptic to head the EPA suggests the incoming administration may try to undo President Obama's efforts to cut the carbon emissions that cause climate change.

Pischea said conservative groups are working to help transform the nation's energy supply, but they've been more focused on state and local policies. He said they will work in Washington, too.

"Urge Congress and urge the Trump administration to take a proactive platform on clean energy,” he said. "But most of the important work to move the ball is really happening at the state level."

The survey found that support for clean air rules and economic development in energy transformation both tested off the charts, Pischea said. He said the poll found strong support for energy efficiency, and far more negative opinions about coal and nuclear energy.

The idea of government action aimed specifically at slowing climate change is still politically charged for conservatives, Pischea said, but he sees growing consensus on energy policies in general.

"The encouraging part about the increase in support on the right is, we hope that it can lead to a de-politicized policy environment, where the accelerated growth of clean energy can thrive,” he said.

Eric Tegethoff/Cynthia Howard, Public News Service - MT