A growing public advocacy network is trying to convince Republicans to see the economic value in clean energy.
- The Conservative Energy Network (CEN) is a mix of conservative-leaning organizations, launched in 2016, attempting to advance clean-energy solutions through the free market as an alternative to widespread government reform of the energy sector.
- Representatives from CEN continually meet with small towns across southern and midwestern states to appeal on behalf of wind and solar power as a net benefit for their lives and finances.
- The group has thus far successfully helped farmers secure wind and solar farm permits and produce 2.8 gigawatts of power per year, Bloomberg reports.
- It also works with Republican governors and politicians to reduce efforts to push back against clean energy solutions while helping states take advantage of the Inflation Reduction Act.
- CEN’s goal is to shift the discussion of the topic away from buzzwords like green energy and net zero and reframe their activism around consumer choice and energy independence.
Why It’s Important
CEN’s work stands in contrast to the overall direction of the Republican Party and its approach to clean energy. As Bloomberg notes, the group convinced Florida Governor Ron DeSantis to veto a bill that would have penalized homeowners with solar panels and helped pass the Energy Freedom Act in South Carolina. The group’s efforts have grown over the past seven years, bringing in $7.4 million in donations in 2021.
With only 20 months until the 2024 presidential election, the Republican Party has begun lining up its talking points and issues to appeal to American voters as they attempt to retake the White House from President Joe Biden.
A leading push for conservatives has been a widespread backlash against Environmental, Social, and Corporate Governance (ESG)—frameworks corporations use to gauge the environmental impact and social responsibility of their decision-making. As we previously reported, both houses of congress unanimously sent a bill to Biden’s desk to ban ESG investing for retirement accounts.
Backing Up A Bit
The issue of ESG has not just been contained to partisan politics. The CEOs of major corporations like BlackRock and Vanguard have publicly spoken in favor and against ESG investing, either as a necessity to protect long-term interests in a changing global economy or as a waste of money that comes at teh cost of retirement investing accounts. Teslas CEO Elon Musk went as far as to call ESG “the devil” after his electric vehicle company was removed from the S&P 500 ESG Index.
“Quite frankly, our conservative voice has been missing from policy debates for too long, especially at the state and local levels,’’ chief Brittany Tisler tells Bloomberg. “We spend a lot of time trying to convince people that they aren’t going to get cancer from wind turbines. We try to neutralize the political toxicity of clean energy issues.’’