8:18 AM, Oct 2, 2015 • By ELI LEHRER
Some new findings on how conservative voters think about energy issues from a bevvy of top-tier GOP pollsters ought to be required reading for the eventual Republican presidential nominee. While the new polls, commissioned by the ClearPath Foundation, offer some intuitive political messaging advice (e.g., GOP candidates would do well with an energy agenda that emphasizes energy security, rather than a changing climate) some less intuitive results offer advice to GOP candidates about what not to do. Namely, while Republicans probably shouldn’t try to run on clean- energy issues, running against them probably won’t help either.
The data show that clean energy issues are actually pretty popular even amongst the conservative base. An overwhelming 87 percent of self-described conservative Republicans polled said they support policies that allow them to sell rooftop-generated solar power back to utilities. This practice, known as net metering, has mostly faced criticism from the political right, in part because it clearly hurts utility company profits while promoting the interests of alternative energy consumers that receive direct subsidies. (The utilities, it’s worth noting, get some subsidies of their own.)
That isn’t the only surprise. Conservatives actually were slightly more likely than the population as a whole (58 vs. 57 percent) to support allowing people to put solar panels on their own homes without penalty. What's more, about two-thirds of self-described conservatives supported mandating that monopoly utilities invest in solar and wind power (not a particularly free-market idea), while nearly 60 percent also supported vastly increased R&D spending on energy technology. Most also agree that climate change is human-caused.
Among all Republican voters, majorities also voiced support for carbon taxes (worth considering provided they are used to replace big-government regulation and to cut other taxes) as well as for wind and solar power subsidies (which are simply bad ideas). Ultimately, there simply weren't many significant differences on energy issues between self-identified conservatives and the public as a whole. Conservatives are fonder of nuclear power and are more cautious of most subsidies and mandates but even these differences are smaller than one might expect.
None of which is to say that energy and environmental issues will get many Republicans to the polls by themselves or steal voters from the Democrats. Only about 2 to 3 percent of voters, nearly all Democrats, identify the environment the most important issue facing the country. Even among environmental issues, matters like water and air quality rate more important than climate change or energy in poll after poll.
By the same token, it seems clear that all-out-attacks on clean-energy technology aren’t going to win Republican votes, either. There are still plenty of ways for Republicans running for office to talk about energy while drawing clear distinctions between themselves and the Democrats. The Obama administration's record of crony capitalism (Solyndra), big government power grabs (the so-called “clean power plan”), and bloated legislation (Waxman-Markey) offers great targets. But if Republicans take anything away from this polling, it should be this: it’s almost certainly a better idea to attack the means by which the Obama administration has pursued clean energy goals, not the underlying idea of forwarding cleaner energy and reduced carbon-dioxide emissions.
More dubious achievements from the EPA.Sep 14, 2015, Vol. 21, No. 01 • By BLAKE HURST
‘It was $5, right?” I was at a convenience store in northern Missouri, filling up with gas, and the guy next to me was checking his gas budget with the lady in the passenger seat of his car. He was driving what might be the last K-car on the road. He noticed that I had overheard their conversation and turned to me and said: “I hate dollar and diming it, but if five bucks is all you have, that’s all you can spend.”
Sep 7, 2015, Vol. 20, No. 48 • By IRWIN M. STELZER
The economic recovery is barely worthy of the name, and there is evidence that inequality in America is increasing. Ignoring the first rule of statistics—correlation is not causation—progressives see this as a new reason to expand government. Reduce inequality and the growth rate will increase.
And what the next president can do about it.Aug 24, 2015, Vol. 20, No. 47 • By IRWIN M. STELZER
The late great comedian Milton Berle, when introduced to an enthusiastically applauding audience, would hold up his left hand in a modest gesture as if to say thank you but that’s enough, and with his right hand held at waist level encouraged the audience to even wilder applause. President Obama has just accomplished a similar feat. With one hand he has delivered his Clean Power Plan, designed to reduce the use of our own resources of fossil fuels.
A Harvard professor throws shade at a much-hyped announcement.3:26 PM, Jul 30, 2015 • By GRANT WISHARD
The sun is a stubborn on-again-off-again partner in our solar energy relationship. With no way to store excess solar energy, solar homes are forced to return shamefacedly to the electrical grid each evening, not to mention in moments of cloud cover and/or rain.
11:31 AM, Jul 23, 2015 • By IRWIN M. STELZER
Conservatives of America, unite. You have nothing to lose but regulations and subsidies. Hark. Listen up. Pay attention. And if there is any other cliché that might get your attention, pencil it in.
4:14 PM, Jul 22, 2015 • By SHOSHANA WEISSMANN
A new report by the American Action Forum, a center-right policy institute, details adverse economic consequences of the Keystone XL pipeline's delay.
5:29 PM, Apr 20, 2015 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
The original corn laws put tariffs on imported grain in an effort to help domestic producers. That was nearly two centuries ago, in England, and the experiment is taught as an example of bad economic policy. But people never learn and in this country, today, we have the renewable fuel mandates which have been a boon to corn farmers in Iowa (among other states) where presidential candidates are obliged to speak in favor of a policy that is a drag just about everywhere else in the country.
The five hidden ways you’re paying to subsidize renewable power. Apr 27, 2015, Vol. 20, No. 31 • By BRIAN H. POTTS
Do you want to know how to beat the stock market? In 46 of America’s 50 largest cities, installing a fully financed, typical-sized, residential solar power system will do just that, according to a Department of Energy-backed study released earlier this year. In other words, by investing in solar panels, most homeowners will save more in electric costs over the next 25 years (the approximate life of the system) than they would earn from investing the same money in the stock market over that same time period.
The Hawkeye state is first, don’t think about cutting in line. Big corn will crush you.1:05 PM, Mar 22, 2015 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
Iowa took umbrage, last week, over something an operative for Scott Walker said. Or, to be precise, something she once tweeted. For her indiscretion, Liz Mair was forced to resign from Walker’s political action committee. Walker is not yet an officially declared candidate for president but that is just political coyness.
1:05 PM, Mar 20, 2015 • By THOMAS JOSCELYN
In his annual statement marking the Persian new year, President Obama said he believes that Iran and the U.S. “should be able” to resolve the dispute over the mullahs’ nuclear program “peacefully, with diplomacy.”
12:55 PM, Mar 20, 2015 • By MICHAEL WARREN
To hear administration officials tell it, the "fourth quarter" of the Obama presidency will be focused on economic growth and what the president calls “middle-class economics.” Brian Deese, senior advisor to the president on climate and energy, emphasized this at a Friday breakfast with reporters sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor.
Time to counter the Saudis with a tariff? Feb 16, 2015, Vol. 20, No. 22 • By IRWIN M. STELZER
We are in a war with Saudi Arabia—and losing. The Saudis aim to regain substantial control of our oil supply by driving from the industry many of our shale-oil-producing frackers who have reduced the power conveyed to the kingdom’s rulers by the underground ocean of oil on which their palaces sit. And we seem prepared to let them do just that, by failing to do what is necessary to prevent a reversal of the major strides we have made to get out from under the boot of an avaricious oil cartel.