By Tyler Duvelius
Real Clear Energy
While President Biden and his administration have offered little more than empty rhetoric on their plans to address climate change, conservative governors across the country are earning the title of “Clean Energy Champion” as they quietly work to reduce emissions, increase resilience, and advance their economies.
Recent polling released by the Pew Research Center found that Americans are evenly divided (49%-47%) when asked if President Biden’s climate policies are moving the country in the right direction versus the wrong direction. Perhaps more alarming for Democrats, the poll found that 48% of Democrats believe the Administration could be doing “a lot more” on climate change.
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In his “climate is not quite yet an emergency” speech in Massachusetts last month, President Biden—flanked by Senator Elizabeth Warren and Climate Czar John Kerry—only managed to offer more division as he continued to attack Republicans without proposing actionable solutions. Even the Sunrise Movement, a left-of-center environmental advocacy non-profit organization, had this criticism of President Biden following his speech:
“We are a year and a half into the Biden presidency and all we’ve seen are a handful of executive actions, and the slow death of climate legislation in Congress … He [Biden] can either take action and deliver for millions of people, or he will forever be known as the president who condemned my generation to an unlivable world.”
It is no secret that the changing climate is being discussed at all levels of society. Conservatives are leading policy conversations to determine the best solutions to reduce carbon emissions. Policy solutions that champion American-led energy innovation and provide all technologies with fair access to markets will accelerate the transition to a clean energy future and secure America’s global economic leadership. Luckily, conservative governors and other policymakers at the state and local level are already leading the way and showing the Biden administration what responsible climate action looks like.
Last week, Conservatives for a Clean Energy Future (CCEF) unveiled the latest class of “Clean Energy Champions.” First awarded in 2018, the Clean Energy Champions program recognizes state and local leaders who have shown consistent and exceptional support for competitive, free-market policy initiatives that promote the development and deployment of clean energy. Champions have been leading proponents of our nation’s transition to a clean energy economy.
This year’s class of Champions recognizes 46 conservative policymakers from 16 states. The class features 28 state legislators, four mayors, and a myriad of other state and local officials. The list of Champions is headlined by three governors—Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy, and Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb—who have displayed exceptional leadership in advancing real climate solutions in their conservative-leaning states, often without much fanfare or recognition from the media.
In just the past year, Governor Ron DeSantis allocated more than $400 million to environmental resiliency programs across Florida as the state grapples with more severe weather events. He also vetoed House Bill 741 which would have effectively ended net metering and potentially led to the collapse of rooftop solar in the state. The enactment of this bill would have left Floridians with less energy choice and put them at the mercy of an electric grid frequently affected by severe weather events.
Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy has been a strong and vocal champion of Alaska energy independence. His administration recently introduced a package of legislative bills relating to energy independence, with a particular focus on clean energy, that will significantly lower emissions. If passed, this legislative package will diversify Alaska’s energy portfolio and drive down consumer energy costs by seeking to commit Alaska’s Railbelt to 80% renewable power by 2040. It would also create the Alaska Energy Independence Fund, a bipartisan initiative to develop affordable rooftop solar and weatherization projects for Alaskans.
In Indiana, a state known as the “Crossroads of America”, Governor Eric Holcomb is wholeheartedly embracing the economic benefits of clean energy. In his State of the State Address, Governor Holcomb praised the investment brought to the state by the solar industry. During a busy legislative session of the Republican-dominated General Assembly, Governor Holcomb signed a litany of pro-clean energy bills ranging from electric vehicles to new siting standards for clean energy projects. Other legislation demonstrated Indiana’s commitment to an all-of-the-above energy portfolio that prioritizes clean energy like solar, nuclear, and hydropower.
While President Biden likes to use conservatives in Washington as a scapegoat for his Administration’s inability to produce climate solutions, it is conservative governors who are showing America how carbon emissions can be reduced without compromising their conservative principles. One thing is certain for the 46 leaders recognized this year as Clean Energy Champions by CCEF—climate changes, principles do not.
Tyler Duvelius is the Director of External Affairs for Conservatives for a Clean Energy Future. He resides in Columbus, Ohio.[Editor’s note: This story originally was published by Real Clear Energy.]
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