You heard right: Conservatives make a case for renewables


A few weeks ago I wrote about some conservatives who are interested in addressing climate change and promoting renewable energy. Among the latter was an Atlanta tea party organization that is trying to get Georgia Power to add more solar power. Earlier this week, the leader of that group, Debbie Dooley, published an interesting op-ed on their efforts, and laid out the conservative case for more consumer-driven renewable energy. She also explained why her group was working with organizations like the Sierra Club.

This kind of cross-ideological cooperation tends to make both sides nervous. But there is no reason why conservative groups and more liberal environmental organizations shouldn’t work together where we agree. Nobody likes air pollution, and all parents want a better future for their children, so if we can advance those goals more effectively together, we should do it.

I don’t think for a moment that the Atlanta Tea Party and the Sierra Club - or EDF, for that matter - agree on most issues. I’m willing to bet that on the ten most debated questions facing the country right now, Ms. Dooley and I disagree on nine and a half of them. I’m sure she isn’t going to compromise her principles to work with environmentalists — and we won’t change our views to work with organizations like hers. But that doesn’t mean we can’t have a civil discussion, find areas of agreement, and work together where it is possible.

I hope there are more right-left conversations about environmental issues to come. If we’re secure in our views, there’s no harm in talking. And maybe we can get some stuff done.

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Keith Gaby

Keith Gaby

Explores the intersection of politics and climate change.

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Nobody who would call themselves a "conservative" would support "man-made climate change" nonsense. That's what makes them "conservative" - they don't jump aboard every fad based on junk "science" that comes along.

Renewable power has its place - regionally. It isn't going to save people from their own stupidity buying into some quack "climate change" nonsense.

I think it's telling how you assume Ms. Dooley will disagree with you when you have never met, talked, or read anything other than the op-ed you write about. That attitude and belief is troubling. When it comes to environment, politics is less the issue than money and comfort. There are plenty of limousine liberals who talk climate change and run afoul of the environment. There are plenty of tea party members with tiny carbon footprints. It's time again to start looking at people as individuals and not members of some ideological group.

You’re absolutely right about ideology not necessarily being a good predictor of carbon footprints. I do, though, think it’s a pretty good bet that Ms. Dooley and I disagree on most non-environmental issues – my politics are moderately liberal and she founded the Atlanta Tea Party. It’s not a stretch, and certainly not a disparagement, to guess that we have different views on many questions. But my point is that our differences don’t mean we have to disagree on everything. Her op-ed was a good example, since we agree on the need for more renewable energy. I’m afraid a lot of people on both sides of America’s ideological divide get nervous agreeing with their “opponents” on anything, as if having those areas of common ground will cause us to abandon our principles. There’s a widespread fear in Washington, particularly among Republicans in Congress, that working with progressives on any issue will generate a primary challenge from an ideologically “pure” opponent. So I wanted to make the point that Ms. Dooley is no less a real conservative because one of her opinions happens to overlap with a view held by the Sierra Club – just as I am no less an environmentalist if all my views don’t fit people’s stereotype of someone who works for a “green” organization.

Common ground is holy ground.