More Republicans Support Expanding Renewable Energy Than Fossil Fuels

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When Earther last checked in on Americans’ views on climate change, we found conservative climate denial is a uniquely American trait. A new Pew Research survey affirms the partisan divide is as strong as ever when it comes to accepting basic climate science. But there’s also something that should give you hope: majorities of Democrats and Republicans want to see more renewable energy.

Oh, and about two thirds of Americans say the government isn’t doing enough to address climate change.

“Robust support for expanding solar and wind power represents a rare point of bipartisan consensus in how the U.S. views energy policies,” the survey authors wrote.


Indeed, 93 percent and 91 percent of Democrats want more solar farms and wind turbines respectively, while 84 percent and 79 percent of Republicans want to see those technologies expanded. Consensus!

The Pew survey shows that most Republicans feel like the marketplace will create the renewables boom on its own, without government regulations. On one level, they’re right and it’s already happening. On another level, sound policies could help spur wider renewables penetration, and the Trump administration is actively working against those types of policies.

A larger energy divide is visible when we get to fossil fuel sources. A majority of Republicans favor more fracking, offshore drilling, and coal mining while the opposite is true for Democrats. Overall, while support for expanding fossil fuels is lower than support for expanding clean energy, pro-fossil fuel policies remain popular with the Republican base.


Why? Tribalism is a part of it. The other part is the shitload of money pouring into the Republican party from oil and gas interests.

The Koch brothers—major Republican donors whose sprawling empire of fossil fuel-related industries has made them billionaires—have cheered on the fossil fuel-friendly moves that Republican Congress and the Trump administration have undertaken, from an attempt to kill rooftop solar in the recent tax bill to a solar tariff that could slow solar adoption to going ham with offshore drilling to pulling out of the Paris climate agreement. They’re the tip of the fossil fuel financial iceberg that’s largely putting money and support into keeping Republicans in office.


It’s this toxic stew of fossil fuel dollars and partisanship that’s separating us from more robust climate solutions. Which sucks, because it turns out we have all the consensus we need to start addressing climate change, on a basic level.