With the administration of President Donald Trump moving to bail out coal plants and slap tariffs on solar imports, the renewable-energy industry is turning to a secret weapon for help: conservatives who actually support clean energy.
The wind and solar industry sponsored a conservative conference on clean energy in Washington, hoping to tailor their message for the Trump administration. Job creation, traditional values and American energy independence replaced worries about climate change and global warming.
“This is an a classic example of being able to take the the abundance that God has blessed my state and our country with and using it more efficiently,” Ohio Republican Senator Rob Portman told the Conservative Clean Energy Summit Thursday. “The Bible tells us that part of our responsibility is and continues to be good stewards of the great, green Earth.”
He was addressing the crowd of roughly 300 who stood and placed their hands on their hearts as the Star Spangled Banner was sung, which was followed by a live rendition of “Proud to be an American.” Among the conference organizers was the Christian Coalition, the grass roots group founded by evangelist Pat Robertson in 1989.
“When I think about energy or when I think about anything, I’m a conservative Republican and I want to make sure that it’s pro-life, that it’s pro family and that it’s pro-America,” said Tyler Duvelius, the Ohio state director of the Christian Coalition.
The conference was sponsored in part by the American Wind Energy Association and Solar Energy Industries Association, two groups that worked closely with the Obama administration to advance climate regulations. Trump has moved to end those rules.
And that’s not all.
The Department of Energy has proposed reworking electricity markets, giving coal and nuclear plants a premium at the expense of solar, wind and gas plants. And the International Trade Commission is slated to hand Trump an opportunity to slap trade tariffs on imported solar panels, which the industry warns could cripple the domestic installation and component manufacturing industry.
“They want tariffs, they want to double the price of solar panels, they want to take away choice for consumers across this country,” said Abigail Ross Hopper, the chief executive officer of the solar industry group.
Tom Kiernan, the head of the wind group, noted in his remarks that the industry is asking Congress not to end its key tax credit early as lawmakers work on a broad rewrite of the nation’s tax code.
“The wind industry is revitalizing farming and ranching communities,” Kiernan said, adding that it is also hiring veterans and helping improve national security. “The whole concept of ‘Made in America,’ that is very much in alignment with the wind industry.”