Republicans Who Favored Renewable Energy Got Clobbered in the Midterms

You’ve probably had your fill of hot takes from the midterm elections, but this is quite interesting: Republican candidates from across the nation who have favored renewable energy got clobbered in the midterms. This suggests that Republican support for wind and solar did not prevent them from getting ousted by Democratic challengers.

Utility Dive reports thirteen of 45 GOP members of the bipartisan climate caucus in the House lost their seats, as of Thursday morning, while five other retiring Republican members were replaced by Democrats.

This shouldn’t be surprising because climate change and energy policy consistently poll near the bottom of issues voters are concerned about, as you can see from the Pew Research survey below.

From my perspective, moderate Republican candidates seem to think they can use energy and environmental issues as a bargaining chip to placate the electorate into giving them their vote, whether that is supporting stupid forms of energy like wind and solar, or opposing natural resource development like mining, but history shows this is a losing strategy.

We saw this in Minnesota, where Republican House candidate Erik Paulsen ran an ad talking about how he opposed mining mining near the Boundary Waters. Paulsen was hoping to draw a distinction between himself and President Trump, and pick up some votes in the process. It didn’t work, and he was beaten by 11.4 percentage points.

Personally, I was disappointed in the ad because copper and nickel mining can be done in an environmentally responsible manner, and the Minnesota DNR obviously agrees because they granted PolyMet a Permit to Mine. If I’d had my drothers, Paulsen would have explained why mining can, and is, being done responsibly around the country, but I understand his intention with running the ad. The only problem is,  isn’t a winning strategy.

When polled, most people who say they want more action on global warming and oppose mining are liberal voters, but other issues like healthcare and education are higher on their list of priorities. This means they probably won’t vote Republican just because they voted for more wind or solar or drive an electric car.

Why would they vote for someone who agrees with them on the environment but does not agree with them on issues they care about more? Turns out, they don’t.

My ultimate goal is to persuade the general public that wind and solar are expensive, unreliable sources of electricity that the public has been duped into thinking are “free,” and to help people understand that their lives require an enormous amount of raw materials, like copper, nickel, titanium, and cobalt. We can either mine these materials safely in Minnesota, or we can import them from countries with few, if any, protections for workers or the environment.

This strategy will be the most effective one in the long run.

Places like Canada show that renewable energy programs poll very well until they are the reason why politicians are thrown out of office. This is exactly what happened in Ontario, where skyrocketing electricity prices resulted in Doug Ford winning his election by promising to repeal Ontario’s renewable energy mandate. Turns out, voters do not like having the highest electricity rates in North America.