Since 2015, CRES has made a point of consistently polling conservatives on their attitudes towards clean energy. And over the years, we’ve seen increasing support for energy innovation among right-leaning voters and independents, especially among younger voters. The favorable results have become, frankly, routine.
But in polling released today along with our partners at The Western Way (TWW), there was an entirely different context for the results than ever before—a global pandemic and economic downturn that has had a significant impact on hard-working Americans and nearly every industry sector including clean energy. Given these unprecedented factors, our pollsters honestly did not know what to expect.
In the online survey of 1,009 Republicans and Republican-leaning independents taken between June 6-16, here is what we learned: conservative support for clean energy has not wavered during the pandemic, and in fact, it has only solidified.
Two-thirds (67 percent) of Republican and Republican-leaning voters agree that making investments in clean energy are important to our nation’s effort to rebuild the economy after the coronavirus shutdown. Moreover, three-quarters of respondents support federal action to accelerate the development and use of clean energy in the United States. And 70 percent of Republicans agree that accelerating the growth of clean energy in the United States can help the country become a world leader in the competition for green economic development.
In short, conservative voters recognize that clean energy is a great economic driver necessary for recovery, and they also understand the importance of supporting energy made right here in America. This poll underscores that voters agree that clean energy will add jobs in every state and at every skill level, giving Americans from the Gulf Coast to the Mountain West new opportunities for rewarding and well-paying jobs.
The results are critically important because the clean energy sector has boundless potential that has only recently been brought back to Earth. Over the last five years, clean energy has outpaced U.S. employment growth, adding jobs 70 percent faster than the overall economy from 2015–2019 according to a recent report from Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2). A follow-up analysis of Department of Labor data, however, has found that 620,590 workers in clean energy occupations, representing 18.5 percent of the industry’s workforce, filed for unemployment benefits in March, April, and May.
Clean energy industries need our advocacy more than ever—and they need tangible support from Congress as it considers further stimulus measures this summer. That’s the basis of our latest campaign, Clean Energy Forward.
And Congress is listening! In late May, Senators Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), John Thune (R-SD), Susan Collins (R-ME), and Thom Tillis (R-NC) as well as Treasury Secretary Mnuchin successfully extended investment tax credit (ITC) and production tax credit (PTC) deadlines for renewable energy projects—a strong first step toward recovery for a sector facing mounting construction, development, and job losses.
But there’s much more left to do. Existing legislation like the American Energy Innovation Act (AEIA) and America’s Transportation Infrastructure Act (ATIA) are ready to be enacted and could make a big difference in helping various clean energy industries recover.
Fortunately, these latest poll results will be seen by Republicans in Congress recognize that clean energy aligns with conservative values and will help grow the economy, create jobs, and strengthen national security – outcomes that are more important than ever before given the new world we find ourselves in. Please help us by sharing!