Who is the Most Conservative Republican Today?

On the trail of the phenomenon: Why so many Republican states in the USA rely on wind energy

Even if one hears completely new tones from him in the last few weeks, his republican party continues to rely on conservative values. However, if you look at the proliferation of renewable energy in the United States, it is noticeable that some of the leading states include Republicans. How does that fit together?

Wyoming in the northwest of the USA is considered to be one of the most conservative states. There has not been a vote for a Democratic presidential candidate since 1964. Mining is traditionally one of the leading industries. Nevertheless, the country is high on the list with the greatest growth in wind energy in recent years, as a 2017 study found. In fact, Wyoming is a leader in per capita renewable energy development.

Texas, once the ultimate symbol for oil production, is a similar picture. However, since then Republican Governor Rick Perry promoted the expansion of wind power in 2000, the country has undergone an unprecedented change. Today, Texas is not only the leading state for wind expansion in the USA, while Rick Perry is Secretary of Energy in Donald Trump's cabinet. Even internationally, Texas can compete with various industrial nations with an installed capacity of over 23,000 megawatts. According to the American wind energy association AWEA, Oklahoma and Iowa are also traditionally republican states in second and third place.

Texas has changed from an oil state to a wind state (Image: Pixabay)

Europeans, on the other hand, usually think first of democratic states like New York, which have already spoken out openly against Donald Trump's climate policy. Hardly anyone has the republican states in their sights first.

A new study by Sarah Mills, project manager at the University of Michigan, tries to track down this phenomenon. She comes to the conclusion, which she published on 'The Conversation', that the conservative states promote renewable energies, but not primarily for philanthropy or environmental reasons. Rather, she believes that it is primarily economic reasons that make renewable energy popular with Republicans.

Many communities in these mostly rural states see renewable energies as an economic opportunity. Landowners make money when they lease their land for wind turbines or solar modules, especially since this is a relatively crisis-proof investment. Suddenly drought or pests no longer play a role in securing the income for the family. In addition, the developers of the energy projects often pay property taxes, which are used to finance government services such as public schools, which also makes them welcome neighbors with local politicians.

Traditional way of generating energy in the Midwest (Image: Pixabay)

The national policies of the individual states with regard to climate protection do not seem to play a major role among the Republicans, as various surveys show. Clearly, conservatives like wind and solar power, but they don't like it when the state tells them to use it. However, as soon as tax breaks beckon to build energy projects, the conservatives are there too.

But whatever the reason, it's good for the environment.

Katrin Radtke
[email protected]
USA, climate change, Donald Trump, Republicans, Democrats, states, investigation, wind energy, expansion, AWEA
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