Is the Tea Party Going Green?

Carolyn Kormann in the New Yorker writes about a surprising new advocate of solar: the Tea Party.

Debbie Dooley, a Georgia Tea Party member and “fierce solar-power advocate” argues that solar gives people “energy autonomy. ‘The average person cannot build a power plant, but they can install solar panels on their rooftop, and they should be able to sell that energy to friends and neighbors if they wish,’” she said.

“Dooley and her environmentalist partners have tacitly agreed to disagree about many things, starting with climate change. ‘That’s something we don’t get involved in,’ she said. ‘If you mention climate change, they’re going to tune you out.’ She meant her Tea Party compatriots, of course, with whom she emphasizes, when she talks about solar energy, the free market, consumer choice, and national security. ‘Rooftop solar makes it harder for terrorists to render a devastating blow to our power grid,’ she said.”

“Utility companies are not wrong to fear rooftop solar … Hence an ALEC campaign … to promote legislation to penalize individual homeowners who use rooftop solar and to label them ‘free riders.'”

In 2012,  ALEC “‘sponsored at least 77 energy bills in 34 states,’ many with the goal of blocking renewable-energy efforts and weakening clean-energy regulations. The model legislation developed by ALEC in this area is called, of all things, the Electricity Freedom Act.”

 

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