It used to be that clean energy was something that environmental lobbyists pretended to care about, at least when it came to raising money.  Greenpeace, NRDC, you name it, they all put clean energy in their tool chest of ways to get their hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars in the bank.

Of course, they never actually built anything to help us get clean energy, just like they don't do any science and instead prefer to criticize those who know what they're talking about. They just embrace whatever isn't shown to be viable and abandon efforts that succeed, as they did with ethanol and natural gas after they got the uptake they insisted was needed.
They have been the horse that pulls the cart of every alternative energy scheme that gets mainstream attention, but now alternative energy itself is so mainstream, thanks to $70 billion in subsidies in the U.S.,  that solar and wind are a political entity in their own right. For that reason  energy companies are in the enviable position of being able to leave wacky anti-science groups behind and appeal to the rational segment of America. 

America has shown a great deal of tolerance for higher prices if their values are appealed to - organic food, electric cars, etc. - if there are reasonable limits. Given this new reality about the longevity of alternative energy, there is a hypothesis that it may be in the best interests of Americans on the political right to embrace alternative energy the same way they have natural gas. The reasons are simple, and practical. The first is to look at a state with a lot of solar power. You are likely to find a Republican running it. The second is that if the discussion is energy, all energy is good energy, it is the great equalizer in giving people across the socio-economic strata a better life, and embracing the alternative kind would both help the poor and neuter the really wacky environmentalists exploiting fear and doubt about science and technology.  As James Agee wrote about the new Tennessee Valley Authority for Fortune in 1933, “The US government is in the power business [but] power, important though it is, is to be the mere spine of the whole living animal."

TVA meant cheap energy and within a generation the region around it had improved wealth, education and culture.

Conservatives want poor people to have cheap energy but no one is against cleaner energy and less pollution, studies have shown that climate change deniers conserve energy as much as true believers, but the mantra for the right won't be clean energy "at any cost" like it will be among urban elites on the left. Embracing all energy sources leaves partisan-funded foundations shrieking about global warming on the fringes, where they can continue doing nothing about it.

As David Roberts at Vox notes, progressives do not want conservatives to figure that out, so smart strategists on their side will try to make sure climate change and alternative energy are inextricably linked - in the minds of conservatives, who will have to be against the latter to combat the suspect policy decisions regarding the former. 

Conservatives already embrace one kind of emissions-free alternative energy: nuclear power. No less a darling of progressives than Dr. James Hansen, global warming's John the Baptist, says that to-date nuclear power has prevented about 1.84 million air pollution-related deaths.

How the American left came to reject cheap energy for the poor has been well documented, but those on the right have not embraced that legacy the way they could. Oil was once an alternative energy - in the 1850s the debate among the big government contingents was how much to tax alcohol so whale oil could stay viable.

Republished with permission from the American Council on Science and Health. Read the original here.