On the campaign trail in Ames, Iowa recently, the former Secretary of State said she wanted renewable energy to account for 33 percent of America’s electric power by 2027, 13 percent more than the president proposed last week.
“I want more wind, more solar, more advanced biofuels, more energy efficiency,” said Clinton. “And, I’ve got to tell you, people who argue against this are just not paying attention.”
Her cry of more, more, more, is a bit disconcerting, considering that Obama’s plan would“wash away” the coal industry, even though the U.S. accounts for only 15 percent of the world’s CO2 output, and even now is a global leader in renewable power, according to analysts.
The 2016 GOP presidential debaters last week barely touched on the environment as an issue. But if they are looking to distinguish themselves from the Democrats’ draconian, government-centered policies, they may want to give free-market environmentalism a try. This could, suggests a new book, be popular with millennials, the young voters who handed first term Senator Obama the American presidency in 2008 on hollow promises of hope and change.
Spurned by Obama’s embrace of big government, at the expense of job creation, these young voters are looking for new solutions.
“The 2016 presidential campaign gives Republicans a chance to speak to these millennials, and the Republican environmental policy message could be a starting point,” writes Terry L. Anderson, a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, and the co-author, with Donald Leal, of Free Market Environmentalism for the Next Generation. “Command and control regulations, the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, and the Endangered Species Act, to name a few, from Nixon-era Republicans, may have played with boomers. But millennials want results, not regulations.”
Obama and Clinton don’t seem to be in tune with these voters on environmental issues, analysts indicate.
A recent survey by Michigan State University reported that “gen Y does have concern for the environment when making purchases, but without an economic benefit in making eco-friendly choices, they likely would not make these purchases.”
Gov. Scott Walker has made some moves on the environment in this campaign, embracing a plan to disassemble the Environmental Protection Agency, and return regulation over ecological issues to the states.
But there is even more running room for other candidates here. The American Action Forum reported that federal environmental regulations accounted for $216 billion in costs for the U.S. economy in 2012, double its previous record-setting total.
Coming out against the carbon tax in this campaign might be a persuasive play for Sen. Ted Cruz, Carly Fiorina, or even Donald Trump, who has been rather circumspect on his policy positions, save for curtailing illegal aliens, thus far.
“A 2014 poll showed that half the voters between the ages of 18 and 29 are unwedded to either party,” writes Anderson. “Environmental policies based on markets, incentives, and entrepreneurship, offer Republicans a chance to win them over.”
Another important book, Millennial Momentum: How a New Generation Is Remaking America, by Morley Winograd and Michael Hais, shows that millennials are very active entrepreneurs, as they have found new job creation at established companies close to nil during the Obama years.
The authors argue that a millennial environmental policy would be, for example, to reduce barriers to leasing water to farmers from federal irrigation projects in California’s Central Valley.
Another millennial-friendly environmental policy would be developing individual, but transferable, fishing quotas, which could preserve the livelihoods of fishermen, as well as the size of fish stocks.
Obama’s environmental policies are unpopular and are creating an opportunity for the conservative candidate who is willing to seize it. According to Rasmussen Research, 56 percent of likely U.S. voters believe Obama’s plan will “increase energy costs.” Just 17 percent think it will decrease costs. No one is buying what the Obama green team is selling. (Later this month, Obama, who has the biggest carbon footprint in the world when he travels on Air Force One, will venture to Las Vegas to tout the eco-regulation plan at Sen. Harry Reid’s National Clean Energy Summit. The Heartland Institute, and other libertarian think tanks, will be there to greet him at the Mandalay Bay resort with realistic analyses of his statist solutions for pollution.)
“To win the younger vote, conservatives in Washington will have to stop protecting status quo subsidies,” writes Anderson, in this summer’s edition of the Hoover Digest, in an article entitled, “Green Allies: What Would Bring Conservationists and Conservatives together? Environmental solutions that really work.”