Markos Moulitsas: Wrong again on energy

Markos Moulitsas: Wrong again on energy
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There is little objective reason for Republicans to oppose adoption of clean alternatives to fossil fuels. After all, there’s nothing inherently conservative about polluting the air, or the internal combustion engine, or fracking on public or even privately owned lands. 

Yet Republicans have stood firmly in the way of greater adoption of renewable energy sources, even though it would help stem the danger of global climate change, provide constituents with cleaner air and water, and save Americans money. 

Why? Because of money. 

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Big donors like Charles and David Koch, who have made the bulk of their fortune in the fossil fuel-extraction business, spend hundreds of millions of dollars to fight renewables. In fact, 90 percent of campaign spending by the energy sector goes to Republicans. The American Legislative Exchange Council, which provides corporate legislation to conservative lawmakers, prioritizes elimination of all clean energy initiatives — not to mention suppression of scientific evidence of man-made climate change. So the GOP plays along, fighting efforts to promote green jobs, green technologies and clean energy. 

The opposition of Republican lawmakers to these efforts has reached such absurd lengths that GOP governors have fought to prevent electric-car company Tesla Motors from selling vehicles directly to consumers in states including Texas and New Jersey — apparently, free-market principles are situational. When Tesla introduced its latest car, the Model X SUV, Breitbart sniffed, “Strange how all the leftists rally behind this 1%’er car. Base price of $132k? Totally for the masses right? Where are the Black Lives Matter crowds on Fremont Blvd? Nowhere to be seen.” 

Conservative criticism of electric cars is so intense, it certainly feels like they doth protest too much. Rush Limbaugh periodically rants about how “nobody wants these” electric cars. But if that’s true, don’t sweat it. The free market will take care of things and Americans won’t have to suffer indignities like clean air and energy independence, right?

But while the Model X base price is actually $80,000 (no one expects conservative media to be accurate), the company is set to introduce a car for the masses in March, with production beginning next year. And even Tesla’s luxury cars sport months-long waiting lists. 

Meanwhile, Chevrolet is even closer to releasing its Bolt, a mass-market electric car with a range of 200 miles. Nissan is doubling down on the technology, teaming up with BMW to build a nationwide network of chargers like Tesla has already done. And the European automakers are all aggressively working on electric offerings, as are Silicon Valley giants like Apple, Google and Uber. 

Whether conservatives like it or not, the future is electric.

Low oil prices certainly won’t arrest the shift toward cleaner fuels, with the U.S. energy system “decarbonizing” at increasing rates. Clean energy accounted for two-thirds of all new power capacity since 2015. And while wind and solar still only make up 7.5 percent of total electricity production, such production is expected to expand yet another 9 percent this year, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. 

While cheap oil may temporarily slow adoption of cheaper electric cars, it isn’t stopping people from putting solar panels on their roofs, as more than a million households already have. And once you have panels on your roof? Well then, electric cars become that much more attractive. 

Conservatives being conservatives, they are clinging to dirty fuels. Lucky for everyone else, the world is evolving past them. 

Moulitsas is the founder and publisher of Daily Kos.