November 17, 2016 Read More →

On the Blogs: Across U.S., Bipartisan, Grass-Roots Support for Renewables

Dave Roberts for Vox:

There are many things that divide Americans, but they are generally united on the benefits of making money.

Even as the (small and shrinking) number of coal jobs gets endless media attention, renewable energy has scaled up to become a serious employer in the US. And it’s happening in places far outside the usual blue urban enclaves — think solar in rural North Carolina or wind in Texas and Oklahoma.

As part of their fascinating American Futures project, the Atlantic’s James and Deborah Fallows have been flying around the country (in their Cirrus SR22), “taking seriously places that don’t usually get registered seriously.” They’ve been telling fascinating and optimistic stories about the way Americans, even as their national politics is awash in rancor and division, are coming together is practical, pragmatic ways to build better futures.

(Needless to say, this kind of sensible local progressivism will be more important than ever in the Trump era.)

Their latest episode is about the quiet renewable energy revolution happening in small places outside the national spotlight.

It’s about wind turbines dotting the farms around Spearville, Kansas, a biodiesel refinery in Erie, Pennsylvania, solar on California’s Central Valley farms, and energy conservation in Fresno. Yes, Fresno.

These projects have nothing much in common except that they’re happening largely outside the media spotlight. And they are giving small-town residents pride in their contribution toward green jobs and greener energy. People who take that on as part of their identity become more open to further action. Someday they might even become open to seeing themselves as part of a larger struggle against climate change

Clean energy is going to seep into rural areas, where the Donald Trump voters live. It’s going to present an opportunity for economic development in places that badly need it. And as it spreads, it will gain cross-partisan legitimacy and economic clout, exerting bottom-up pressure on policymakers.

There’s a kind of grassroots populism to be built around distributed energy, a populism of pride, self-reliance, and rebuilding to offset the xenophobic populism that is currently ascendant.

Full item: Renewable energy is seeping into small-town America

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