Unlike members of the GOP vying for public office Republican governors see value in supporting the green economy. The GOP presidential candidates and Republican members of Congress are largely united in their resistance to climate change, but an increasing number of Republicans are bucking this trend. Climate denial is a defining feature of the GOP and de rigueur for any Republican seeking the presidential nomination. However, some Republican governors are adopting policies that promote the green economy. Clean energy policies have been implemented in all 50 states and 30 of those states have Republican governors.
A February 2012 report by the National Governors Association (NGA) showed that 28 states enacted more than 60 new “clean” economic development policies between June 2010 and Aug. 2011. Among those states, more than half, or 16, have Republican governors. In five of the states, the policies were started under Democratic governors and were continued by Republicans who replaced them.
State efforts include support for renewable energy and green economic development policies. These policies include tax breaks for renewable energy manufacturers, grants for cleantech startups and training programs for green jobs.
According to NGA, every state except Georgia, Montana, Rhode Island and Wyoming have passed at least one clean development policy. In total there are nearly 250 such state programs across the country.
The NGA findings are very prescient for the debate taking place in the GOP primary process and in Washington. Republican presidential hopefuls are tripping over each other to de-legitimize climate change. In Congress the GOP has been more obstructionist on the environment than any other issue.
Although Republican governors could hardly be considered environmentally responsible, they are being attracted by the gravitational pull of the plethora of data supporting the economic opportunities offered by the green economy.
The electorate holds governors accountable for jobs and economic development, perhaps people should hold Congress and the GOP presidential nominee to the same standards.