When most people I know think of the tea party, they think of phrases like “smaller government” and “less taxes” (and yes, some of my friends on the left refer to these as if they were bad things). “Solar power” isn’t typically the first thing that comes to mind. Likewise, when people think of the “green” movement, they typically think of “clean energy” or “subsidies” or “tax credits”. What began as unlikely allies in an initial effort by these various groups to defeat the proposed T-SPLOST (Transportation Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax) has evolved into an unlikely set of allies who are working together to find areas of mutual agreement on energy policy.
I happened to be at the launch party for this new “Green Tea Coalition” last night that featured Debbie Dooley (known for her involvement with the Tea Party Patriots) and Seth Gunning (known for his involvement with the Sierra Club) among others. This is not to say that the Tea Party Patriots and the Sierra Club have officially combined forces. Neither organization officially is involved or takes an official stance on this new movement. This Green Tea Coalition is simply the beginning of an effort to organize and find areas of mutual agreement by a number of individuals within all parts of the political spectrum.
However, even though the movement has only just begun, it’s already drawn some heavy criticism from those on the left and right filled with stereotypes about brainwashing and that somehow conservatives are being converted into tree hugging liberals. So today I want to set the record straight.
There seems to be a perception by some on the left that those on the right don’t care about the environment. I believe this describes very few people on the right. Yes, there are certainly those out there who at least put on an outward appearance that they don’t care about the environment, but most of us on the right do care. We like clean air. We want to know that our drinking water is clean and not going to make us sick. We want to make sure that the planet we leave behind for our kids or our grandkids is going to allow them to live long and prosper. We may have different ideas of the paths to take to get to these end goals, but the goals are relatively the same.
As well, there is a perception by some on the right that those on the left are whacko tree huggers that want to tax coal and other fossil fuels to the point that they’re unaffordable while heavily subsidizing things like solar and wind. And those perceptions are accurate to varying degrees depending on the individual you talk to. But here’s where having an open and honest conversation can be helpful.
See, here’s the thing… some of these “renewable energy” technologies have evolved to the point that they’re now able to compete with the fossil fuels if there were a level playing field. Those on the right should be pushing for free markets and less government intervention. The government shouldn’t be picking winners and losers right? So what if all subsidies were removed from all forms of energy production – moving more in the direction of that free market? That’s not such a bad thing, right? And do you think that those on the left would be opposed to such a non-partisan solution?
Last night when Debbie Dooley talked about the coalition pushing to remove all subsidies from all forms of energy and letting all types of energy compete on a level playing field, would it surprise you if I told you that even those that come from the left hand side of the political spectrum were clapping and nodding in approval? It appears that we’ve found an area of mutual agreement there that we can all support.
For those of you on the right criticizing even talking to people on the left, I want to address this as well. The right is known for being… perhaps more outwardly religious is the best way I can think of to describe it at the moment. I want you to sit down and think about where the Bible and your pastor tell you that you should spread the word of Jesus. Does it say to only share your faith with the other members of your congregation? Or does it say to go out and tell the world?
If you want to dislike the various policies of the Democratic Party or the Republican Party or whatever other political party… then fine. But realize that these people are also your neighbors. You can be cordial and carry on conversations with them. Who knows… after some lengthy conversations you may even find areas of agreement with them as well. You may both like the same type of beer or pizza toppings.
As for me, I look forward to continuing the conversation of how we can encourage free markets and remove all forms of subsidies from all forms of energy production. One of the things on my radar is the modification of the Territorial Electric Services Act of 1973 (the one my opponent this last election favored no changes to, as he believes that “Georgians aren’t ready for a choice”) that establishes the various service areas for the variety of electric monopolies we have in this state. I also look forward to Americans for Prosperity (which we disagreed with during the recent IRP process) joining us in this effort as they too have been touting their of support of free markets and competition. If any form of technology isn’t economically viable and feasible, then it will surely fail in the free market sans subsidy, right?
As for everyone else, I invite you to join The Green Tea Coalition on Facebook and join in the conversation as to how we can help shape energy policy in our state in the years to come. You can find it at: http://www.facebook.com/thegreenteacoalition
* This article also posted at http://westcobb.patch.com/groups/david-stapless-blog/p/green-tea-anyone