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Musings about the environment and all it touches, from education to city planning

Green tea party? A strange but welcome development.

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Could this be a Tea party member?

Could this be a Tea party member?

We are so used to the inanities coming out of Tea Party figures, from Michelle Bachmann to Ted Cruz, that it’s easy to forget that the Tea Party grassroots is made up of well meaning, pissed-off individuals.  Some of these folks are now waking up to the fact that they’ve been had by rich manipulators such as the Koch brothers.

They’re now looking at Big Oil and Big Coal with the same jaundiced eye that they have for Big Government.  The results are surprising: they want to know who’s standing between them and cheap renewable energy, and whoever is in the way better beware.  Now it’s Tea Party for Solar, yessiree.

Last June, Debbie Dooley, the chair of the Atlanta Tea Party, took a swing at utility giant Southern Co. and its subsidiary Georgia Power.  The charge?  The utility is behaving like a monopoly, and preventing folks from getting solar energy.  As Kiley Kroh of Think Progress reports,

 Dooley said the Tea Party believes consumers should be able to exercise choice when it comes to their energy source and the activists she works with don’t want to be dependent on one or two energy sources. And Dooley’s effort is not aimed at reducing carbon emissions — in fact, she doesn’t believe in global warming — but based on their view that solar is a commonsense alternative for Georgia ratepayers that could function without subsidies.

In an interview with Grist, Dooley explained:

Solar prices have plummeted since 2008, dropping almost 75 percent in some areas. Solar is now a great bet against rising utility rates, because once you set up the system, the fuel — sunlight — will always be free. No one owns the sun or has exclusive rights to it. We can give consumers the option to choose solar and protect the environment at the same time.

And it’s not just Georgia.  This is also happening in Louisiana, Idaho, and especially Arizona, where there’s a rebellion against a plan by the utilities to charge extra fees for customers who have roof-mounted solar panels.  And the movement has now spread to republican Wisconsin.

This is happening despite a Koch-funded disinformation campaign that

warned the group’s 50,000 members that the solar proposal would “reduce the reliability of every appliance and electronics gadget in your home” and could increase Georgia electricity rates by up to 40 percent. As the Associated Press pointed out, neither of these claims bore much resemblance to the truth.

But Tea Party or not, even conservative Americans recognize, at last, that something needs to be done about the climate; a recent poll reports that 60 % of them would endorse a carbon tax.

Jim Hansen – hardly a climate denier, he – may have put his finger on a key factor; he said:  

If [conservative leaders] continue to pretend that human-made climate change is a hoax, eventually you get to the point where nature makes it clear it wasn’t a hoax and then the public demands the government do something and that’s the worst nightmare for conservatives. 

It’s like trying to mesh the hippie anthem “Let the sunshine in” with the banjos of  “deliverance”.  Not a natural mix.  But, hey, if it works, and brings solar in…

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