Nebraska turned more than a few heads recently when public officials there adopted net-zero carbon goals across the electricity sector. After all, clean energy has often been framed as a partisan issue, and solidly Republican Nebraska looks nothing like most of the other states that have staked out timelines for clean power, such as New York, California, and Washington State.
But the fact is that renewable energy enjoys support among voters across the political spectrum—even if those voters offer different reasons for their support. Polling has long shown that Americans overwhelmingly favor wind and solar development, and a majority of Republicans support expanding both wind energy and solar farms. Whereas Democratic support is primarily driven by climate concerns, Republican support is driven more by economic benefits, according to a 2020 study.
Although that support is not always reflected in the voting records of elected officials, recent wins for clean energy show the promise of bipartisan action on climate. In North Carolina, a moderate state with a Democratic governor and a Republican-controlled legislature, a major climate and energy bill passed in October 2021 with bipartisan support.
“I think people are surprised when they see a red state that supports clean energy, but it’s really not that surprising,” says Chelsea Johnson, deputy director of Nebraska Conservation Voters (NCV). “There is widespread support for clean energy. It isn’t a partisan issue to voters.”
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