Can the far right and far left come together on clean energy despite the polarization in Washington DC? That was the question on the table as Climate One visited the nation’s capital to discuss the political environment.
As a founding member of the Tea Party Movement, Debbie Dooley believes in the conservative principles of competitive markets and personal liberty. She also believes that clean energy is the way of the future. Her views may have surprised many of those in the audience.
“I envision Republicans, sooner or later, coming to grips with the fact that fossil fuel is damaging our environment,” Dooley says vehemently. “I see a world where left and right come together, work together for a green energy revolution…we need to look forward to innovation, to technology, to clean energy and job creation.”
As leader of the grassroots organization 350.org, May Boeve uses different language and has a different view of the role of government. She believes that the work of mitigating climate change can’t come fast enough. “Our concern is that fossil fuel interests are standing in the way of progress,” says Boeve. “It’s their impact on the political process that we’re contending with.
“That is why we see people mobilizing in the streets,” she adds, referring to the thousands of citizens marching in protest on the National Mall outside.
Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) joined the Senate in 2007, when climate change was still a bipartisan issue. For his first three years in the senate, he remembers, “there were multiple bipartisan climate change bills to regulate carbon dioxide emissions. [In 2008] John McCain carried his party’s banner into that presidential election on a great climate change platform.”
It was the Citizen’s United decision by the Supreme Court, which gave corporations the ability to spend unlimited amounts of money on campaigns, that led to Big Oil’s stronghold on congress, Whitehouse believes.
Coming from different places, all three think the Koch brothers and electric monopolies are restricting individual choice to protect their profits and the environment. And they all agree that climate change is a real concern that needs to be addressed.