The 2016 presidential-election cycle is underway, and Florida is smack in the middle of it. An early primary state with a couple of favorite sons in the mix, the Sunshine State can expect a stream of candidates making their cases for why they deserve the nation’s top office.
With the first official debate scheduled for Thursday, we hope the candidates’ pitches will talk about the importance of promoting homegrown, clean energy. At Young Conservatives for Energy Reform, we encourage all the Republican presidential candidates to embrace policies and practices that are good for the economy, good for our national security, and good for our party at the ballot box. Clean energy checks all these boxes.
Floridians — especially younger voters — recognize that the state will benefit by adopting clean, homegrown energy, such as solar power and biofuels. Why? The clean-energy sector promotes a strong economy, supporting 130,000 jobs across the state.
The Orlando Utilities Commission — looking to install thousands of solar panels just east of the city — is one of a number of utilities in the state investing in large-scale solar as a financially viable energy source. The town of Longwood has adopted programs to promote energy efficiency and sustainable buildings, in order to reduce operating costs and promote a clean environment. We recently held an event there featuring retired Lt. Gen. Richard Zilmer, a member of the CNA Military Advisory Board; CNA is a nonprofit research and analysis group headquartered in Alexandria, Va.
Clean energy also helps bolster national security. At our Longwood event, Zilmer explained that on the battlefield, clean energy helps reduce the number of dangerous fuel conveys. And across the U.S., military bases are prioritizing on-site clean energy and efficiency in order to boost energy security, save money, and ensure reliable power.
We call on GOP presidential hopefuls to embrace clean energy. America should lead global clean-energy innovation efforts, and promote local jobs and a healthy environment. Clean energy should not be a divisive issue. Rather, it is a goal worthy of the support of those who want to be our next president.
At stake is not just control of the White House, but the future of our economy, our environment and our national security.
Michele Combs is founder and chairman of Young Conservatives for Energy Reform (YC4ER). Jennifer Wagner is YC4ER’s Orlando chairman.