As the next generation of conservative leaders, we have long been looking for a voice to expand the conversations that are had among conservative circles to include issues that are of growing importance to our generation. Recently, the Young Conservatives for Energy Reform, and the Christian Coalition did just that, at the 2nd Annual Conservative Clean Energy Summit.
We heard from leaders like Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO), Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV), and others about how clean energy encompasses more than just climate change, and doesn’t need to be a partisan issue. That message resonates with our generation; a generation who cares about sustainability, stewardship, and yes, even the environment. While we aren’t radicals, we certainly feel the need to be responsible with our resources and care for our surroundings, but the conversation goes beyond that. As we heard from Lt. Gen. Richard Zilmer (USMC –Ret), and Capt. Leo Goff (USN – Ret), renewable energy is also about our national security.
In a world where our energy resources are increasingly globally priced, renewable energy gives us local control over the rising cost of energy. With unrest in the Middle East, this has never been more important, and as Michigan’s legislature wrestles with what our state’s energy future will look like, it is particularly relevant here at home. Getting this policy right could have a tremendous impact on those living in energy poverty right here in Michigan.
Rising energy costs have some of the most dramatic impacts on the poor. Those living in the lowest income brackets often pay over a third of their income to energy costs, making them choose between bread on the table, or keeping the lights on. As we see coal plants closing and being replaced with natural gas, we also see natural gas beginning to be exported from the United States. This will eliminate our ability to control those prices here at home, and subject us to the whims of the international market. It is crucial that we diversify Michigan’s energy portfolio, and make our state more energy independent.
Gus Portela, Executive Director of the College Republican National Committee, shared with us that over half of conservative millennials support promoting clean energy, and that resonates with us. It is time for conservatives to put aside old presumptions, and do the research. Clean energy is getting more affordable every day, and provides significant benefits to our economy. Making clean energy part of an all of the above energy strategy makes sense for Michigan, and makes sense for America.
Charlie Kolean is the chairman of the Michigan College Republicans and Chris Arndt is the chairman of the Michigan Young Republicans.