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Eric Woolson

Eric Woolson

With less than 11 months until Iowa’s first-in-the-nation caucuses, it’s not difficult to imagine why we’re already seeing so many presidential candidates. What is hard to imagine is that many of those candidates actually believe what they’re saying.

That’s certainly the story with the “Green New Deal,” a policy resolution billed as a solution to climate change — but would cost an estimated $93 trillion and move America decisively toward socialism. Mainstream Democrats have mostly downplayed or rejected the resolution, but it has been inexplicably popular on the campaign trail.

This is, however, good news for Republicans because it presents an opportunity for the party I’ve belonged to for 43 years to present its own clean energy narrative. In short, the GOP needs its own plan — a Green “Real” Deal — because recent polling shows 7 out of 10 voters want the party to offer an alternative to the Green New Deal.

I recently traveled to Washington, D.C., to take this message to Republicans in Congress who represent Iowa. My team was part of an effort that included dozens of other conservatives from around the country who support clean energy development. Together, we held 62 meetings with members of Congress or their staffs.

Clean energy is an Iowa issue, and I was able to meet Sen. Joni Ernst and others in my group met with Sen. Charles Grassley. Both have supported the development of clean energy solutions in a big way.

Most people think the environment and conservation are liberal issues, but conservation has always been a conservative one. After all, its root is “conserve.” And most conservative voters support clean energy development because they care about its environmental benefits along with its jobs creation, economic growth and national security aspects.

Iowa conservatives have long recognized the value of clean energy because we’ve personally witnessed the results. Although Iowa never had huge reserves of traditional energy sources in the form of fossil fuels, we are now uniquely positioned to take a leadership role in clean energy innovation and production.

Iowa ranks first nationally in ethanol and biodiesel production and third in wind generation output. Wind power provided 37 percent of Iowa’s 2017 electricity generation, a larger share than in any other state. There are already almost 20,000 clean energy jobs in Iowa, and there’s no reason that number couldn’t be even bigger.

Conservatives want to pursue clean energy innovation by leveraging conservative principles. We believe in free markets, consumer choice and less government interference. American energy independence relies on the development of all energy sources, and a more competitive market buttressed by the private sector and public-private partnerships will benefit everyone.

We also know clean energy means America is less vulnerable to shocks in global energy prices and a better bargaining position with other energy producers. If we have energy independence secured by domestic sources, our international relationships will be freed from that consideration.

What our country needs is a bold, conservative, market-based response to the Green New Deal. Fortunately, Iowa’s Republican senators agree.

As Courier readers know well, Senator Grassley still lives on his New Hartford farm and values the conscientious stewardship of our natural resources. Considered the “father of wind industry” for his crucial role in needed tax policies, Grassley continues to support investment in alternative power sources because they maintain America’s dominance as a world energy leader while ensuring our land, water and air are clean for future generations.

When our group met with Senator Ernst, she made it clear an all-of-the-above, free market strategy is a sound approach to energy policy. Immediately after taking office, she was a key supporter of the Energy Efficiency Improvement Act of 2015 aimed at improving energy efficiency within the nation’s largest consumer: the federal government.

It’s time to double-down on investment into clean energy. While Democrats shift to the extreme left and focus on overreaching, top-down solutions from the federal government, conservatives in this country have a great opportunity to promote the clean energy plan everyday working Americans are hungry for: commonsense, market-based solutions at the local and state levels.

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Eric Woolson, a former Waterloo Courier reporter and editor, has served on six presidential campaigns since 1987. He is the founder of The Concept Works, a West Des Moines public and government relations firm

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