In this season of increasingly rude presidential campaign rhetoric, it seems that U.S. political parties have never been more divided – both internally and from each other. As conventions near, however, both parties should be aware that Americans, regardless of their political affiliation, show a surprising level of agreement on several key environmental concepts: “green” is good; energy efficiency makes sense; and we need to be relying more on renewable energy.
In our 2015 Eco Pulse study, we tested 2,000 American consumers’ perceptions of 11 common green buzzwords, including the word “green” itself. We learned that “green” is popular on both sides of the aisle. For a full 62% of respondents, the idea of “green” is a positive one, which corresponded exactly to the number of people in our survey who thought that climate change is real and caused by human activity. The survey also found that both Republicans and Democrats found “green” to be a desirable word (67% of Democrats thought it was desirable compared to 62% of Republicans – a statistically insignificant difference). You can see the full results on this topic in our free report, The Buzz on Buzzwords.
Energy efficiency is also a very popular, commonsense concept, regardless of how Americans cast their votes. When we asked 2,029 Americans in our 2015 Energy Pulse study how they prioritized spending money on their homes, 59% of Democrats and 62% of Republicans said that making their home more energy efficient was a priority. Plus, 71% of Democrats and 62% of Republicans said it was important/very important that electric and natural gas utilities offer their customers tips, rebates and products to help improve their homes’ energy efficiency and help reduce energy bills.
Finally, renewable energy gets many American votes, regardless of political party. When asked how important it is that their electric utilities make an effort to generate or purchase at least some of their power through renewable energy sources, 70% of both Democrats and Republicans agree it’s important. Additionally, given a long list of potential features, over a third said they’d want their new home to include solar panels (a top 10 answer), with 36% of Democrats and 29% of Republicans prioritizing this feature.
The U.S. Senate recently tapped into this bipartisan sentiment when it passed a sweeping new energy modernization bill by a surprisingly wide margin (85-12). The bill, sponsored by Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska (a Republican), and Senator Maria Cantwell of Washington (a Democrat), aligns well with American opinion on several of these environmental issues. The bill would spend almost $300 million over the next five years on hydrokinetic (ocean tide and river) renewable energy generation projects and commits $2 billion to technologies to improve the electric grid, including the ability to better integrate renewable energy sources. In addition, the bill includes provisions to support improved building energy efficiency and weatherization programs.
While containing some controversial content regarding natural gas production and export and EPA Clean Air Act exemptions, this bill offers some hope that Washington might be capable of creating some commonsense policy that Americans, both red and blue, can support. Let’s hope this bipartisan approach continues come November.