Welcome to the the Green Tea Coalition

Traditionally, doubting climate science has been an article of faith for the US Tea Party.  Imagine my surprise at seeing this New Yorker  report that sections of the Tea Party are now actively supporting rooftop solar and teaming up with the Sierra Club to form the “Green Tea Coalition.  Coalition action includes:

helping defeat an effort by Georgia Power to impose heavy fees on customers with rooftop solar systems.”

So what is going on and are there implications for climate action in Australia?

The Tea party leader behind these moves is Debbie Dooley.  Debbie is definitely not someone from the Tea party fringe. She is

one of the twenty-two organizers of the first nationwide Tea Party protest, in 2009…. a co-founder of the Atlanta Tea Party, on the board of directors of the national Tea Party Patriots, and, since 2012, has been a fierce solar-power advocate.

In addition, much of what she says in support of solar is pure Tea Party:

“I thought that the regulated (utility) monopoly in Georgia had far too much power…” Solar, …. promised to give people energy autonomy. “The average person cannot build a power plant, but they can install solar panels on their rooftop, and they should be able to sell that energy to friends and neighbors if they wish.”

She also talks about:

solar energy, the free market, consumer choice, and national security. “Rooftop solar makes it harder for terrorists to render a devastating blow to our power grid,” she said. “There’s nothing more centralized in our nation. If terrorists were able to take down nine key substations, it would cause a blackout coast to coast.”….

and actions such as leading

a major ballot initiative that would amend that state’s (Florida) constitution to allow individuals and businesses with solar panels to sell the power that they generate directly to their tenants or neighbors. (Current law permits only utility companies to sell electricity.)

The key things here are a growing aversion to big business trying to limit the freedom of individuals in addition in addition to the traditional Tea Party aversion to big government.  There is no suggestion that the Tea party side of the coalition has suddenly decided to become climate change believers.

So what are the lessons for Australia given that the Tea party is an artifact of US culture?   For me there a few key reminders:

  1. You don’t have to believe in climate science to do things that help slow climate change.
  2. In some cases ideological things like individualism. aversion to big business/government will help with things like rooftop solar, household recycling, urban farming etc.
  3. In other cases the fracking companies are helping build the case against fossil gas while helping to build the regional Greens vote.
  4. Then there is finance.  The thing that is most likely to kill thermal coal projects and fossil power stations these days is the banks perception that these have become very risky investments.
  5. Then there is the economy.   What the world economy needs right now is a big drive against Greenhouse emissions – You don’t need to believe in climate science – Just sensible economics.

No, I haven’t gone over to the Tea party but it is worth reading the rest of the New Yorker article on the fights that Dooley has fought and won against the likes of the Koch Bros and more.

If you want to find out even more, admire the picture, imagine Abbott stewing in the Tea Cup and go to:  Green Tea Coalition

Green Tea Coalition

Bi-partisan Coalition of Environmentalists and tea party activists seeking common ground on common sense energy solutions for a stronger American economy.

9 thoughts on “Welcome to the the Green Tea Coalition”

  1. Brian: Didn’t watch it but I can imagine some common ground on renewables because as price comes down the need for climate science justified subsidies reduces to the point where renewables make sense no matter what you think of climate science.
    In a sense, climate science ends up being just a useful attack point for those who make money from fossil carbon etc.

  2. John, they had different reasons. Anna Rose wanted to reduce CO2 emissions. Minchin saw advantage in renewables because coal was dirty and polluting. I was surprised Minchin didn’t carry a brief for fossil fuels, but then his state, SA, doesn’t have coal mines I know of.

  3. Australia needs to join the Green Energy Revolution taking place in the U.S. This revolution unites activists from both sides of the political spectrum to advance solar and decentralized energy using free market solutions. It is all about energy freedom and energy choice !!

    Let me know if I can help you guys…

  4. Thanks for the article, John D.

    Politics – and sheer necessity – do make strange bed-fellows. Hitler’s Nazis way well have supported green alternatives had they conquered the world (pity about all their other very nasty stuff though)

    Now that the cyclone has gone, the glaring stupidity of imposing “safety(??)” regulations that enrich the electric power companies and prevent rooftop solar power reaching full potential has been exposed for what it is – a colossal rip-off of ordinary householders. There are houses in this part of ther world that have tens of thousands of dollars in solar intallations – and the food in their freezers is going rotten. Yet a simple big brightly-coloured knife-switch could have been installed so that the solar input could be to mains supply only, or to battery-bank only, and impossible to be in both.

    Our legislators and regulators need good swift boots in the backsides until their noses bleed.

  5. GB: I don’t know the details but I do know it costs more to have a rooftop solar system that keeps working during a blackout. For starters, batteries are essential to avoid frequent overloads and damage caused by low voltage. My understanding is that you also need a more complex type of inverter to run offline.
    Where is Bilb when you need him?

  6. Thanks Debbie @4: Traditionally Australians have been reasonably cooperative on environment related matters. For example, it was the conservative side of politics that introduced our RET scheme as well as regulations enforcing the use of high efficiency light bulbs (that reduced power consumption per lumen by about 80% and paid for the higher cost of the bulbs in a few months.) The RET scheme is an offset credit trading scheme similar to the US acid rain scheme except that it controls average % renewable energy.
    Unfortunately, both sides of politics here have been using climate science and climate action as a weapon to attack the other side.
    Your Green Tea coalition is a reminder that useful co-operation can take place without having to agree about things like climate science.
    Over 20% of houses in Australia have rooftop solar despite attempts by conservative governments to slow the take-up. I am sure many people who have installed rooftop solar do vote conservative and may not agree with climate science.

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