The Democrats think that climate change is a winning issue for them in 2014—and, if they handle it correctly, this could be a winning issue for the Republicans.
Nothing comes out of the Obama White House by mistake—so you know the recent flurry of noise on climate change is not an accident.
Earlier this month, the Obama Administration announced the creation of 7 “climate hubs” with the stated goal: “to help farmers and rural communities respond to the risks of climate change, including drought, invasive pests, fires and floods.”
Then on February 14, President Obama announced a new $1 billion “climate resilience fund” that “would go to research on the projected impacts of climate change, help communities prepare for climate change’s effects and fund ‘breakthrough technologies and resilient infrastructure.’
Secretary of State John Kerry has received a lot of attention for his February 16 fear-mongering comments in Indonesia, during which he called climate change a “weapon of mass destruction”—the “world’s most fearsome.” He said: “Because of climate change, it’s no secret that today Indonesia is…one of the most vulnerable countries on Earth. It’s not an exaggeration to say that the entire way of life that you live and love is at risk.”
On February 17, the New York Times (NYT) reported that billionaire Obama donor Tom Steyer plans to spend as much as $100 million during the 2014 election cycle to “pressure federal and state officials to enact climate change measures through a hard-edge campaign of attack ads against governors and lawmakers.” Steyer has been critical of Democrats who waver on climate issues. The NYT reports that Steyer’s new fundraising push “signals a shift within the environmental movement, as donors—frustrated that neither Democratic nor Republican officials are willing to prioritize climate change measures—shift their money from philanthropy and education into campaign vehicles designed to win elections.”
However, I see all of this Democratic emphasis on climate change as an opportunity for Republicans—if they realize it as a gift.
The January electricity price index was just released and revealed that the cost of electricity has hit a new high—which doesn’t bode well for the rest of the year. CNSNews.com reports: “During the year, the price of a KWH of electricity usually rises in the spring, peaks in summer, declines in fall, and is at its lowest point in winter.”
True to the law of supply and demand, rising electricity prices in the U.S. have not been inevitable. According to CNSNews.com, following WWII, the U.S. was rapidly increasing its electricity generation capacity. In the 1950s and 60s the price remained relatively stable. However, since 2007, the U.S. has decreased its electricity production; while the population has increased by more than 14 million people—almost all with multiple electronic gadgets running simultaneously.
The 2007 benchmark is important because 2006/2007 is when the global-warming scare began to influence public energy policy—this is the time frame when states passed laws requiring more-expensive renewable energy to be part of the total energy portfolio (laws that set up the rationale for the $150 billion of taxpayer dollars being spent on green energy projects). It is when the war on coal began.
The CNSNews.com report states: “The Monthly Energy Review also indicates that a large part of the decline in U.S. electricity generation has come from a decrease in the electricity produced by coal—which has not been replaced by a commensurate increase in the electricity produced by natural gas or the ‘renewable’ sources of wind and solar.”
The decline in electricity production—slightly supplemented by more expensive renewables—has directly caused the price spike. And Obama’s climate change policies are shuttering more and more coal-fueled power plants—even after they’ve spent millions on pollution controls. We can expect continuing higher electricity costs heading into the 2014 election.
Recently, I received a phone call from an irate woman. She told me she’d been searching the Internet for someone who could help her and found me. She explained that she was an unemployed, single mom living in an 800-square-foot apartment. She said she didn’t turn on her heat because she couldn’t afford it. When she got her electric bill, she noticed that it had a line item: $1.63 for green energy—about which she declared: “I don’t give a *!%# about green energy! I am so mad at PNM for making me pay for green energy that I don’t want!”
I explained that it wasn’t the utility company’s fault. They are just following the law by incorporating renewables into the portfolio. It is the lawmakers who deserve her wrath—from the local and state representatives all the way up to the president.
I do not know if this woman is a Democrat or a Republican. But I do know she represents the exact type of voter Obama claims to champion—the exact type of voter his climate-change policies are hurting. These voters “don’t give a *!%# about green energy”—they care about the rising cost of electricity.
The Democrats own “climate change.” The Democrats are hurting their own.
If the Republicans are smart enough to capture the anger of voters—like the woman who called me—and feature it in television ads, the Democrats’ climate-change emphasis will be a winning issue for Republicans. (BTW, Karl Rove, I have the caller’s phone number. Maybe you could feature her in an ad.)