The First Climate Election

November 5, 2020

Climate won.

Houston Chronicle:

WASHINGTON — A new poll shows 60 percent of registered voters support transitioning from fossil fuels like oil, a policy supported by Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden.

The poll by Politico and Morning Consult showed that 55 percent of Republicans, 68 percent of independents and 83 percent of Democrats support such a move, which President Donald Trump has criticized as likely to wreck the U.S. economy.

The issue came to a head in last week’s presidential debate, when Trump asked Biden to explain his views on the the oil sector, then urging voters in oil and gas states like Texas and Pennsylvania to “remember” Biden’s statement that he “would transition from the oil industry.”

At a time of increasingly large and frequent wildfires across the western United States, regular hurricanes on the Gulf Coast and increased flooding along rivers throughout the midwest, scientists’ long time warning of the consequences of climate change appear to be gaining ground among most Americans.

The poll found that 79 percent of Americans now support the expansion of renewable energy like wind turbines and solar panels, with only 5 percent opposed.

Wall Street Journal:

The future of fracking has become a central issue in the contest for the swing state of Pennsylvania. President Trump has portrayed Mr. Biden’s plans to transition from fossil fuels to renewables by 2050 as a mortal threat to the state.

But a swing through western Pennsylvania reveals a more nuanced picture. For one thing, Mr. Biden has said he wouldn’t stop fracking, except on federal land. For another, a transition to renewables holds the potential of new jobs and businesses to replace any lost in fossil fuels.

That is already visible throughout the region, such as at the local office of Mitsubishi Electric 20 minutes south of Zelienople. Two years ago general manager David Gianamore launched a business designing and supplying battery storage units for solar and wind-generated electricity. Though just 20 employees, it is growing gangbusters. He went from one order last year to six this year. “In the renewables area, there is no stopping it,” he said. “When customers book an order they don’t say, ‘Hold off,’ they say, ‘Get out here and do it.’”

Pennsylvania has already been through several energy transitions. The first U.S. commercial oil well was drilled in the state’s northwest in 1859. Coal and nuclear power long supplied most of its electricity. Then about a decade ago hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” unlocked cheap natural gas in the region’s dense shale formations, sparking a boom.

Now the attention is on renewables, sparked by world-wide efforts to curb planet-warming carbon-dioxide emissions and the plummeting cost of wind and solar power.

In 2001 Jim Spencer started a company that built wind farms throughout Pennsylvania and other states, which he estimates created 4,000 construction jobs and 400 permanent jobs. He sold that business in 2018 and today runs another in his native Pittsburgh, Exus Partners, that manages wind and solar farms on behalf of financial investors. One, a wind farm in the former heart of coal country two hours to the west, employs a half-dozen technicians and a site manager.

Below, Biden campaign ad targeting young voters appeared on the Cartoon Network and Comedy Central.

Another ad features a young firefighter musing about adjusting to new extremes.

4 Responses to “The First Climate Election”

  1. jimbills Says:

    The last paragraph of the Houston Chronicle article is somewhat important:

    “But whether that would translate into a climate bill of the sort Biden has advocated for is unclear, with only 34 percent of respondents calling the issue a “top priority” and 30 percent calling it a “lower priority.” Almost 30 percent said it was not important or should not be done at all.”

    Without Congress, Biden won’t be able to do much. I had high hopes the Democrats would get the Senate or at least extend their lead in the House, and neither happened. If Biden wins, the trend will only swing further towards a Republican Congress. Americans tend to vote for a balance of powers – the incumbent generally loses Congress after a few years, and Biden won’t have it to begin with. If the climate won in this election, although I agree Biden is way better than Trump in that area, it’s not much of win.

    Top priorities:

    There was one state resolution that probably passed in Nevada that was a climate win:

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