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Ahead of GOP Debate, NextGen Climate Invokes Ronald Reagan to Urge 50% Renewables by 2030

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Ahead of GOP Debate, NextGen Climate Invokes Ronald Reagan to Urge 50% Renewables by 2030

Tonight marks the second Republican presidential primary debate. It will be hosted by CNN and held at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California. The climate advocacy group, NextGen Climate, is using this opportunity to call on CNN's Jake Tapper, who will moderate the debate, to ask candidates about their plan for renewable energy. NextGen is invoking the words of Ronald Reagan, who has achieved sainthood among many conservative politicians, in their latest ad campaign.

The ad, “Common Sense,” will run as part of a six-figure buy targeting Republican voters on CNN.com, Fox.com and other video channels. It features President Ronald Reagan's call to protect our environment and secure our children’s future during his 1986 State of the Union address. “Preservation of our environment is not a liberal or conservative challenge—it’s common sense,” Reagan told Congress in 1986. “Let us be sure that those who come after us will say of us in our time we did everything that could be done.”

NextGen is urging CNN moderator Jake Tapper to "ask Republican presidential candidates how they plan to secure our country’s future by laying out a plan to achieve more than 50 percent clean energy by 2030, putting us on a pathway to a completely clean energy economy. Republican candidates would be wise to lay out a plan, as polling shows that a majority of Republican voters in key presidential swing states support this goal, and 74 percent of voters under 35 are more likely to vote for a presidential candidate who lays out a plan to achieve #50by30."

At the first GOP primary debate last month in Cleveland, Ohio, climate change and other pressing environmental issues barely got a mention. Lindsey Graham was the only candidate who made mention of climate change, even acknowledging that the science is settled (something many of the other candidates refuse to do). But the issue only came up because Fox News moderator Bill Hemmer brought climate change up in a negative way saying to Lindsey Graham, “You worked with Democrats and President Obama when it came to climate change—something you know is extremely unpopular with conservative Republicans. How can they trust you based on that record?”

NextGen is calling on Republicans to stop treating this as a partisan issue. "Both Republicans and Democrats have a responsibility to America’s children. Even Reagan, a conservative president and Republican Party hero, recognized that protecting our environment for the next generation should be an easy choice for our country."

It should be noted, though, that Reagan's words did not always reflect his actions. He removed the solar panels that Jimmy Carter installed on the White House roof (new panels were installed by President Obama in 2010). Reagan also "gutted the research and development budgets for renewable energy at the then-fledgling U.S. Department of Energy and eliminated tax breaks for the deployment of wind turbines and solar technologies," according to Scientific American.

Still, many conservatives have pushed for a ramp up in renewable energy in recent years including the Michigan Conservative Energy ForumConservatives for Energy Freedom and other conservative groups.

Watch NextGen Climate's ad here:

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A plume of smoke from wildfires burning in the Angeles National Forest is seen from downtown Los Angeles on Aug. 29, 2009 in Los Angeles, California. Kevork Djansezian / Getty Images

California is bracing for rare January wildfires this week amid damaging Santa Ana winds coupled with unusually hot and dry winter weather.

High winds, gusting up to 80- to 90 miles per hour in some parts of the state, are expected to last through Wednesday evening. Nearly the entire state has been in a drought for months, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, which, alongside summerlike temperatures, has left vegetation dry and flammable.

Utilities Southern California Edison and PG&E, which serves the central and northern portions of the state, warned it may preemptively shut off power to hundreds of thousands of customers to reduce the risk of electrical fires sparked by trees and branches falling on live power lines. The rare January fire conditions come on the heels of the worst wildfire season ever recorded in California, as climate change exacerbates the factors causing fires to be more frequent and severe.

California is also experiencing the most severe surge of COVID-19 cases since the beginning of the pandemic, with hospitals and ICUs over capacity and a stay-at-home order in place. Wildfire smoke can increase the risk of adverse health effects due to COVID, and evacuations forcing people to crowd into shelters could further spread the virus.

As reported by AccuWeather:

In the atmosphere, air flows from high to low pressure. The setup into Wednesday is like having two giant atmospheric fans working as a team with one pulling and the other pushing the air in the same direction.
Normally, mountains to the north and east of Los Angeles would protect the downtown which sits in a basin. However, with the assistance of the offshore storm, there will be areas of gusty winds even in the L.A. Basin. The winds may get strong enough in parts of the basin to break tree limbs and lead to sporadic power outages and sparks that could ignite fires.
"Typically, Santa Ana winds stay out of downtown Los Angeles and the L.A. Basin, but this time, conditions may set up just right to bring 30- to 40-mph wind gusts even in those typically calm condition areas," said AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Mike Doll.

For a deeper dive:

AP, LA Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Washington Post, Weather Channel, AccuWeather, New York Times, Slideshow: New York Times; Climate Signals Background: Wildfires, 2020 Western wildfire season

For more climate change and clean energy news, you can follow Climate Nexus on Twitter and Facebook, sign up for daily Hot News, and visit their news site, Nexus Media News.

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