Quantcast

Al Gore Teams Up With Tea Party to Fight for Rooftop Solar

Climate

Al Gore has been one of the leading voices in support of the environmental movement for decades, advocating for protection of the planet while in Congress and serving as former President Bill Clinton's vice president. He's written four books on the subject. His role became especially high profile after the release of the 2006 documentary An Inconvenient Truth, which spotlighted the work he had been doing to raise awareness of climate change through a slide show presentation he'd been doing to groups across the country. He won the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize for his work.

Two sides opposed on most issues come together over the positives of distributed solar power.
Photo credit: Shutterstock

That film was mocked and dismissed by climate deniers. For instance, an editorial in the Wall Street Journal, written by Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor of atmospheric science Richard Lindzen, argued that Gore falsely claimed there was scientific consensus around the reality of climate change. We're currently observing the spectacle of Republicans in Congress fighting tooth and nail to sink President Obama's Clean Power Plant proposal, even going so far as to suggest to governors that their states break the law to defy the federal government and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

So when you find Democrat Al Gore on the same side of an environmental issue as a far-right Tea Party leader, it's eye-opening. But left and right are coming together over the issue of distributed solar power and the right of homeowners and businesses to install rooftop photovoltaic solar panels.

That shared interest was highlighted this week when Gore spoke at the Bloomberg New Energy Finance conference in New York this week back-to-back with Debbie Dooley, a national Tea Party activist, chairman of the Atlanta Tea Party and founder of Conservatives for Energy Freedom.

But while Gore has focused on the climate impacts of dirty energy and the need to switch to clean energy sources to prevent global catastrophe, Dooley ignores climate change altogether to focus on individual freedom and the "free market."

"She is an activist for solar energy and decentralizing the grid, working with conservatives across the country who believe expanding renewable energy markets and customer choice are consistent with free-market principles," says her bio. "She believes our nation is in the midst of a clean-energy revolution that unites grassroots activists from the left and right."

An article in Bloomberg News called Gore and Dooley a "political odd couple" and noted that Dooley never mentioned climate change in her presentation, focusing rather on consumer choice.

“Solar equals independence—solar equals freedom,” she said, using a favorite Tea Party word. "Tea Party activists don’t like strong centralized units. There’s nothing more centralized than a utility, than the government telling you what power to buy. This is a battle that we will win. I am literally floored with the response I have been getting from conservatives with the right message.”

Gore had a startlingly similar message.

“People want their own opportunity to shape their own future, and renewable energy is part of that,” he said. “There is a war on solar with these legacy utilities, and coal companies using their historic political power, campaign contributions and lobbying to pass the most ridiculous laws and tax the people who want to put solar panels on their roof.”

Dooley's activism began when she joined forces with the Sierra Club to prevent Georgia Power from billing customers in advance for two nuclear plants projected to have huge cost overruns. She also helped fight off an effort by Georgia utilities to charge owners of rooftop solar an extra fee on their monthly bill, something utilities, backed by conservative groups like Americans for Prosperity, are pushing around the country. Currently, Dooley is one of the leaders of a battle in Florida to protect and expand the ability of homeowners and businesses to generate their own rooftop solar and sell it to their neighbors, bypassing big utility companies. The effort is engaging both conservative and liberal environmentalists.

"They have a lot of policies in Florida that actually effectively block the sun," Dooley told Yale Environment 360. "So you have the Sunshine State that has policies put in place by these powerful utilities to stifle competition, and I just felt like something needed to be done."

"We’re going to work together to accomplish something," she said. "Those on the left believe in climate change and coal’s bad. Those on the right don’t like government-created monopolies— we believe in free-market choice and national security. It doesn’t matter what your reasons are, as long as we work together to accomplish a common goal. That’s all that matters, and we’re much more successful when we’re able to do that."

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

Al Gore at SXSW: We Need to 'Punish Climate-Change Deniers' and 'Put a Price on Carbon'

Tea Party Members and Environmentalists Join Forces in Support of Solar Energy

4 States Where Solar is Under Attack by Koch-Funded Front Groups

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Pexels

By Gavin Van De Walle, MS, RD

Medium-chain triglyceride (MCT) oil and coconut oil are fats that have risen in popularity alongside the ketogenic, or keto, diet.

Read More Show Less
Pexels

By Bijal Trivedi

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a report on Nov. 13 that describes a list of microorganisms that have become resistant to antibiotics and pose a serious threat to public health. Each year these so-called superbugs cause more than 2.8 million infections in the U.S. and kill more than 35,000 people.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Rool Paap / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

By Franziska Spritzler, RD, CDE

Inflammation can be good or bad depending on the situation.

Read More Show Less

By Joe Vukovich

Under the guise of responding to consumer complaints that today's energy- and water-efficient dishwashers take too long, the Department of Energy has proposed creating a new class of dishwashers that wouldn't be subject to any water or energy efficiency standards at all. The move would not only undermine three decades of progress for consumers and the environment, it is based on serious distortions of fact regarding today's dishwashers.

Read More Show Less

By Emily Moran

If you have oak trees in your neighborhood, perhaps you've noticed that some years the ground is carpeted with their acorns, and some years there are hardly any. Biologists call this pattern, in which all the oak trees for miles around make either lots of acorns or almost none, "masting."

Read More Show Less
Sponsored

By Catherine Davidson

Tashi Yudon peeks out from behind a net curtain at the rooftops below and lets out a sigh, her breath frosting on the windowpane in front of her.

Some 700 kilometers away in the capital city Delhi, temperatures have yet to dip below 25 degrees Celsius, but in Spiti there is already an atmosphere of impatient expectation as winter settles over the valley.

Read More Show Less

The Dog Aging Project at the University of Washington is looking to recruit 10,000 dogs to study for the next 10 years to see if they can improve the life expectancy of man's best friend and their quality of life, as CNN reported.

Read More Show Less
Warragamba Dam on Oct. 23 in Sydney, Australia. Sydney's dams have been less than 50 percent full as drought conditions continue across New South Wales. Brook Mitchell / Getty Images

While Sydney faced "catastrophic fire danger" for the first time earlier this week, and nearly 130 wildfires continue to burn in New South Wales and Queensland, Sydney now faces another problem; it's running out of water.

Read More Show Less