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Lifting Iowa conservatives’ voice on energy policy

Debora Blume

Growing up in Fonda, I was always aware of the extraordinary natural resources around us.

Ethanol and biodiesel were just coming into their own and our ability to harness wind energy on a big scale was just on the horizon. Today, both of those clean, renewable energy sources are at the forefront of Iowa’s economy, but it seems the discussion of energy policy has been decidedly one-sided.

It’s no secret that energy and conservation issues seem to be the sole domain of liberals and the Democratic Party, but the wind industry wouldn’t exist as it does without the efforts of Sen. Charles Grassley, a conservative Republican.

In an effort to balance today’s lopsided public debate about energy policy, I’m proud to be part of a group of conservative Iowans who have come together to offer another perspective. I’ve joined the Iowa Conservative Energy Forum to take back an agenda that has enjoyed a tradition of strong leadership from Republicans dating back to Teddy Roosevelt.

While it’s important that, as Iowans, we work together to depoliticize issues and work together when and where we can, it’s equally important to emphasize that environmental and conversation issues are fundamentally conservative issues. After all, the root of conservation is “conserve.”

A majority of conservative voters support clean energy development, not only because we care about the environment, but because it creates jobs, grows the economy and strengthens national security through energy independence.

Like me, Iowans are concerned about the Democrats’ Green New Deal, which proposes to spend an estimated $93 trillion while ending air travel in favor of high-speed rail; eliminating all traditional forms of energy such as oil, coal and nuclear within 10 years; imposing a carbon tax; and upgrading or replacing every building in America for “state of the art energy efficiency.” By the way, that $93 trillion is 4.5 times bigger than the entire U.S. gross domestic product in 2018.

A recent poll showed that seven out of 10 voters want the party to offer an alternative to the Green New Deal. Such an approach already exists; conservatives (and moderates) simply need to make our voices be heard.

My brother works in the ethanol industry. Iowa is the largest producer of ethanol in the United States with 25.6 percent of the nation’s fuel ethanol manufacturing capacity in 2017. While it’s undeniable the wind turbine sitings have created friction between some neighbors, wind power provided 37 percent of Iowa’s total electricity generation in 2017, a larger share than in any other state. There are already almost 20,000 clean energy jobs in Iowa, and there’s no reason that number couldn’t be even bigger.

Closer to home, our 28-year-old son drives an electric car.

There are tremendous benefits for Iowa in a true “all of the above” energy policy that emphasizes clean, renewable energy and energy efficiency will create local jobs, save ratepayers money, and attract significant investments in our states.

Those benefits also include consumer choice and fair competition, a cleaner environment and better public health.

As conservatives, we want to pursue clean energy innovation by leveraging conservative principles. American energy independence relies on the development of all energy sources, and a more competitive market buttressed by the private sector and public-private partnerships will benefit everyone.

We believe in conservation. We believe that the cheapest power plant is the one we don’t have to build and that clean, renewable energy will produce efficiencies that render the old-style power plant moot in the 21st Century.

And, we believe it’s time for Iowa Republicans to stand up for a clean energy strategy based on our core principles, common sense and leveraging the promise of market-driven technologies to counter Democratic proposals for over-reaching, top-down dictates from the federal government.

Debora Blume, who lives in West Des Moines, was raised in Fonda. The Iowa Conservative Energy Forum (ICEF) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that advocates for common-sense, market-based energy solutions that increase access to clean, affordable and reliable energy statewide. To learn more, visit www.iowacef.org.