Voters in New Hampshire expect candidates to take clear positions on tough policy issues. This is true for Republican and Democratic candidates at the municipal and state level, and holds true for the many Presidential hopefuls who invest months (years!) here on the campaign trail. The issues of clean energy development and environment conservation have played a significant role this #FITN cycle, and Citizens for Responsible Energy Solutions (CRES) has been leading the charge — making sure there is a strong Republican case for protecting our energy, climate and economic security — the New Hampshire way.
Most of the time on the campaign trail in New Hampshire is spent retail politicking in living rooms, diners, country stores, and town halls. It is in these places where I have worked with CRES volunteers and staff to engage in a meaningful dialogue with campaign advisors, political leaders, members of the press, and the presidential candidates themselves, to highlight our state’s leadership on sustaining affordable energy solutions that protect our vital natural resources.
CRES was proud to sponsor the NH GOP forum in April and its #FITN Town Hall in January.
CRES has worked with Republicans around the state reinforcing what we know is true. That conservatives are tired of ceding environmental issues to the Democrats.
“Many Republicans still share Roosevelt’s conviction that conservation is compatible with conservative philosophy and governance. Republican conservationists bring a more practical, free market approach to environmental policies, relying on technology and innovation — rather than heavy-handed regulation — to develop the clean energy sources that will grow our economy and create high-paying jobs. We Republicans are no less committed than Democrats to the goals of clean air and water, less reliance on fossil fuels, and preservation of our nation’s natural beauty.” -Gary Lambert, former NH State Senator and former candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives.
On two occasions we went into the field to measure Republican support for the candidates. While the candidates’ poll numbers changed drastically in the time between February and November, CRES found a groundswell of New Hampshire conservative voters who believe the exploration and development of renewable energy should be a high priority for the federal government:
· An overwhelming majority (71%) of Republican primary voters believe energy policy, specifically the exploration and development of renewable energy sources, should be a high priority
· Half of conservative primary voters (50%) believe “it’s important we continue to take innovative steps to lower carbon pollution over time in the U.S. and support the use of clean energy sources like wind, solar and nuclear.”
· A majority (52%) of Republican primary voters believe we are already feeling the effects of climate or will at some point in our lifetimes.
· A majority (59%) of Republican primary voters, regardless of how they feel about climate change, are also “more likely” to support a candidate for public office who supports a clean energy plan that promotes the diversification and growth of clean energy sources, such as wind, solar and hydropower; a plurality (32%) are strongly “more likely” to vote for a candidate who supports clean energy.
The poll numbers show New Hampshire voters want public officials to pursue renewable energy, and the state’s leading conservatives have worked with CRES to back them up. Granite Stater Mike Castaldo wrote how he had the opportunity to ask all Republicans presidential candidates to explain their energy policy plans, while Franklin Mayor Ken Merrifield shared his enthusiasm for his town’s accomplishments in solar power and urged candidates to be “proactive in outlining their vision for America’s renewable future.”
Citizens for Responsible Energy Solutions ran full-page newspaper ads thanking Kelly Ayotte for her work on clean energy solutions!
CRES’ efforts to contribute to the conservative debate on clean energy have not just been limited to the presidential race either. When Senator Kelly Ayotte’s decade-long environmental record was questioned, CRES advocates were there to set the record straight. Our grasstops leaders in the state have supported Sen. Ayotte’s work to promote a clean energy plan that will protect our climate, and we have applauded her efforts to lead the GOP in finding common-sense solutions to our country’s energy needs. In the Senate, Kelly Ayotte joined with three Republican colleagues to spearhead the formation of the Senate Environmental Working Group, pass of the Better Buildings Act, and fought for the reauthorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund. In the 2016 New Hampshire Senate election we know energy and environmental issues will play a prominent role in a contest that may end up determining who controls the Senate majority. Sen. Ayotte has made it clear through her actions that she will not cede the issues of energy or environmental protection to her opponent.
This past October, I warned NHGOP in a memo that we cannot abdicate our role as environmental conservationists to the Democrats. Well, I think we have made significant progress towards a victory . As the 2016 election has evolved over the past year, we have seen the presidential candidates’ growing confidence in talking about renewable resources and climate change. Senator Marco Rubio told a New Hampshire crowd just a few weeks ago that he wants the U.S. to take the lead on clean energy: “Let’s be number one in wind, let’s be number one in solar, let’s be number one in biofuel, number one in renewables, number one in energy efficiency. Let’s lead in all of these things.”
Meanwhile Governor John Kasich touted his ongoing battle over clean energy standards in Ohio, calling state legislators’ refusal to adapt to renewable energy “unacceptable”.
As the home of the first-in-the-nation primary, New Hampshire has an important responsibility to demand more of the candidates in the hopes of finding someone truly worthy of representing our future. This year, the conservative and independent voices of New Hampshire have once again risen to this challenge and done their part to shape the debate on clean energy and climate change in America.
And, when the primary hoopla blows out of town on Wednesday, a strong, passionate NH CRES team remains…because we live here and we are committed to protecting the Granite State’s abundant natural resources for our own children and future generations.