When an organization markets itself as “conservative” while promoting big government solutions under the banner of a misleading poll, it’s time to take a hard look at what makes them tick.
Earlier this month, the Ohio Conservative Energy Forum released a statewide poll aimed at voters who identify as either Republican or conservative that showed the respondents are keen on green energy.
The timing is no accident as the Ohio General Assembly is set to hold hearings on mandates for renewable energy sources such as wind and solar. Under current law, “12.5 percent of electricity sold by Ohio’s electric distribution utilities or electric services companies must be generated from renewable energy sources by 2027” and from this 12.5 percent, “at least 0.5 percent must come from solar sources.”
Republican lawmakers have made several attempts to repeal the mandates now in place that burden consumers and taxpayers. But they have been running up against vetoes from their own Gov. John Kasich, who views renewable mandates as somehow enticing new business even as they drive up energy costs.
If the poll from Public Opinion Strategies, a Colorado-based firm, is to be believed, then “grassroot[s] attitudes are at odds with the speeches and actions of GOP legislative leaders during the past several years,” a report in Cleveland.com observes as it details the key findings.
Support for green initiatives is noticeably higher than it was in the fall of 2016, when the same polling firm performed a similar survey, according to the Cleveland report. But this may just be a question of poll wording. Who doesn’t support heightened efficiency and technological improvement? None of the respondents are asked if they should be coerced into footing the bill for inefficient energy that is intermittent and unreliable.
The result is a poll showing almost 80 percent of Ohio conservative voters telling pollsters they would be inclined to encourage Republican candidates to support “energy efficiency” and the expansion of wind and solar power.
Remarkably, the poll also found that conservatives would be willing to absorb higher monthly bills for green energy.
Here is how Public Opinion Strategies describes its findings:
“While respondents were informed that ‘the cost of renewable energy is coming down dramatically,’ they were asked hypothetically if it did cost more how much they would be willing to pay per month in higher electricity prices. Fully 85 percent say they would be willing to pay something more in order to increase the use of renewable energy — well within the margin of error of a year ago. In fact, a majority — 56 percent — would be willing to pay five dollars or more a month ...”
But notice the sly marketing behind the messaging. Respondents are told that the high costs attached to renewables are temporal and to accept the premise that paying higher energy bills in the short-term will lead to long-term dividends; a dubious proposition.
The Ohio Conservative Energy Forum is part of an umbrella group called the Conservative Energy Network or CEN, which was founded in 2016 to promote “clean energy” at the state level. Ohio is just one small part of the whole piece with “members and allies” now active in 20 states, according to the group’s website. While CEN claims to favor an “all of the above” approach to energy policy, it clearly favors what it terms “clean, renewable energy.”
The problem here is that wind and solar energy sources are not particularly clean or efficient. In fact, updated research shows that both wind and solar energy have been detrimental to the environment. They are also expensive and unreliable. An analysis of figures from the U.S. Energy Administration shows that in recent years, U.S. taxpayers have been spending tens of billions of dollars on subsidies for renewables. Any group that favors government mandates that raise energy costs on consumers, who are already propping up unworkable green schemes with their tax dollars, is not genuinely conservative. There’s a strategy here.
“The release of the Conservative Energy Network-sponsored push poll was clearly timed to get the Ohio State Legislature to reject any effort to repeal or modify the state’s costly renewable energy mandate," says Bonner Cohen, senior fellow at the National Center for Public Policy Research. “For his part, Gov. Kasich, a longtime backer of government interference in energy markets, can be relied upon to continue to do the bidding of the renewable-energy industry.”
Cohen added: “There is nothing 'conservative' about the Ohio Conservative Energy Forum, which appears to be little more than a front group for purveyors of wind and solar power, who will stop at nothing to keep their industry from having to stand on its own two feet. And that includes presenting themselves as conservative when, in fact, they are garden-variety hustlers looking for a handout.”
Follow the money standing behind the network that includes the Ohio group and it is evident Cohen is spot-on when he says these self-described conservatives are operating as a “front group” for environmental activists.
Kevin Mooney (@KevinMooneyDC) is a contributor to the Washington Examiner's Beltway Confidential blog. He is an investigative reporter in Washington, D.C. who writes for several national publications.
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