On Tuesday, President Barack Obama spoke at the Climate Summit in New York City. That evening, a group of conservatives met in Austin to discuss free-market approaches to clean energy. The panel included a mix of former Republican politicians and think-tank conservatives.
The panelists were defiantly not-in-favor of government subsidies for wind and solar, but did see the value of having a diversified approach to energy.
While he was a State Senator, Kip Averitt represented the GOP and District 22. He was born in Permian Basin town of Crane.
“I used to say this on the campaign trail, but 30 years ago if you were concerned about the environment, you were a communist, and you could not get elected to public office. But I think times have changed today. If you’re not concerned about the environment, you’re a goober. And you cannot get elected to public office.”
Another panelist, Bob Inglis is a former U.S. Congressman from South Carolina. He noted the panel was sponsored by the foundation started by George Mitchell, who he called “the father of fracking.” He spoke of being a “climate realist and energy optimist.” And he criticized the political left for their green energy tactics.
“We want more energy. Not less. More mobility, More convenience. You know the environmental left gives you the feeling that all we need to do is walk and eat bugs. That is just not real attractive to the people I used to represent.”
The speakers opened the conference by establishing their conservative bonafides and Averitt and Inglis even playfully argued over which state was most conservative.
“AVERITT: Texas is the reddest of the red states. INGLIS: I’ll fight you for that distinction. AVERITT: Not here you won’t. DOOLEY: Georgia is now.”
That’s Debbie Dooley of Georgia, National Coordinator of the Tea Party Patriots. She talked about “Green Tea” activism. For her, the appeal was national security.
“There is nothing more vulnerable to a terrorist attack than our centralized grid. Well it’s harder to attack rooftop solars. If you have millions of homes with rooftop solars there will not be a disruption.”
All the panelists warned of the dangers of over-regulation and criticized President Obama’s plan of carbon credits. Even though alternative energies currently hold a small share of the energy market, they believed it would grow to become more competitive.