It's not deliberately politically tilted, but a recently released clean energy ranking by Clean Edge, a research firm focused on the clean-tech sector, shows that the top clean energy states also tend to be blue-leaning and solid blue states, meaning states that tend to vote for the Democratic candidate in the U.S. presidential elections.
Ironically, in a press release, Clean Edge tries to make the case that clean energy has not been a partisan issue:
"Against the backdrop of partisan attacks and general inaction within Congress, the state-level scene shows a diversity that crosses political boundaries and regions," says Clean Edge managing director Ron Pernick.
Clean Edge's own survey, which uses more than 70 indicators to rank states, among them total electricity produced by clean-energy sources, number of hybrid and electric vehicles on the road, and policy regulations and incentives, would appear to undercut Pernick's own words.
Top 10 clean energy states
All of the top 10 clean energy states -- California, Oregon, Massachusetts, Washington, Colorado, New York, Illinois, New Mexico, Vermont, and Minnesota -- went blue in the 2008 presidential election. And eight of those 10 -- Colorado and New Mexico are the exceptions -- almost always go for the Democratic presidential candidate.
Move down the Clean Edge rankings to include the top 25 states, and only two,Texas and Arizona, are die-hard red/Republican states in U.S. presidential elections, while three more, Colorado, New Mexico and Nevada -- might be said to have leaned Republican, at least until recently.
Generally speaking, when it comes to the U.S. presidential election, Democratic states and Democratic leaning states are clean and renewable energy leaders and Republican states are renewable energy laggards.
Meanwhile, most of the states at the bottom of the Clean Edge Clean Energy Index are solidly red states. The only state in the bottom 10 that isn't always a sure red, or Republican, state in presidential elections: West Virginia.
Bottom 10 clean energy states
The other nine -- Oklahoma, Alaska, Louisiana, Wyoming, Nebraska, Alabama, North Dakota, Arkansas and Mississippi -- are die-hard red states in U.S. presidential elections. The last time Mississippi, ranked dead last in Clean Edge's Clean Energy Index, with a "leadership" score of 4.1, compared to California's leading 91.1, was in 1976.
We're not trying to politicize clean energy by pointing out the strong blue tendency of the top 25 states in Clean Edge's Clean Energy Index, we're simply underscoring a basic, though unfortunate, reality: Support for clean energy still can too often be broken down along political lines.
Although it's not Clean Edge's main intent in publishing its 2012 Clean Energy Index, the Index clearly shows that today's political reality continues to be one in which, generally speaking, when it comes to the U.S. presidential election, Democratic states and Democratic leaning states are clean and renewable energy leaders and Republican states are renewable energy laggards.
Yes, there are some exceptions. However, we'd like to see more of these. In fact, we hope that eventually the political landscape on renewable energy in the United States will come to resemble that of Germany where both the conservative and more liberal parties are firmly behind renewables and clean energy.
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