Right Hooks

Obama: 'Tea Party Agrees With Me on Solar Energy'

Obama mistakes the Tea Party's efforts as an endorsement for his energy policies.

Dan Gilmore · Aug. 25, 2015
Obama at the Copper Mountain Solar Facility, Nevada, in 2012

In a Monday speech before the National Clean Energy Summit, Barack Obama told the crowd that clean energy “is not and should not be a Republican versus Democrat issue.” He’s right about that, but he instead tried to drive a wedge between the Tea Party and the organizations backed by the Koch brothers. First, Obama gave an example of the Florida Tea Party’s push to deregulate the state’s solar industry, advocating for a freer market, trying to change the laws so that private citizens can sell energy generated by their solar panels to energy companies. To that end, they are joined by progressives such as the Green Party. But Obama mistakes the Tea Party trying to affect local change as an endorsement for his energy policies. With that assumption in mind, he fired upon national lobbying groups suspicious of renewable fuels. “When you start seeing massive lobbying efforts backed by fossil fuel interests or conservative think tanks, or the Koch brothers pushing for new laws to roll back renewable energy standards or prevent new clean energy businesses from succeeding, that’s a problem,” Obama said. “That’s rent-seeking, and trying to protect old ways of doing business and standing in the way of the future. … They’re trying to undermine competition in the marketplace.” But Obama’s new way of doing business involves heavy subsidies that keep industries like ethanol and solar kicking around for another year. It’s a way of business that requires the cost of electricity to “necessarily skyrocket” in order to make green energy viable. It’s an industry that’s only green because it’s under a government spigot — not exactly a Tea Party-endorsed practice, and nothing to do with the competitive free market.

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