Back-to-back speeches by Climate Reality Project founder Al Gore and National Tea Party Patriots Board member Debbie Dooley, both calling out utility restrictions on solar energy development, reflect “a maturing in the environmental debate, with a search on for leaders who can deliver the message to different communities,” said the University of Michigan’s Andy Hoffman.
“The issue of climate change has to be framed in a way that it’s salient to people, and it has to come from people they trust,” said Hoffman, director of UM’s Institute for Global Sustainable Enterprise, speaking at the same conference where Gore and Dooley appeared. “The Green Tea Party is framing it around freedom. The whole challenge is how we make it something that resonates with people.”
“People want their own opportunity to shape their own future, and renewable energy is part of that,” said Gore. “There is a war on solar with these legacy utilities, and coal companies using their historic political power, campaign contributions, and lobbying to pass the most ridiculous laws and tax the people who want to put solar panels on their roof.”
“Solar equals independence—solar equals freedom,” said Dooley. “Tea Party activists don’t like strong centralized units. There’s nothing more centralized than a utility, than the government telling you what power to buy.”