A long, and sometimes painful, election cycle is now behind
us. As we take a collective breath to
absorb the outcome and ponder how renewable energy will fare under the Trump
administration, we can breathe easy knowing that wind energy is an American
Since we have just lived through weeks of polling – pre-election
polls, exit polls, and discussing and analyzing poll data ad nauseam – why not
look at a few more? A Morning
Consult poll released on November 9 revealed that energy was not among the
top-of-mind issues for most. Rather, voters were most concerned about the
economy, national security, and health-related issues. But wind energy can play an important part in
addressing each of these concerns.
Wind energy has enjoyed broad bi-partisan support for
decades. A Pew survey
from October 2016 found that 83 percent of adults in America “favor more wind
energy,” including strong majorities from all major political parties. Wind energy has driven billions of private
investment into the economy across the nation, and many low-income rural parts
of the country are reaping the biggest rewards as they benefit from an expanded
tax base, millions in land-lease payments and well-paying jobs.
A review of electoral maps shows that, overall, voters from
outside the major metropolitan areas and more rural parts of America helped
propel Mr. Trump to the White House.
And, since virtually all installed utility-scale wind capacity is
located in rural areas, it’s reasonable to surmise that President-Elect Trump
will focus on the people who helped elect him.
Continuing to grow wind power is one of the best ways to help those
In fact, many farmers, ranchers, and other rural landowners
call wind energy their “cash crop,” with $222 million year in land-lease
payments flowing into their pocket-books every year. This kind of income helps drive the economy
further, as people have more money to spend.
by Dr. Sarah Mills from the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy indicates
that landowners with wind turbines on their property invest twice as much money
into their farms in the form of home improvements, outbuildings, and equipment,
among other investments, than landowners who live in townships without
windfarms. They also purchase more
farmland and plan for their farm to continue in the future.
Support for wind power also grows where the most wind is installed
and where wind manufacturing is the strongest. This shows the more Americans
know about wind power, the more they like it.
There are over 500 factories in 43 states that build
wind-related parts and materials. Successful
state and federal tax policies have helped grow this industry into one that now
supports 88,000 well-paying jobs, with wind technician now America’s fastest
growing profession according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Jobs in the wind industry could grow to
600,000 by 2050 according the Department of Energy’s Wind Vision Report. These positions include engineers,
accountants, environmental, health and safety professionals, administrative
staff, and those with mechanical, technical and heavy equipment skills that
many of our military veterans possess.
Everyone can agree on a desire for clean air and water—they
lead to overall good health for Americans. A May 2016 study from the University
of Maryland finds 3 in 4 voters, including a majority of Republicans, say
it's "a high priority to reduce air pollution from energy production that
has negative public health effects."
Wind energy is the cleanest
source of utility-scale electricity production.
It has no hazardous emissions or waste to harm our air or water, uses
virtually no water, and repays its carbon footprint in six months or less. Wind
energy greatly reduces a variety of health-harming air pollutants, such as
smog-causing sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides, that contribute to asthma and
other respiratory issues. Altogether, reducing tons of these toxins yields a
public health value of over $7.3 billion a year. As President-Elect Trump intends to “refocus
the EPA on its core mission of ensuring clean air, and clean, safe drinking
water for all Americans,” wind energy fits the bill.
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Finally, since wind energy is an abundant, home-grown,
natural resource, it can be harvested inexpensively and reduce our dependence
on foreign oil. Energy independence
translates to aiding our national security.
As we consider the future of renewable energy under a new
administration, we should remember that wind energy is already a strong and
proud part of what makes America great.
This article was written for and first appeared in Morning Consult.