A group of governors from both ends of the political spectrum are urging President Donald Trump to support renewable energy, saying the wind and solar industries are crucial economic engines for impoverished rural regions.
The Governor’s Wind & Solar Energy Coalition is seeking increased federal funding to modernize local power grids and boost clean energy research, according to a letter submitted to the White House Monday. The group is also calling for legislation to promote offshore wind farms and efforts to streamline the permitting process for wind and solar projects.
The message is the latest indication that Trump’s criticism of renewable energy puts him at odds with much of corporate America and members of his own party. Since he was elected, Republican governors in Ohio, Illinois and Michigan signed legislation backing wind and solar. Last month, more than 600 U.S. companies issued a statement urging Trump not to withdraw from the Paris climate accord, saying it will generate trillions of dollars in investments.
“The nation’s wind and solar energy resources are transforming low-income rural areas in ways not seen since the passage of the Homestead Act over 150 years ago,” Kansas Republican Sam Brownback and Rhode Island Democrat Gina Raimondo wrote in the letter, on behalf of eight Republican governors and 12 Democrat state leaders.
Trump’s America First energy plan posted on the White House website calls for increasing coal, oil and natural gas production — making no mention of renewables. He has derided wind and solar power as uneconomical. The White House didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment Monday.
Despite the president’s lack of enthusiasm for clean power, the industry is a boon in many rural regions that formed that backbone of his electoral support. Rural property owners earn more than $245 million a year from leasing land to wind farm developers, according to the American Wind Energy Association’s fourth-quarter report. Solar companies employed more than 200,000 people last year, and most new installations were in rural regions, according to the letter.