Several of the most politically vulnerable Senate Republicans are urging Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to include clean energy provisions in the next coronavirus economic recovery package.
Why it matters: The list of signatures is certainly a sign that vulnerable Republicans see a political upside in calling for clean energy policies. It also shows, once again, that energy politics can be quite regional, even in the era of hyper-partisanship.
Driving the news: Seven members signed a letter calling for "policies that will bolster jobs and innovation" around renewables, nuclear, carbon capture, efficiency, advanced transportation and storage.
- Of the five facing re-election this year, three are in races listed as a "toss-up" by the respected Cook Political Report: Colorado's Cory Gardner, Maine's Susan Collins, and North Carolina's Thom Tillis. Cook lists the contest of another signer, Arizona's Martha McSally, as "lean Democratic."
What we don't know: Whether this might lead to the inclusion of energy-related provisions in the next economic aid package, which GOP leaders have opposed in prior pandemic response bills. There are also pressures in the other direction. Earlier this week, nine GOP senators signaled opposition to extending the availability of tax credits for building new wind projects.
The big picture: For months the renewables sector has been pushing for changes to existing policies, including the ability to quickly monetize tax incentives, but have not succeeded in the Senate.
- The clean energy sector, broadly defined, has shed several hundred thousand jobs during the crisis, according to the BW Research Partnership.
What they're saying: "We can’t presume to know what Leader McConnell will decide to do, but it’s certainly meaningful that seven Republican senators wrote to him and urged him to include clean energy policies," said Solar Energy Industries Association president Abigail Ross Hopper.
- She notes that polling shows that backing renewables is "clearly a winning election issue."