Commentary: As Trump threatens historic climate protections, Midwest Republican governors embrace clean energy economy

By Dick Munson, Midwest Energy News.

Any day now, President Trump is expected to issue an executive order attacking key climate and air standards, including the Clean Power Plan — America’s first-ever nationwide standards to reduce carbon pollution from power plants. His EPA Administrator, Scott Pruitt, has also questioned the scientific consensus that such man-made pollution is disrupting our climate. But the new administration does not reflect all Republicans’ attitudes toward the environment and cleaner power — far from it.

Concern about pollution — and its impact on our children’s health — has long linked Republicans and Democrats. Republican President Theodore Roosevelt, for instance, launched the conservation movement early in the last century, and, responding to cough-inducing smog and rivers catching on fire, President Richard Nixon signed the landmark Clean Air and Clean Water Acts and established the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Contrary to what you might see in the headlines, this bipartisan approach has continued in the months since November’s election, with four Republican governors in the politically critical Midwest advancing clean-energy measures. Consider Bruce Rauner, the Republican governor of Illinois, who signed bipartisan legislation to double the state’s energy efficiency portfolio and spur some $15 billion of investment in new solar and wind projects to be built in the Prairie State. That legislation, known as the Future Energy Jobs Act, will help achieve a 56 percent reduction in greenhouse-gas pollution from the power sector, almost twice what is required for the state under the Clean Power Plan.

According to Rauner, “I refused to gamble on thousands of good-paying jobs, and I refused to gamble on the energy diversity options for the people of Illinois. That’s why I fought to make this bill happen.”