University of Michigan Gateway Ford School

Exploring Current Republican Senators’ Portrayal of Climate Change and Mitigation Policies

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June 2018

Madeline Carter

Abstract

To evaluate current Republican views on climate, this study performs an inventory of all 51 US Republican senators’ official websites. It analyzes how each member speaks of "climate change" and "energy," which types of climate change mitigation policies they support, and whether their answers correlate with the percentage of renewable energy production (REP) in their state. It finds that only two of 51 Republican senators address "climate change." Secondly, a majority (37/51) of Republican senators support REP. Most of those 37 frame their support for renewables in terms of potential economic benefits, like job creation, rather than environmental protection. Of the 14 senators voicing policy preferences for mitigation, 12 support an "all-of-the-above" approach, which promotes lowering carbon emissions, creating new energy technology and jobs, and fostering energy independence. Finally, while there are few patterns based on percentage of REP per state, the only two senators who speak of "climate change" come from the states with the lowest levels of RE production, which challenges existing literature. These findings suggest that mitigation policy proposals focused on technological innovation to support energy development, alongside opportunities for economic growth and/or job creation, will likely result in greater support from Republicans than policies addressing "climate change" itself.

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