Election 2020

Republican Philanthropist: GOP Should Embrace ‘Conservative Clean Energy’

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Conservative philanthropist Jay Faison is urging Republican politicians to embrace “conservative clean energy” in the 2016 election cycle regardless of their views on climate change.

Faison is the founder and CEO of ClearPath, a nonprofit organization that advocates for conservative politicians to adopt a clean energy agenda.

During an interview with PJM, Faison cleared up how much he plans to spend in the upcoming election after media reports from last summer indicated he would spend $175 million. According to Faison, most of that money was invested in his 501 c(3), ClearPath. To date, he has raised roughly $2 million for the Political Action Committee, ClearPath Action, which he said would focus on running “positive ads” related to clean energy in key congressional races.

“If I had known what I know now I would not have transferred so much money into the c(3), I would have reserved more for the political operation — the c(4) and the 527, but whatever — water under the bridge — that’s why I am raising money for the political operation,” he said at the National Press Club.

PJM asked Faison if his efforts are connected to a push for the federal government to tackle climate change in some way.

“We don’t have to agree on climate change to agree on conservative clean energy. Conservative clean energy does a lot of things — reduce carbon pollution is just one of those things,” Faison told PJM.

Many Republicans have expressed doubts that congressional action on climate change would significantly reverse climate change. At a recent Republican presidential debate, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said the climate has always been changing.

“As far as a law that we can pass in Washington to change the weather, there’s no such thing,” Rubio said. “On the contrary, there is laws they [Democrats] want us to pass, there are laws they want to us pass that would be devastating for our economy.”

GOP presidential candidate Gov. John Kasich (Ohio) offered a different perspective on the issue.

“I do believe we contribute to climate change, but I don’t think it has to be a, you know, either you’re for some environmental stringent rules or, you know, you’re not going to have any jobs. The fact is, you can have both,” he said.

Regardless of the climate change debate, Faison sees clean energy as a key issue Republicans should not ignore in the election. PJM asked Faison if he agrees with Republicans who argue that climate change cannot be addressed unless every nation drastically reduces carbon emissions.

“I think America can and should lead on clean energy. I think we can build the technologies and export those technologies so, no, I am an American exceptionalist. I think America is an exceptional country and we’ve been the world leader and should continue being the world leader at whatever we prioritize,” he said.

Looking at the GOP presidential field, Faison said Kasich is most aligned with his personal views on clean energy.

“I think if we saw a general election with John Kasich we might see a full blown-out proposal that’s similar to what we are doing,” he said.

Referring to Kasich lagging behind the other candidates in the delegate count, Faison added, “Unfortunately, the numbers don’t look like we’re going to get a chance to do that or see that.”