LINCOLN - Support for renewable energy in the U.S. cuts across party lines, according to a new Yale University report.
Three in four Republicans surveyed are in favor of increased funding for clean energy research, generating power on public lands and giving tax rebates for installing solar. Support was even higher among Democrats.
John Hansen, president of the Nebraska Farmers Union, says boosting renewable energy would create new jobs, and provide property tax relief by adding to local tax bases.
He adds wind and solar also can help farmers.
"It's also a very significant increase in the amount of income," he explains. "And given commodity prices, anything we can do to bring in additional revenue to help augment our sagging cash flows is a welcome thing to do."
The report found that moderate Republicans are 35 percentage points less likely to vote for a candidate that opposes action on climate change. But just one in five Republicans surveyed says climate change should be a high priority, compared with more than 80% of Democrats.
Hansen points to last year's 500-year flood, on top of three 100-year floods within a decade in some parts of Nebraska, as evidence that climate change already has arrived.
Hansen says last year's flooding cost Nebraska's agriculture sector alone $1 billion. He says he's hopeful that increased support for clean energy will help prevent worst case scenarios projected by scientists.
"We need to accept the science, and if we care about our kids, our grandkids, our great grandkids, we need to do everything we can possibly do today to make sure that their world is clean and livable and sustainable," he stresses.
Hansen says just five years ago, Nebraska was generating 459 megawatts of wind power, and now produces more than 2,100 megawatts. An additional 1,000 megawatts from wind is under construction.
According to the Lincoln Journal Star newspaper, a 230-megawatt solar farm was approved east of Lincoln, and the Omaha Public Power District is working to add up to 600 megawatts of solar power by 2023.