(DISCLAIMER: I am asking this in the most non-partisan way possible. Please no arguments or mudslinging!)

What are the Republican party's premises for opposing alternative energy in place of fossil fuels? I know that many of them believe that global warming is false and/or is not influenced by our CO2 emissions, but global warming aside, I am having trouble understanding why to oppose it replacing fossil fuel, since most sources are renewable as opposed to fossil fuel, which can be depleted.

I am not looking for any debates, I am simply looking for the premises for opposing it. I'm not looking for anyone to defend or refute them, just a simple statement of their position.


4 Answers 4


Sorry, but the question itself is making incorrect premise.

Republican party does not, in any way, shape, or form, oppose "alternative energy". This is, at best, an honest mistake stemming from not knowing the facts, or at worst, typical political lie by the media.

In fact, GOP's official platform's energy policy is officially called “All of the Above

The United States and its neighbors to the North and South have been blessed with abundant energy resources, tapped and untapped, traditional and alternative, that are among the largest and most valuable on earth. Advancing technology has given us a more accurate understanding of the nation’s enormous reserves that are ours for the development. The role of public officials must be to encourage responsible development across the board. Unlike the current Administration, we will not pick winners and losers in the energy marketplace. Instead, we will let the free market and the public’s preferences determine the industry outcomes. In assessing the various sources of potential energy, Republicans advocate an all-of-the-above diversified approach, taking advantage of all our American God-given resources.

What they DO oppose are two things, each of them DIFFERENT from "alternative energy":

  1. They oppose government support (especially, though not exclusively so, in the form of taxpayer dollars) to alternative energy industry to make it even remotely competitive for energy consumers.

    In other words, if Google, on their own dime, does a bunch of things with energy conservation, alternative energy, and whatnot, Republican party as a whole couldn't care less and may even support that. Remember that oil independence from Middle East is a major GOP platform plank, and if Google invents some alternative energy technology which weans US off of ME oil, a vast majority of Republicans will be happy as clams.

    If an alternative-energy tech startup (such as the now-defunct Solyndra), on the other hand, requires taxpayer-guaranteed (and taxpayer-subsidized) grants or loans, that's what is being opposed.

  2. Attempts to hamper fossil fuel industry by government fiat. Now, this one is, indeed, somewhat rooted in anthropogenic global warming skepticism, specifically the cost-benefit analysis.

As a caveat, individual Republican party politicians DO oppose alternative energy vs. fossil fuels, because their own constituents are heavily involved with fossil fuel industry. But that's irrelevant to the spirit of the question, since (1) Democratic politicians in fossil fuel states pretty much do the same thing (See West Virginia's Democrat Manchin); and (2) Such behavior is really industry agnostic, and every politician of every party whose constituents are over-represented in a particular industry will of course behave the same way about competing disruptive industry; and (3) The main opposition is not on alternative energy per se, but on measures to tax/disrupt fossil fuel one.

  • 6
    @ZeroPiraeus - Oil companies pay an effective tax rate of 40%. Higher than ANY other industry (I got that when researching corporate tax rates on Skeptics.SE). The concept of "Oil tax subsidies" is what's disingenuous.
    – user4012
    Dec 15, 2012 at 23:36
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    @ZeroPiraeus - Also, I'd be very surprised if oil companies enjoy special major tax loopholes NOT afforded to non-oil energy companies. Feel free to prove otherwise.
    – user4012
    Dec 15, 2012 at 23:38
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    On loopholes: RBOTSA proposed to repeal seven tax benefits, six of which are specific to oil and gas production.
    – user97
    Dec 16, 2012 at 0:06
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    On partisanship - yes, it's a bill to divert tax benefits from the fossil fuel industry to the alternative energy industry. Near-unanimous opposition to it by Republicans would, therefore, suggest that they are in favour of the existing, opposite approach, no?
    – user97
    Dec 16, 2012 at 0:07
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    @ZeroPiraeus - the point is that GOP's goal is NOT to hurt alternative enegry per se. It may not be to HELP it, but the OP explicitly asked about "against" alternative energy. That is inaccurate as a portrayal of GOP's position.
    – user4012
    Dec 16, 2012 at 1:26

Fossil fuels are a finite resource. However, they are still very plentiful. Coal mining in the Appalachian Mountains is alive and well, Pennsylvanians are being told that we're the "Saudi Arabia of natural gas," etc. Because it's the way that we've gotten our energy for generations, the tech is mature, reliable, and efficient. Really, if you remove from the equation that 1) fossil fuels are a nonrenewable resource, and 2) fossil fuels harm the environment, there's no reason not to.

An eHow article of unusually high quality talks about some benefits of coal energy:

  • Available
  • Easy to transport
  • Provides low-skilled careers
  • Energy independence
  • Reliable (I saw a billboard around here once that said "Wind dies. The sun sets." That sort of thing)

Renewable energy is the future, and personally I believe very strongly in its potential and its importance to the future economy. However, alternative energy just can't match the efficiency of fossil fuels. At least not yet. So, the left wants to spur innovation, in the same way that government dollars and resources got us the Manhattan Project and the Apollo Program. The right prefers that the free market works it out. Republicans are a little more pragmatic about the current benefits of fossil fuels for today.

The idea of an established and powerful industry holding some sway over a political party might not be worth discounting either.


The Republicans are well known to be the party of Big Business. Fossil Fuels are Big Business. This skews their perspective on Global Warming.

It's probably the case that a large number of Republican politicians do actually believe the science on this, but it's not in their strategic political interest to admit it, since it's understood to be a Democrat issue. To admit it means conceding ground to the Democrats.

As Global Warming becomes increasingly impossible to deny - for example, The Economist finally threw in the towel this year and admitted that Global Warming is for real - then the more likelihood that it becomes a bipartisan issue.

  • 4
    First sentence contradicted by west coast business management: Facebook, Apple, Google... Nov 8, 2018 at 15:41
  • Google is still donating to the GOP anyhow: opensecrets.org/orgs/alphabet-inc/totals?id=d000067823 Sep 29, 2021 at 10:02
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    I'm afraid big business is already becoming corporate, which means it will support more regulation to kill competition, which means it will lean democratic. Sep 16, 2022 at 22:57
  • @elliotsvensson: No, its not contradicted because quite a few political analysts say that the Democrats and Republicans act lile two factions of one party. But of the two, Democrats try to stand up for democracy more. Sep 19, 2022 at 22:27
  • @verybigcat: Big Business = Corporation. So nothing new there. Sep 19, 2022 at 22:27

Republicans are not opposed to clean energy. They're opposed to business regulation that takes away the freedom to use fossil fuel energy with impunity. Be it a tax on energy, or a subsidy on energy.

Also they don't think it's very practical to try to switch. I mean, you need to invest some money into the generators, and they don't provide energy 24/7, and also you don't know for sure how government/power companies will pay for generated energy. It's a big potential for loos and disbelief. It's much easier to just buy energy as you go.

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