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Why Is the Tea Party Teaming Up With the Sierra Club?

This may seem strange to progressives, but it’s actually indicative of a larger shift in the conservative movement.

Conservatives in Georgia were in for a shock in July when they saw Atlanta Tea Party members hanging out with representatives of the Sierra Club. According to Debbie Dooley in an article for Grist, this is just one of the Tea Party’s latest attempts to champion the free market.

Dooley calls it “The Green Tea Coalition.” It’s a partnership of free-market loving conservatives and environmental activists working toward a common goal: lifting state restrictions on renewable energy and allowing residents the choice of running their homes on clean power.

In her article, Dooley explains it this way:

If an individual wants to harvest the sunlight that’s falling on their property and sell it for a profit, that’s their American right. There are now programs in other states that allow people to lease solar panels for their roofs with no up-front cost, enabling them to become local energy entrepreneurs who can sell their solar energy back into the grid and power their homes for less. Georgians are currently and unjustly denied this opportunity, and will continue to be unless a law is passed to change the system.

This may seem strange to progressives, but it’s actually indicative of a larger shift in the conservative movement. A recent Yale study indicated that more than 60% of Republicans and right-leaning Independents actually believe the United States needs to take more action on climate change, and a whopping 80% would like to see more renewable energy use in the country.

While the GOP has tried to kill any environmental bills in Congress over the past few years, it seems that has more to do with their dislike of Obama than the actual desires of their base. Mike Hower of Triple Pundit argues that the problem is GOP supporters have failed to make climate change a priority at the ballot box — but that there are signs of change in the air. Republican governors and even presidential hopefuls like Chris Christie are starting to come out publicly in support of renewable energy, even working to pass state and local legislation that supports the industry.

Here’s hoping The Green Tea Coalition and other movements like it are the first step towards both sides of the aisle finally tackling climate change head-on.

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