Opinion: Conservatism and clean energy go together. Leaders are showing how in Iowa.


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John Szoka and Nick Boeyink

First published in the Des Moines Register August 18

As the 2024 presidential election draws near, the Iowa State Fair takes center stage as a political hotspot, attracting prominent conservative leaders and presidential hopefuls from across the nation. This year, the Conservative Energy Network, or CEN, a nonprofit coalition of 24 state-based conservative clean energy organizations, is attending the fair as part of Conservative Conclave XIV, an annual event taking place concurrently in Des Moines.

Conclave attendees share a common mission to advance energy policy solutions that emphasize market competition, consumer choice, and innovation. This year’s conclave, Aug. 14 to 17, carried added significance as more than 70 conservative clean energy supporters, hosted by the Iowa Conservative Energy Forum, gathered to champion a powerful message: the convergence of conservatism and clean energy.

The Conservative Energy Network recognizes that conservatism and clean energy are not mutually exclusive, and this event serves as a testament to that fact. By embracing innovation and forward-thinking, conservatives can lead the charge in shaping America’s energy future. From critical minerals to emerging technologies, discussions during the event aimed to delve into the potential of clean energy to not only enhance national security and economic prosperity but also conserve our natural resources for future generations.

The gathering in Des Moines is more than just an opportunity to discuss clean energy initiatives; it is a platform for strengthening inter-state connections among conservative leaders. With representatives from 24 states participating, the event fosters collaboration and shared best practices, allowing for a unified approach to advancing clean energy policies nationwide. The power of these connections cannot be overstated, as learning from each other serves as a formidable tool for advancing sustainable energy solutions that transcend state lines.

One of the highlights of this year’s gathering is the opportunity to participate in Solar Day at the Iowa State Fair. In the company of conservative leaders, members of the Iowa agriculture community, and clean energy industry representatives, Gov. Kim Reynolds signed a proclamation naming Aug. 16, 2023 “Iowa Solar Day” in recognition of the immense potential of solar power. This annual event showcases how clean energy can strengthen rural communities, demonstrating its viability as a reliable and cost-effective energy source that aligns with conservative values of self-reliance and independence.

Every year, the Conservative Conclave garners attention from influential policymakers who recognize the importance of clean energy in America’s energy portfolio. This year, attendees heard from current and former state policymakers as well as U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley and U.S. Rep. Zach Nunn. As the presidential candidates converge at the Iowa State Fair, this united voice from the Conservative Energy Network and the Iowa Conservative Energy Forum sends a resounding message that clean energy can play a pivotal role in driving economic growth, creating jobs, and securing a sustainable and prosperous future for all Americans.

As the political spotlight shines on Des Moines, the efforts of the Conservative Energy Network remind us that clean energy is not a partisan issue but a pathway towards a stronger America. Embracing clean energy solutions within conservative principles is not only possible but essential in shaping a more sustainable future. By building inter-state connections and fostering a united voice, the state-based members of the network lead the way in demonstrating how conservative leadership can drive transformative change while being responsible stewards of our natural resources, and securing America’s place as a global clean energy leader.

Co-authored by the CEO of the Conservative Energy Network John Szoka and the Executive Director of the Iowa Conservative Energy Forum Nick Boeyink.