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It’s not about red or blue

November 8, 2020

Amidst the anxiety and uncertainty of the election, it’s worth noting that the Trump administration officially withdrew the U.S. from the Paris climate agreement on Wednesday. Joe Biden said he’d rejoin that agreement on his first day in office if he won. It's a shame the climate issue has become so polarizing, because all the data we have says that addressing climate change is also the most effective and financially responsible way to stimulate our lagging economy.

In the spirit of the countless red and blue state charts we’ve all studied this week, we thought we would take a look at how decarbonization would affect red and blue states differently, and who would gain from massive electrification. Spoiler: The answer is everyone wins.

Our research has made clear that using electricity, rather than gasoline, natural gas, or coal, has huge potential to save Americans money (1-2.5k per year on average). Per mile driven, per room heated, per meal cooked, it's simply the cheapest way to live your life. As you’ll see, it’s the Red states that stand to gain proportionally more in the process.

First, it's true that Red states generate the majority of fossil fuels today:

All U.S. Fossil Production, 2015 by 2016 election preference

But the overwhelming majority of all of our electricity generation comes from Red states, too, including the majority of our renewable generation and nuclear power, employing hundreds of thousands of Americans.

All U.S. electricity generation, 2015 by 2016 election preference

What happens if we make the switch to electricity as we head into a zero-carbon future? Switching our infrastructure to run on electricity will expand the grid by about 3-4x, and since renewable generation requires more land than fossil fuels (space for solar arrays and wind turbines), the windfalls will almost certainly favor these same Red states.

U.S. land area (million square miles) by 2016 electoral preference

The data is clear: electrifying benefits all Americans, not just some. It saves us $300 billion a year, and creates 25 million good-paying, impossible-to-outsource jobs in every zip code in the country. We can meet the goals of the Paris agreement while rebuilding our economy – especially in rural and red areas.

Want more cutting-edge research on electrification? Donate to keep our engineers, scientists, and policy wonks busy. And join us! We are looking for volunteers to help bring electrification to the local level. Confronting climate change doesn’t start at the top, with whoever is President. It starts in your own home, and your community.