From 20 years in Congress to off-grid living

Roscoe Bartlett photo
CC BY 2.0 USDA

It's common for any discussion of clean energy to get hyper-politicized before it's even gotten started—and more often than not, you'll find environmentalists pointing fingers at climate change denying conservatives. And the GOP establishment has certainly failed, of late, to take climate science seriously.

Yet there are plenty of Republicans still carrying the torch for clean energy. And Roscoe Bartlett, a 20-year veteran of Congress, may be the granddaddy of them all.

Politico Magazine has a fascinating profile of the 87 year old Bartlett, detailing how he spent 20 years arguing for smaller government, more self reliance, and a thoroughly modernized electrical grid based on clean, distributed sources of energy—before retreating to West Virginia to manage his 153-acre off grid property and prepare for the apocalypse he believes is inevitable:

It’s all part of practicing what you preach, he says. In Bartlett’s case, that’s a lifestyle that relies on the government and other people as little as possible. Certainly, that was always his political platform; as the congressman from Maryland’s 6th district, he advocated limited government, living within one’s means—and, more surprising perhaps for a conservative Republican, expanding green energy.

Interestingly, Bartlett appears more concerned by our vulnerability to terrorist attacks and foreign aggression through electromagnetic pulse weapons (EMPs) than he is worried about climate change, but the end result of that concern is still a belief in resilience and responsibility. (Some grassroots Tea Partiers have become advocates for solar power, arguing it empowers more local autonomy.) Bartlett was also the founder of the Peak Oil Caucus, dedicated to exploring the economic and social threat of resource depletion. Here he is talking about the issue in Congress.

I might disagree with Bartlett on much of his politics, but I am heartened to see a politician who practices what he preaches. I just wish there were more like him on both sides of the aisle.

Tags: Activism | Alternative Energy | Congress | Renewable Energy | resilience | Solar Power