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Wind turbines slowly spin in the wind at the High Sheldon Wind Farm, Photo: Julie Jacobson / AP

A group called New Energy America is launching today that will promote renewable energy industry jobs in rural regions nationwide, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: The group, which is funded by renewable energy companies, could influence lawmakers in red-leaning areas amid policy battles that affect wind, solar, biofuels, and other sectors.

"The point is to make sure there is accountability in places where clean energy jobs are growing, but elected officials are voting against policies that can support the growth of clean energy," a source familiar with the group's planning tells Axios.

Who they are: Mike Carr, who was a senior Energy Department renewables official under President Obama, is the executive director. Kendra Kostek, who was an aide to Hillary Clinton's presidential run, is director of public engagement.

  • Advisory board members include former longtime California Democratic congressman George Miller, who chaired the House Education and Labor Committee; and Jon Powers, co-founder of the solar investment firm CleanCapital and was the federal chief sustainability officer under Obama.

Opening move: They're releasing a report today that provides a state-by-state tally of jobs in fossil fuels versus renewable power sources like wind and solar, biofuels and energy efficiency. It finds that these "clean energy" and efficiency jobs combined already outnumber fossil fuel employment in 41 states.

What's next: Going forward, the source tells Axios that the group will engage in many areas that affect renewables and efficiency, such as: the fate of EPA's Clean Power Plan; tax credits for renewable power projects; solar trade policy; federal spending decisions; and work on grid reliability at the Energy Department and FERC. (Editor's note: there's concern in the renewables world that the Trump administration's focus on "reliability" is a stalking horse for attacking pro-renewables policies or propping up coal and nuclear.)

They're also likely to engage at the state level on topics such as proposed legislation in California to transition to all-renewable power in coming decades; state-based renewable power mandates and more. The push in rural areas and red states will involve grassroots work as well and digital and earned media campaigns, the source said.

In their words:

"The electricians installing solar panels, the welders building wind turbines, and the truck drivers delivering biofuels all benefit from policies that promote clean energy, and we're here to tell their stories," Carr said.

Go deeper

Austria approves COVID vaccine mandate for adults

A vaccination center installed at the Barbara Chapel of St Stephen's Cathedral in Vienna, Austria. Photo: Alex Halada/AFP via Getty Images

Austria's lower house of parliament voted on Thursday in favor of making COVID-19 vaccinations compulsory for most adults from next month.

Why it matters: The bill is expected to soon pass the upper house and be signed by President Alexander Van der Bellen in order for the law to take effect Feb. 1, per Reuters. It'd make Austria the first EU nation to impose such a sweeping mandate.

Hope King, author of Closer
Updated 3 hours ago - Economy & Business

Peloton pumps its brakes

Data: FactSet; Chart: Axios Visuals

Peloton’s popularity is falling as swiftly as it shot up.

Why it matters: Not all pandemic habits stick around. Peloton's trajectory over the past two years exemplifies how challenging it's been for companies to gauge shifts in consumer demand — particularly in sectors heavily altered by the pandemic.

Mitch McConnell's remarks on Black voters raise ire

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell during a Capitol Hill news conference earlier this year. Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has been widely criticized for comments he made this week about Black American voters.

Driving the news: When asked by a reporter Wednesday about concerns among voters of color, McConnell said "the concern is misplaced, because if you look at the statistics, Black American voters are voting in just as high a percentage as Americans."