Who Puts The “Conserve” In Conservative?
Who Puts The “Conserve” In Conservative?
Some of you might snicker and say, “Republican Environmentalist? That’s an oxymoron.” But check your cynicism, open your mind and read on.
The Republican party, in fact, has a long history of support for the environmental movement. Theodore Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan immediately come to mind, but let’s not forget Richard Nixon, who appointed thoughtful conservationists like Russell Train, William Ruckelshaus and Rogers Morton to high positions within his administration. Even T. Boone Pickens, no friend to the liberal agenda, has thrown his considerable financial weight behind alternative energy solutions like wind energy.
Let’s face it, Republicans and Democrats approach the environmental issue from different perspectives, but that doesn’t mean that either should be excluded from the debate.
We should be applauding anyone who is trying to foster environmentalism, no matter what their political philosophy. If your focus is truly on saving the earth, then your political views have to take a back seat to recognizing good where you find it.
And when it comes down to it, we still have more in common than we think.
Yes, it’s election season and there’s certainly a lot of trash talk going on. But when it comes to how we treat our trash, Democrats and Republicans seem to agree.
According to the Curbside Value Partnership Program (CVP)—a national program created in 2003 and designed to help communities sustain effective recycling programs—recycling is one area where we can all get along.
The CVP study showed that the majority of both Democrats and Republicans are participating in curbside recycling. In fact, in areas where curbside recycling is available, an overwhelming 70% of Democrats and 69% of Republicans say they "always" recycle.
The study also found that 95% of Democrats and 94% of Republicans said that recycling was at least somewhat important to them, if not "very" or "extremely” important. More than half of respondents in both parties believe that recycling is their responsibility in order to help the environment.
While members of both parties carefully recycled both newspaper and aluminum cans, there was some division in how each political party handled other recyclables. The study found that Democrats are more careful to recycle glass (18%) than Republicans (10%) and Republicans are more careful to recycle plastic (24%) than Democrats (16%).
In fact, the CVP study points toward the recovery of a past in which environmentalism is not a one-party issue. Recent electoral trends, like the upset election in Massachusetts of conservative Scott Brown—whose support for environmental policies is listed on his website—indicate that there is growing bipartisan support for environmental issues.
Groups like Republicans for Environmental Protection (REP) are also giving Republicans a voice in the environmental debate. But the REP is no party-line GOP mouthpiece, either. They are holding Republicans accountable and ranking Republican environmental votes.
Headquartered in Albuquerque, New Mexico, the REP was formed in 1995 in part to advocate for strengthening the Republican platform on environmental issues. The REP has a grassroots membership of Republicans in 49 states who support environmental stewardship.
Each year, the REP ranks GOP members in terms of their support for environmental legislation and support for conservation policies. See the full list at REP Congressional Scorecard.
Top 10 Republican Congressional Environmentalists
1. Senator Susan Collins, (ME) Named one of the “Greenest Republicans” by REP, Senator Collins is a supporter of strong action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through conservative energy policies. She has voted to increase funding for National Forests and to include oil and gas smokestacks in mercury legislations. The LCV (The League OF Conservation Voters) has rated her as one of the most environmentally friendly Republicans.
2. Elizabeth Dole (NC)
3. Olympia Snowe (ME)
4. Bob Corker (TN)
5. Kit Bond (FL)
U.S. House Of Representatives
1. Rep. Mark Kirk (IL) also named one of the “Greenest Republicans” is the top-scoring House member in REP’s Scorecard. He is a leading voice among House Republicans for balanced energy policies and for protecting Americans from air and water pollution.
Kirk has championed protection of the Great Lakes and other bodies of water, keeping the air free of harmful pollutants, developing cleaner energy sources, and protecting America’s many natural treasures.
2. Frank LoBiondo (NJ)
3. Vern Ehlers (MI)
4. Wayne Gilchrest (MD)
5. Dave Reichert (WA)
It shouldn’t surprise you to find out that there are Republican members of congress who support environmental causes. And as Ronald Reagan said, "What is a conservative after all but one who conserves, one who is committed to protecting and holding close the things by which we live... And we want to protect and conserve the land on which we live—our countryside, our rivers and mountains, our plains and meadows and forests. This is our patrimony. This is what we leave to our children. And our great moral responsibility is to leave it to them either as we found it or better than we found it.”
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