IN CASE YOU DIDN’T KNOW
This was a secondary article in the first issue of REP’s Green Elephant newsletter
AN HISTORICAL DOCUMENT: Originally published in the spring 1997 issue.
REPUBLICANS FOR ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION began as a response to the unfortunate anti-environmental zeal of many GOP leaders in the 104th Congress, a zeal that filled Republican voters across the country with dismay.
In the summer of 1995, after watching in disbelief for several months as GOP leaders in Washington attacked the laws that have cleaned up our air and water, saved species from extinction, and protected many of our fine natural public lands from exploitation, a group of Republican voters formed REP and began speaking up as Republicans who care about these things and don’t want to see them cast aside.
Most REP members also belong to some of the bigger green groups. Many GOP leaders, however, seem to think that those groups are filled only with anti-Republican “liberals,” and they feel justified in ignoring them.
So REP has a special mission: to make sure that our party’s leaders and elected officials in Congress and the state legislatures know that Republican voters want conservation to be a bipartisan concern once again. We expect our elected leaders to look out for our interests and the interests of future generations, not just those of extractive industries and others with deep pockets who seek short-term profits by weakening the laws that give long-term protection to the American people and the land and creatures we all love.
How does REP answer those who believe that no “real Republican” wants to protect the environment or believes in conservation?
How do we respond to those who insist that regulatory reform and property rights are more vital than laws to prevent the extinction of species?
First, we point with pride to the great GOP leaders of the past who fought to save natural treasures, signed landmark environmental-protection laws, and established many of the policies we take for granted today.
We remember Teddy Roosevelt, who established our unmatched system of wildlife refuges and national parks. We remind people that Barry Goldwater, the father of modern conservatism, is a lifelong conservationist (and also a REP member). We recall that Richard Nixon signed the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, the Endangered Species Act, the National Environmental Policy Act, and also established the Environmental Protection Agency.
Second, we talk of the bi-partisan efforts of previous decades, which eliminated burning rivers, toxic waste dumps, DDT and other environmental horrors. Republicans had no special exemption from polluted air and contaminated water, so they made sure their leaders heeded their concerns.
Third, we remind skeptics that nothing is more conservative than conservation. True conservatives should safeguard the resources on which the health, recreation, and economic prosperity of present and future Americans depend. There is nothing conservative, and certainly nothing wise, in squandering our wildlife, wilderness, and other natural treasures.
In 1996, to help steer the GOP back to a conservation-friendly mind set, REP presented its first “Environmental Legislator of the Year” award to Rep. Chris Shays (R-CT) and announced GOP Congressional “Environmental Heroes and Zeroes.”
REP is growing larger and stronger every month. We invite registered Republicans and Republican-supportive voters who share our concerns to join our fight to restore a bipartisan spirit of concern for conservation and protection of the environment we all share.