It’s time to take our party back on environmental issues.
By KATHY MCCOY,
vice president of REP’s New Mexico Chapter
AN HISTORICAL DOCUMENT: This op-ed was published on REP’s website and in The Green Elephant in June 2002.
It’s time to take back our party on environmental issues
It is time for the Republican party to “take back” the environmental platform that was initiated by one of our country’s most respected Republicans, none other than President Theodore Roosevelt, who proclaimed, “I do not intend that our natural resources shall be exploited by the few against the interests of many.” More recently, Theodore Roosevelt IV (great-grandson of President Roosevelt), stated that Republicans like to frame the argument in terms of “a choice between property rights and wildlife, jobs and pollution, economic strength or environmental health.” At best, this concept is divisive; at worst, it’s patently untrue. Unfortunately, exploitation is precisely what is occurring today, largely due to Republican initiatives.
This country has a Superfund because business interests have been given priority over environmental concerns. And who pays for this? We do, of course, and as taxpayers we should be fighting mad. A message to our political representatives: Don’t use my tax dollars to trash my environment, then tax me again to clean it up. We must not meekly stand by while some of our Republican representatives vote to promote and subsidize polluting industries and chip away at the Clean Water Act, the Endangered Species Act and the important efforts of the Environmental Protection Agency. The Republican Party must change its course and return to the environmental platform.
A national grassroots organization, Republicans for Environmental Protection (REP), formed in 1995 to resurrect and restore the GOP’s conservation tradition as a fundamental element of the Republican Party. REP has members in 48 states and chapters in 9, including New Mexico, where we have much work to do. Perhaps the greatest danger to New Mexico’s environmental health and taxpayer wallets is the way in which we choose to grow. At the moment, things are looking bleak. Immediate and long-term costs to the environment and taxpayers are often minimized in development plans.
Efforts to control sprawl development at the fringes of Albuquerque (and other communities) are met with disdain by a small, but powerful, group of developers and others who will benefit greatly by taxpayer-subsidized water, sewer, roads, and schools. Water will dictate the future growth of our state, but does anyone else find it curious that decision-makers allow immense subdivisions, water-guzzling industry and golf courses, while, at the same, time berating the residents for not conserving water? Roads are vital components of infrastructure, but some roads are proposed and built without concern for the inevitable sprawl that they encourage. Sprawl is not growth; it simply redistributes wealth to areas that cost less to develop, but cost us more in taxes.
As concerned citizens, we must decide how much we value open space, unpolluted air and clean water. We must do our part to help guide environmentally sound growth that is protected from exploitation “…by the few against the interests of many.” Our political representatives at all levels of government need to know that there is a large and growing group of Republicans who are tired of subsidizing development that should be paying its own way. Most importantly, all growth should be held to standards that will sustain future generations. REP’s goal is to put our Republican representatives on notice that we want representation that reflects our views.