REP’S HISTORY, PART 2
1996-2006: A DECADE OF GROWTH AND POLITICAL ENGAGEMENT (continued)
2001: Getting serious, building capacity, honing the message
Early in 2001, REP opened an office in Albuquerque, New Mexico (getting it out of Martha’s home office, at last, after five years). Ruth Fish joined the team as executive assistant and quickly became the essential and popular go-to person for members and all others interested in or involved with REP.Around the same time, after five years as a board member and volunteer in-house policy and communications expert, Jim DiPeso joined the staff as policy director. His impressive output that followed defined REP policies for the next ten years, during which time he produced an amazing quantity, quality, and variety of work. Below are a few of Jim’s writings from 2001… just on the related subjects of energy and climate. (There were more on other topics.)
- America, it’s time for a new Manhattan Project!
- Energy Security, Patriotism, and Roosevelt 101
- Energy and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge
- Global Climate Change: The time for leadership is now
Along the way, REP released a “special edition” publication on clean energy and climate change and held its second Republican Environmental Summit, called “Republicans for a Responsible Energy Plan” (see below), addressing those same related issues.
Also very early that year — on January 12, to be precise — REP finally took its place as one of America’s leading national environmental advocacy organizations when Martha spoke at a press conference in Washington, D.C., expressing REP’s official opposition to the nomination of Gale Norton for interior secretary. Click that link to read her speech and even watch the full C-span video of the event, if you like.
And she returned to the DC area in June to give the plenary speech, Conservatives should conserve, shouldn’t they?, at the annual convention of the National Association of Environmental Professionals.
In April, Alabama REP member Bob Mount, Ph.D., an Auburn University professor emeritus of zoology and entomology, mentioned REP’s uphill battle within the GOP, Opelika-Auburn (AL) News: Environmental concerns being ignored.
In September, Theodore Roosevelt IV, REP’s first lifetime member, published An Ecological Betrayal in the Boston Globe.
REP’s July 2001 “Republicans for a Responsible Energy Plan” conference at the Willard Hotel in Washington, DC., was a clear attempt by the still-young grassroots organization to reach out to the “old guard” of the traditional Republican Party, which shared REP’s environmental and conservation ethic.
In addition, REP’s members and leaders were looking for ways to raise the visibility of its positions on clean energy and climate change and shift the GOP toward more proactive policies on those issues.
Unfortunately, the newer power players in the GOP — not only then but now as well — have proved to be generally uninterested in that message. (But still, REP members persist.)
Among the VIPs who attended and spoke were: Theodore Roosevelt IV, Susan Eisenhower, Congressman Sherwood Boehlert (NY), Lt. Governor Corinne Wood (IL), former EPA Administrator Russell Train, former Governor David Cargo (NM), Larry Rockefeller (who generously funded the event), and some two dozen other REP members, including GOP elected officials
The photo below shows some of the participants. The event was well covered by the media.
As a follow-up, former New Mexico Governor David Cargo (shown in the photo below, 2nd from the right between Theodore Roosevelt IV and Larry Rockefeller) published Energy bill bust. In that article, Gov. Cargo described the conference and how participants followed up after it ended:
“Last July, I was part of a group of Republicans who gathered in Washington to take a position on energy legislation. The group included some well-known and historic Republican names, including Susan Eisenhower, Larry Rockefeller, Russell Train, Theodore Roosevelt IV … and others who care deeply about this country, its future and its great natural resources. We added the names of hundreds of newly elected officials and sent a letter to President Bush on behalf of “Republicans for a Responsible Energy Plan. Then we added a number of new names and took out a full-page ad in The New York Times, Roll Call and the Washington Post.”
And REP also rolled out its own Energy legislation deplorable op-ed in newspapers around the country.
2002-2003: Speaking up, finding allies, building a “Green GOP” grassroots army
In 2002, Larry Kanz joined the team as chapter assistance director and became an essential player in getting the new state organizations up and running. In the Illinois Chapter photo below, Larry is in the tan suit in the lower left corner, and Jim DiPeso is the one in coat and tie a row behind.
REP’s first media blast of the year came early — on January 3, 2002 — when the Washington Post published this letter to the editor about the fiscal folly of drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Although Martha Marks signed and submitted it as REP’s president, the LTE was written by Director Vince Williams, a professional wildlife biologist.
Virginia REP member Bruce Smart published A placebo for climate change? in the Denver Post on February 24.
During these two super-busy years (and also the super-busy years before and after), REP leaders at both the state and national levels attended — and often were invited to speak at — a wide variety of other nonprofit groups’ events. They placed op-eds in other groups’ newsletters and websites. They built productive relationships with other leaders, networked with kindred spirits of all political persuasions, and talked about REP to local reporters… whose follow-up stories organically expanded REP’s membership across the country. One example was this op-ed by Martha that The Wilderness Society published in their spring 2002 newsletter: A conservative conservationist looks at Roosevelt and Bush.
Certain REP leaders’ messages might have sounded something like this:
Yes, we’re real Republicans. Traditional Republicans. Teddy Roosevelt Republicans. Some of us call ourselves Rockefeller Republicans. And that means, yes, we’re also real environmentalists and conservationists. We’re proud to be on the same team as all of you, because we want the same things that you do. And we believe that, if we can find common ground and work together, we’ll have a better chance of achieving the bipartisan support we need to move us permanently closer to our mutual goals.
Others probably expressed messages that sounded more like this:
We’re proud conservative Republicans. We base our philosophy in the writings of thinkers like Edmund Burke, who laid the foundation for traditional conservatism… and also for traditional conservation. We recall leaders like Ronald Reagan, who — despite being a proud conservative — solved the problem of the ozone hole in the atmosphere and also signed into law more wilderness-conservation bills than any other president in history. We believe that conservatives can and should be conservationists… because as our trademarked slogan says: “Conservation is conservative.”
But however they expressed their own personal philosophies, the message was always clear. REP was a genuine GOP environmental and conservation organization. Their movement was big enough and strong enough to incorporate all kinds of Republicans… no matter how they might have chosen to describe themselves. And the members, by mutual agreement, steered clear of any issues that might tear their organization apart. Concentrating on the things they agreed on kept REP members united for longer than many might have expected.
In August 2002, REP joined other conservation groups in a very public fight with the Blue Ribbon Coalition, a “wise use” front group for the extractive industries, including many foreign companies. We fervently objected to their goal of building more roads in America’s wild forests. REP took part in a press conference in Billings, Montana to make clear our position on the issue. Oregon REP member James Monteith delivered our statement: REP challenges the Blue Ribbon Coalition.
Also in August 2002, REP participated in a variety of press conference to support roadless-area and wilderness designations for America’s remaining top-quality forests. At an event in Washington, D.C., REP Director Tony Cobb delivered our statement: REP supports wilderness protection for the Tongass National Forest.
In December 2002, REP held its own “Wilderness for Conservatives” conference in Albuquerque. Among those who attended and spoke were representatives of other organizations like The Wilderness Society, The Sierra Club, and Taxpayers for Common Sense, plus members of the religious community and lifelong wilderness advocates. The emphasis was on how to rally conservatives — both ordinary citizens and elected officials — to support greater protection of wilderness areas. Martha spoke on REP’s role in future wilderness campaigns.
Over the years, Martha and other REP leaders at every level took their own variation of REP’s message to the large annual conferences of a wide variety of other groups: American Rivers, Greater Yellowstone Coalition, Friends of the Boundary Waters, Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Idaho Conservation League, and many others.
In addition, a wide variety of REP members and unofficial “friends of REP” around the country arranged for Martha and other leaders to address local groups.
Here are some examples of how individual members and “friends of REP” helped spread awareness, taken just from Martha’s schedule of speeches:
- May 2002: Margie Haley, a longtime friend of REP, invited Martha to deliver the keynote speech, Is sprawl a conservative concern?” at the Sustainable Dallas conference.
- November 2002: Thanks to Martha’s friendship with leaders of the national organization American Rivers, she was invited to give the keynote speech to the River Alliance of Wisconsin. Appropriately for the post-9/11 era, her speech was built around the theme River activists are patriots.
- March 2003: Invited because of her membership on the national Board of Directors of the League of Conservation Voters (LCV), Martha delivered You bet they’ll care! at the Federation of State Conservation Voters Leagues annual conference in Albuquerque.
- May 2003: At the invitation of Florida Chapter President Joan DeGuire, Martha spoke to the famously difficult members of the Seacoast Tiger Bay Club in Tampa. It turned out to be a wicked-good time for all. Even after all these years, Martha still believes that her “Fang and Claw” speech is the best she ever wrote. For sure, she says, it was the most fun to deliver!
- September 2003: Chuck McGrady, REP’s North Carolina coordinator, had served previously as the elected national president of the Sierra Club and later would go on to be a state representative. He arranged for Martha to give the keynote speech, Conservatively speaking, to the annual meeting of the Western North Carolina Alliance. Chuck also escorted Martha around the Asheville area and introduced her and REP to interested individuals and groups. Together, they did joint interviews with local reporters.
- October 2003: Again through her LCV contacts, Martha delivered the keynote address, Just say NO! to the 2003 pork-barrel legislation, at the Minnesota Conservation Voters annual dinner in St. Paul.
- Also in October 2003: Ann Drumm, another friend of REP in Dallas, invited Martha to address the regular monthly meeting of the Dallas Sierra Club and afterward hosted a very special reception for her and other area REP members. Martha’s Debunking the false dichotomy provoked a lively discussion.
- February 2004: As she had been two years earlier, Margie Haley of Dallas was responsible for another one of Martha’s speeches, this time to the High Country Conservation Advocates in Crested Butte, Colorado. Martha built the theme of her talk, Loving the Earth: A bipartisan affair, around the upcoming Valentine’s Day.
- Also in February 2004, Martha delivered The magic of our message to the Legislative Directors of the Garden Club of America, in Washington, D.C.,
- April 2004: she returned to D.C. to deliver REP’s Earth Day message to the GOP at a press conference with other national environmental leaders.
- September 2004: Following the LCV connection again, Martha delivered In the name of bipartisanship to the Colorado Conservation Voters annual dinner.
- April 2005: Friends in the land-conservation community arranged for Martha to give the dinner speech, Land conservation is conservative, patriotic, and spiritual, at the Pennsylvania Land Trust Association in Lancaster.
And the relationships that developed from those gatherings over the years bore fruit in many ways. To cite one particularly notable example…
Sometime around 2000, a few REP members attended a meeting of the Boulder-White Cloud Council in Idaho, where they met singer-songwriter Carole King, a dedicated advocate for that special region. This budding friendship ultimately led to a unique bi-partisan advocacy adventure in Washington.
Early in 2002, Carole and Martha teamed up for two days of lobbying GOP congressmen and senators in support of the proposed White Cloud Wilderness. And the approach really was unique. Carole’s celebrity status guaranteed access to even the most wilderness-averse Republicans. And then, once in the door, Martha was able to “pitch” them with REP’s usual conservative arguments for why they should support the White Cloud Wilderness proposal. It took a long time and a lot more bipartisan efforts — including by REP — but the White Cloud Wilderness designation did finally come to fruition in 2015.
Meanwhile, in 2003, Carole returned the favor by lending her celebrity appeal to a special event that REP held for Congressman Sherwood Boehlert (R, NY). Boehlert, one of REP’s greatest heroes who (not surprisingly) supported the White Cloud Wilderness designation, was scheduled to be the special guest speaker at REP’s 2003 conference in San Diego. REP co-founder Aurie Kryzuda arranged for a lovely outdoor venue at the home of a friend of hers. Carole’s presence attract a good crowd to learn about Rep. Boehlert and also REP.
The next night, to a large, enthusiastic crowd, Congressman Boehlert delivered Being a moderate, which he then graciously allowed REP to publish in the next Green Elephant. (Four years later, after his retirement from Congress, he wrote an excellent article on the Clean Water Act exclusively for one of REP’s publications.)
REP leaders at all levels spoke at GOP events, too. As an early example, in 1997 Martha made the first-ever presentation about REP to a full gathering of attendees at the Midwest Republican Leadership Conference in Indianapolis. Gordon Durnil, a REP member who was a previous Indiana Republican Party Chairman, invited her to address a session focused on environmental issues. (Gordon also had contributed two articles to the first year of The Green Elephant.)
And in 2003, Martha flew to Honolulu to launch REP’s Hawaii Chapter, which had formed under the leadership of State Representatives Mindy Jaffe, Cynthia Thielen, and Charles Djou. She also addressed the full hall of delegates at the state GOP convention. At the new chapter’s first meeting, Mindy was elected president. Rep. Djou later went on to become a Member of Congress.
State leaders nationwide also went to great lengths to build relationships with their local and state Republican leaders. Over the years, they spoke at GOP conferences and meetings in California, Washington State, Florida, Texas, Illinois, Minnesota, Massachusetts, and elsewhere.
When it came to issue advocacy, REP was on a roll in 2002-2003, as newspapers around the country ran op-eds by REP members, directors, and staff. Some of the best were written by REP’s prolific Policy Director Jim DiPeso.
The green box below contains a few choice examples of Jim’s handiwork from 2002-2005. All are still great reading and totally relevant in the 2020s.
A sample of Jim DiPeso’s speeches 2002-2005
A sample of Jim DiPeso’s op-eds 2002-2005
Still saving trees (about the Antiquities Act)
Likewise, Jim and other REP members kept providing superb material for The Green Elephant. Here are a few from 2002-2005.
- Why Sprawl is a Conservative Issue, Part 1, and Part 2, by Michael E. Lewyn, summer and fall 2002
- America’s Wilderness Heritage, by Jim DiPeso, winter 2002-2003
- Ten Reasons Why Conservatives Should Be Environmentalists, by Philip R. Pryde, PhD., summer 2003
- Greening the Elephant: ‘Republicans for Environmental Protection’ is not an oxymoron, by Martha Marks, fall 2003 (NOTE: this piece was syndicated by Writers on the Range, a service of High Country News, and published in Grist before REP reprinted it.
- Saving Life on Earth: Doing Noah’s job today was the lead feature in spring 2004. As if we needed more reminders of the value of our national wildlife refuges, REP’s most prolific member-author, Texas REP member John R. E. Bliese, Ph.D., provided the last of four articles that he wrote just for us.
- In summer 2004, former Montana State Senator George Darrow, a REP member, shared a marvelous speech that President George Herbert Walker Bush had given in Helena, Montana in 1989, along with this background and commentary by Senator Darrow.
- Conservative by nature, by Massachusetts REP member Rob Traver, Ed.D. was the feature article in summer 2005. Rob used his writing and analytical skills to suggest new arguments in favor of saving the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, which was becoming a hot national issue (see below).
2004-2005: Preparing for the fiercest fight, savoring the sweetest victory
In August 2004, three REP leaders — President Martha Marks, Policy Director Jim DiPeso, and Ohio coordinator Fran Buchholzer — spent an extraordinary week camping, rafting, and exploring the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
They and two other non-REP guests were invited by the Juneau-based Alaska Coalition, which graciously provided air transportation from Anchorage to primitive Gwich’in Village and on to the Refuge via a single-engine, 4-seater “Coyote Air” airplane. On the tundra, the Coalition provided rafts, tents, food, and fine guides… Dan Ritzman, John McWhorter, and Chris Soderstrom.
The Alaska Coalition had invited the REP leaders because of the threat to the refuge that was expected to come the following year. And as a result, when the threat actually did come in the form of massively invasive oil and gas exploration, Fran, Jim, and Martha were well prepared to speak out personally and convincingly of the need to protect the refuge and bring their fellow REP members along for the battle.
Through The Green Elephant, they shared the photos you see here and others. They described the wonders they had seen. Majestic mountains covered with snow in August. Golden eagles soaring overhead. Mammals of all sizes and shapes… The friendly Arctic Ground Squirrel they named “El Gordo” when he visited their campsite one evening. The herds of iconic Caribou, including males with massive antlers (see Martha’s banner photo at top of this page) and curious mamas grazing with their calves on the banks of the Canning River as the equally curious humans floated by. Nesting birds taking full advantage of the short summer. Brilliant flowers on the lush tundra. A remarkable white rainbow. A sun that never set. And the unforgettable experience of rafting toward the North Sea, getting colder with each mile, until finally the day came when they were able to wade in the icy water — assuming they wanted to — inside the Arctic Circle.
Jim kept a diary and later wrote a superb report of the trip, which you can read here: Jim DiPeso’s Arctic Refuge Chronicles.
A week after coming home, Jim gave this statement at a press conference. The subject was national forest roadless areas, but it contained this marvelous observation: “Last week, I visited one of the most spectacular roadless places in America: the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. We saw many wonderful things – a vast expanse of sky and tundra, caribou splashing in the river, golden eagles, and Arctic terns, intrepid birds which fly from the Arctic to the Antarctic every year, more than 20,000 miles round trip. Talk about a long commute. There were eight of us in my group, some Republicans, some Democrats. But we weren’t visiting the coastal plain as Republicans or Democrats. We were visiting that spectacular place as Americans who fight for protection of our nation’s great natural heritage. That is a cause that transcends mere partisanship. The coastal plain deserves full and permanent protection.”
The rest of the REP membership responded to these personal testimonials by contacting their GOP senators and representatives, urging them to protect the refuge that many said they now felt they had visited for themselves. REP members also helped educate the public, as New Mexico Chapter President Ken Whiton did with economic and ecological concerns in Arctic bait and switch.
In January 2005, thanks to the extraordinary generosity of a friend of REP, Trammell S. Crow of Dallas, REP was able to hire its first staff member in Washington, D.C. David Jenkins was brought in as government affairs director, specifically to help win what everybody knew would be a ferocious fight over the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The board authorized Dave to do whatever it took to save it, and he rose to the occasion.
Later that year, with Dave’s guidance, REP members all across the country successfully rallied Republicans in the House of Representatives to stand up to their leaders. Twenty-six House Republicans refused to go along with a provision to drill for oil in the pristine Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. That terrible provision had been inserted into a must-pass budget bill. But still, thanks to those Green GOP heroes, it was removed.
For more about that and to see the list of 26 House Republicans who stood up for the refuge, visit this page of the website of The Green Elephant Coalition, a REP- affiliated group.
REP’s role in that victory was clear and obvious to all who followed it.
As another good friend of REP, The Wilderness Society President Bill Meadows, told reporters on the record:
“There are many organizations—national, regional, local—that have worked diligently to protect the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for decades, but the most important organization in the campaign this year has been REP.” —President Bill Meadows, The Wilderness Society, 2005
One more wonderful thing that David Jenkins brought to REP was a concept that eventually became the widely acclaimed Conservative Environmental Policy Quarterly (C.E.P. Quarterly), which was published between 2005 and 2009.
REP and its “sister” foundation, now called Conservatives for Responsible Stewardship, co-produced these unique publications, which were targeted specifically at Congressional Republicans.
Dave hand delivered each issue to GOP members of the U.S. House and Senate, often taking time to discuss the main articles with the appropriate staff. They were also mailed to REP members and the media and made available for PDF download on the web.
Many of the topics that the CEP Quarterly addressed still resonate today, including repeated attempts to turn the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge over to the oil and gas industry and allow construction of the destructive Pebble Mine in one of America’s most pristine coastal areas in Alaska.
Outstanding articles from the historic C.E.P. Quarterly issues can now be accessed again in the THINGS WE FIGHT FOR section of this website, specifically the “REP’S OWN PUBLICATIONS” subsection of these pages:
Right before the general election of 2004, REP members Russell Train (DC) and Rick Russman (NH) teamed up to write and publish this powerful analysis: Bush’s sorry environmental record.
New Mexico Chapter President Ken Whiton delivered a speech called Rally for the national parks! in Albuquerque in September 2004.
In August 2005, REP’s Minnesota State Coordinator Evan Rice gave an outstanding testimonial to GOP Congessman Jim Ramstad, one of the “Green GOP” heroes whose votes would help to save the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. And a month later, Evan also called Senator Normal Coleman to honor his campaign promise in Protect the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
Dave Jenkins capped off his excellent first year with REP by authoring It takes a movement, the feature article in The Green Elephant, fall 2005.
Finally that fall, having flexed both its political muscles and its policy-oriented muscles and proved itself to be a worthy advocate and ally, REP celebrated its tenth anniversary at a well-attended three-day conference held on Chicago’s Magnificent Mile.
The distinguished Republicans who participated included keynote speaker Christine Todd Whitman, a former New Jersey governor and EPA Administrator, and Congressman Mark Kirk of Illinois, the first person REP had endorsed for Congress, five years earlier.
And that year’s “Green Elephant Award” went to REP member Carol Calabresa, a local Republican elected official whose decades-long persistent advocacy for land conservation and wildlife habitat protection had made her a legendary figure in the region. She was also a friend and former political ally of Martha’s during the ten years they served together on the Lake County Board. So, as Martha’s expression shows in the photo here, the award presentation briefly took an emotional turn.