REP fights for native American wildlife like the Bison or Buffalo.

NOTABLE QUOTES: REPUBLICANS ON THE RECORD

REP is rooted in the Republican Party’s lengthy record of environmental accomplishment. Abraham Lincoln protected Yosemite Valley at the height of the Civil War. Theodore Roosevelt, William H. Taft, Herbert Hoover, and Dwight Eisenhower, along with the GOP members of the Rockefeller family, were the undisputed land-conservation champions of their day.

Richard Nixon, despite his flaws, created the Environmental Protection Agency and signed many of our landmark environmental bills into law. Gerald Ford enacted the first automobile fuel economy standards. Ronald Reagan signed into law more wilderness bills than any other president, pushed through the Montreal Protocol treaty to heal the Earth’s ozone layer, and signed into law the nation’s first climate change bill. George H. W. Bush is responsible for the Clean Air Act amendments that put an end to the acid rain problem.

The panorama above shows the wide, towering canyon walls of Colorado National Monument.

Americans owe a debt of gratitude to Republican President William H. Taft, who protected this marvelous place for posterity in 1911.

President William H. Taft

The accomplishments mentioned above actually represent a small portion of the GOP’s environmental legacy. Republicans also were leaders in creating and defending over time the Antiquities Act, the Wilderness Act, the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, the National Environmental Policy Act, the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, and the Endangered Species Act.

Unfortunately, the GOP’s recent history in this regard has not been good at all. Actually, it’s been terrible. In part, this is due to the influence of special interests, personality-cult politics, too much money pouring into campaigns, and the emergence of a more radical strain of libertarianism. Each one of these influences betrays our party’s heritage and historic values.

That why we’ve compiled the quotations below. We believe it’s important to provide insights into how Republican leaders of the past balanced liberty and responsibility while fulfilling our duty to be good stewards of our environment.

If you like, you can scroll down through all of the quotations, which are generally organized in chronological order. Or you can jump to a specific individual’s statements by clicking the links here:

Theodore Roosevelt, Herbert Hoover, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Richard Nixon, Barry Goldwater, Gerald R. Ford, Ronald Reagan, John McCain, George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush, Mark Sanford, George P. Shultz

President Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919)

“Conservation is a great moral issue, for it involves the patriotic duty of insuring the safety and continuance of the nation.”
New Nationalism speech, Ossowatomie, Kansas, August 31, 1910

“Optimism is a good characteristic, but if carried to an excess, it becomes foolishness. We are prone to speak of the resources of this country as inexhaustible; this is not so.”
Seventh Annual Message to Congress, December 3, 1907

“We of an older generation can get along with what we have, though with growing hardship; but in your full manhood and womanhood you will want what nature once so bountifully supplied and man so thoughtlessly destroyed; and because of that want you will reproach us, not for what we have used, but for what we have wasted…So any nation which in its youth lives only for the day, reaps without sowing, and consumes without husbanding, must expect the penalty of the prodigal whose labor could with difficulty find him the bare means of life.”
Arbor Day – A Message to the School-Children of the United States” April 15, 1907

“There can be no greater issue than that of conservation in this country.”
Confession of Faith Speech, Progressive National Convention, Chicago, IL, August 6, 1912

“Conservation of our resources is the fundamental question before this nation, and that our first and greatest task is to set our house in order and begin to live within our means.”
January 1909, in letter transmitting report of National Conservation Commission to Congress

“Defenders of the short-sighted men who in their greed and selfishness will, if permitted, rob our country of half its charm by their reckless extermination of all useful and beautiful wild things sometimes seek to champion them by saying the ‘the game belongs to the people.’ So it does; and not merely to the people now alive, but to the unborn people. The ‘greatest good for the greatest number’ applies to the number within the womb of time, compared to which those now alive form but an insignificant fraction. Our duty to the whole, including the unborn generations, bids us restrain an unprincipled present-day minority from wasting the heritage of these unborn generations. The movement for the conservation of wild life and the larger movement for the conservation of all our natural resources are essentially democratic in spirit, purpose, and method.”
A Book-Lover’s Holidays in the Open, 1916

“The conservation of natural resources is the fundamental problem. Unless we solve that problem it will avail us little to solve all others.”
Address to the Deep Waterway Convention, Memphis, TN, October 4, 1907

“To waste, to destroy, our natural resources, to skin and exhaust the land instead of using it so as to increase its usefulness, will result in undermining in the days of our children the very prosperity which we ought by right to hand down to them.”
Seventh message to Congress, December 3, 1907

“I do not intend that our natural resources should be exploited by the few against the interests of the many”
Acceptance speech, 1912 Bull Moose convention

President Herbert Hoover (1874-1964)

“The people have a vital interest in the conservation of their natural resources; in the prevention of wasteful practices.”
Message to Congress, 1930

Recreation grounds and natural museums are as necessary to advancing our civilization as are wheat fields and factories.
Message to Congress, 1930

The human animal originally came from out-of-doors. When spring begins to move in his bones, he just must get out again. Moreover, as civilization, cement pavements, office buildings, radios have overwhelmed us, the need for regeneration has increased, and the impulses are even stronger.
“Men Are Equal Before Fish,” September 1951

President Dwight D. Eisenhower (1890-1969)

“As we peer into society’s future, we – you and I, and our government – must avoid the impulse to live only for today, plundering for our own ease and convenience the precious resources of tomorrow. We cannot mortgage the material assets of our grandchildren without risking the loss also of their political and spiritual heritage.”
Farewell Address to the Nation, January 17, 1961

President Richard Nixon (1913-1994)

“The great question of the seventies is, shall we surrender to our surroundings, or shall we make our peace with nature and begin to make reparations for the damage we have done to our air, to our land, and to our water?”
Annual Message to Congress on the State of the Union, 1970

“Restoring nature to its natural state is a cause beyond party and beyond factions. It has become a common cause of all the people of this country. It is a cause of particular concern to young Americans, because they more than we will reap the grim consequences of our failure to act on programs which are needed now if we are to prevent disaster later.”
Annual Message to Congress on the State of the Union, 1970

“Clean air, clean water, open spaces — these should once again be the birthright of every American.”
Annual Message to Congress on the State of the Union, 1970

“We still think of air as free. But clean air is not free, and neither is clean water. The price tag on pollution control is high. Through our years of past carelessness we incurred a debt to nature, and now that debt is being called.”
Annual Message to Congress on the State of the Union, 1970

“As our cities and suburbs relentlessly expand, those priceless open spaces needed for recreation areas accessible to their people are swallowed up–often forever. Unless we preserve these spaces while they are still available, we will have none to preserve.”
Annual Message to Congress on the State of the Union, 1970

“We can no longer afford to consider air and water common property, free to be abused by anyone without regard to the consequences. Instead, we should begin now to treat them as scarce resources, which we are no more free to contaminate than we are free to throw garbage into our neighbor’s yard.”
Annual Message to Congress on the State of the Union, 1970

“Nothing is more priceless and more worthy of preservation than the rich array of animal life with which our country has been blessed. It is a many-faceted treasure, of value to scholars, scientists, and nature lovers alike, and it forms a vital part of the heritage we all share as Americans.”
Statement on Signing the Endangered Species Act of 1973, December 28th, 1973

“…we must strike a balance so that the protection of our irreplaceable heritage becomes as important as its use. The price of economic growth need not and will not be deterioration in the quality of our lives and our surroundings.”
State of the Union Message on Natural Resources and the Environment, February 14th, 1973

“…because there are no local or State boundaries to the problems of our environment, the Federal Government must play an active, positive role. We can and will set standards. We can and will exercise leadership.”
State of the Union Message on Natural Resources and the Environment, February 14th, 1973

“People should not have to pay for pollution they do not cause.”
State of the Union Message on Natural Resources and the Environment, February 14th, 1973

“The destiny of our land, the air we breathe, the water we drink is not in the mystical hands of an uncontrollable agent, it is in our hands. A future which brings the balancing of our resources–preserving quality with quantity–is a future limited only by the boundaries of our will to get the job done.”
State of the Union Message on Natural Resources and the Environment, February 14th, 1973

“The 1970s must be the years when America pays its debt to the past by reclaiming the purity of its air, its waters, and our living environment. It is literally now or never.”
Statement About the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, January 1st, 1970

“Because the public lands belong to all Americans, this 1872 Mining Act should be repealed…”
State of the Union Message on Natural Resources and the Environment, February 14th, 1973

“An important measure of our true commitment to environmental quality is our dedication to protecting the wilderness and its inhabitants. We must recognize their ecological significance and preserve them as sources of inspiration and education. And we need them as places of quiet refuge and reflection.”
State of the Union Message on Natural Resources and the Environment, February 14th, 1973

“As we work to expand our supplies of energy, we should also recognize that we must balance those efforts with our concern to preserve our environment. In the past, as we have sought new energy sources, we have too often damaged or despoiled our land.”
State of the Union Message on Natural Resources and the Environment, February 14th, 1973

“The recent upsurge of public concern over environmental questions reflects a belated recognition that man has been too cavalier in his relations with nature. Unless we arrest the depredations that have been inflicted so carelessly on our natural systems–which exist in an intricate set of balances–we face the prospect of ecological disaster.”
Message to the Congress Transmitting the First Annual Report of the Council on Environmental Quality, August 10th, 1970

“‘Environment’ is not an abstract concern, or simply a matter of aesthetics, or of personal taste — although it can and should involve these as well. Man is shaped to a great extent by his surroundings. Our physical nature, our mental health, our culture and institutions, our opportunities for challenge and fulfillment, our very survival — all of these are directly related to and affected by the environment in which we live. They depend upon the continued healthy functioning of the natural systems of the Earth.”
Message to the Congress Transmitting the First Annual Report of the Council on Environmental Quality, August 10th, 1970

“The basic causes of our environmental troubles are complex and deeply embedded. They include: our past tendency to emphasize quantitative growth at the expense of qualitative growth; the failure of our economy to provide full accounting for the social costs of environmental pollution;

the failure to take environmental factors into account as a normal and necessary part of our planning and decision making; the inadequacy of our institutions for dealing with problems that cut across traditional political boundaries;

our dependence on conveniences, without regard for their impact on the environment; and more fundamentally, our failure to perceive the environment as a totality and to understand and to recognize the fundamental interdependence of all its parts, including man himself.”
Message to the Congress Transmitting the First Annual Report of the Council on Environmental Quality, August 10th, 1970

Senator & Presidential Nominee Barry Goldwater (1909-1998)

“While I am a great believer in the free enterprise system and all that it entails, I am an even stronger believer in the right our people to live in a clean and pollution-free environment.”
“The Conscience of a Majority (1970)”

“My mother took us to services at the Episcopal church. Yet she always said that God was not just inside the four walls of a house of worship, but everywhere — in the rising sun over Camelback Mountain in Phoenix, a splash of water along the nearby Salt or Verde rivers, or clouds driving over the Estrella Mountains, south of downtown. I’ve always thought of God in those terms.”
“Goldwater” (1988)

President Gerald R. Ford (1913-2006)

“We have too long treated the natural world as an adversary rather than as a life-sustaining gift from the Almighty. If man has the genius to build, which he has, he must also have the ability and the responsibility to preserve.”
Remarks at dedication of National Environmental Research Center, July 3, 1975

“I remember as a ranger the first time I stood alone on Inspiration Point over at Canyon Station looking out over this beautiful land. I thought to myself how lucky I was that my parents’ and grandparents’ generation had the vision and the determination to save it for us. Now it is our turn to make our own gift outright to those who will come after us, 15 years, 40 years, 100 years from now. I want to be as faithful to my grandchildren’s generation as Old Faithful has been to ours. What better way can we add a new dimension to our third century of freedom?”
Remarks at Yellowstone National Park, August 29, 1976

President Ronald Reagan (1911-2004)

“If we’ve learned any lessons during the past few decades, perhaps the most important is that preservation of our environment is not a partisan challenge; it’s common sense. Our physical health, our social happiness, and our economic well-being will be sustained only by all of us working in partnership as thoughtful, effective stewards of our natural resources.”
Remarks on signing annual report of Council on Environmental Quality, July 11, 1984

“A strong nation is one that is loved by its people and, as Edmund Burke put it, for a country to be loved it ought to be lovely.”
Message to Congress transmitting Council on Environmental Quality’s annual report, February 19, 1986

“The preservation of parks, wilderness, and wildlife has also aided liberty by keeping alive the 19th century sense of adventure and awe with which our forefathers greeted the American West. Many laws protecting environmental quality have promoted liberty by securing property against the destructive trespass of pollution. In our own time, the nearly universal appreciation of these preserved landscapes, restored waters, and cleaner air through outdoor recreation is a modern expression of our freedom and leisure to enjoy the wonderful life that generations past have built for us.”
Message to Congress transmitting Council on Environmental Quality’s annual report, October 3, 1988

“Generations hence, parents will take their children to these woods to show them how the land must have looked to the first Pilgrims and pioneers. And as Americans wander through these forests, climb these mountains, they will sense the love and majesty of the Creator of all of that.”
Remarks upon signing legislation designating wilderness in North Carolina, New Hampshire, Vermont and Wisconsin, June 19, 1984

“The Montreal Protocol is a model of cooperation. It is a product of the recognition and international consensus that ozone depletion is a global problem, both in terms of its causes and its effects. The protocol is the result of an extraordinary process of scientific study, negotiations among representatives of the business and environmental communities, and international diplomacy. It is a monumental achievement.”
Statement on signing the instrument of ratification of the Montreal Protocol on Ozone-Depleting Substances, April 5, 1988

“I just have to believe that with love for our natural heritage and a firm resolve to preserve it with wisdom and care, we can and will give the American land to our children, not impaired, but enhanced. And in doing this, we’ll honor the great and loving God who gave us this land in the first place.”
Remarks to National Campers and Hikers Association in Bowling Green, KY, July 12, 1984

“I believe in a sound, strong environmental policy that protects the health of our people and a wise stewardship of our nation’s natural resources.”
Radio address to nation on environmental and natural resources management, June 11, 1983

“I’m proud of having been one of the first to recognize that states and the federal government have a duty to protect our natural resources from the damaging effects of pollution that can accompany industrial development.”
Radio address to nation on environmental issues, July 14, 1984

“Those concerns of a national character–such as air and water pollution that do not respect state boundaries, or the national transportation system, or efforts to safeguard your civil liberties–must, of course, be handled on the national level.”
Address to Conservative Political Action Conference, Washington, DC, February 6, 1977

“You are worried about what man has done and is doing to this magical planet that God gave us. And I share your concern.

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.”
Remarks at dedication of National Geographic Society new headquarters building, June 19, 1984

Senator and Presidential Nominee John McCain (1936-2018)

“Some urge we do nothing because we can’t be certain how bad the (climate) problem might become or they presume the worst effects are most likely to occur in our grandchildren’s lifetime. I’m a proud conservative, and I reject that kind of live-for-today, ‘me generation,’ attitude. It is unworthy of us and incompatible with our reputation as visionaries and problem solvers. Americans have never feared change. We make change work for us.“
Address at Center for Strategic and International Studies, April 23, 2007

“For decades we have been living lives of abundance, with little regard for our natural resources or global health. But we are now facing hard choices in our energy policy. Future generations — my children and grandchildren, along with yours — will have to live with the decisions we make today. And so it is time for us to make some tough and — hopefully — smart choices regarding our energy use and production before it is too late.“
Address to Clean Cities Congress, May 8, 2006

“Our nation’s continued prosperity hinges on our ability to solve environmental problems and sustain the natural resources on which we all depend.“
Op-Ed, The New York Times, November 22, 1996

President George H. W. Bush (1924-2018)

“The issue of climate change respects no border. Its effects cannot be reined in by an army nor advanced by any ideology. Climate change, with its potential to impact every corner of the world, is an issue that must be addressed by the world.”
Remarks in advance of European Trip, 2001

“Let us create a new international clean technology fund, which will help developing nations like India and China make greater use of clean energy sources. And let us complete an international agreement that has the potential to slow, stop, and eventually reverse the growth of greenhouse gases.”
2008 State of the Union Address

“The United States is committed to strengthening our energy security and confronting global climate change. And the best way to meet these goals is for America to continue leading the way toward the development of cleaner and more energy-efficient technology.”
2008 State of the Union Address

President George W. Bush (1946-)

“The issue of climate change respects no border. Its effects cannot be reined in by an army nor advanced by any ideology. Climate change, with its potential to impact every corner of the world, is an issue that must be addressed by the world.”
Remarks in advance of European Trip, 2001

“Let us create a new international clean technology fund, which will help developing nations like India and China make greater use of clean energy sources. And let us complete an international agreement that has the potential to slow, stop, and eventually reverse the growth of greenhouse gases.”
2008 State of the Union Address

“The United States is committed to strengthening our energy security and confronting global climate change. And the best way to meet these goals is for America to continue leading the way toward the development of cleaner and more energy-efficient technology.”
2008 State of the Union Address

Former South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford (1960-)

“This is an issue where there really is consensus within the scientific community. There’s a larger debate on what to do about it, and that’s a much more complex debate, but it’s like with Alcoholics Anonymous, if you don’t even recognize the fact that you have a problem, you’re never going to address the problem.”
Interview with The Atlantic, 2017

“…it is to me illogical to say ‘I believe in the miracles of science in terms of what it can do for our bodies at hospitals like Johns Hopkins, but then say ‘I don’t believe in science when it concerns the earth.”
Interview on MSNBC, 2019

Former Secretary of State George P. Schultz (1920-)

“For the sake of our children and grandchildren, I believe it is imperative that we set forth a climate solution that embodies long-standing conservative principles.”
Climate Leadership Council Press conference, 2017

“…the globe is warming and that carbon dioxide has something to do with that fact. Those who say otherwise will wind up being mugged by reality.”
Op-Ed Washington Post, 2015

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Photo at top:  Steep canyon walls at sunset in Colorado National Monument, which was created by GOP President Robert Howard Taft using the Antiquities Act of 1906, which had been written by GOP Congressman John Lacey and signed into law by GOP President Theodore Roosevelt. (photo © Martha Marks)