Why REP supports the EPA

By JIM DIPESO, REP’s Policy Director

AN HISTORICAL DOCUMENT: This was written in response to a letter asking why REP strongly supported the EPA. We published both the original letter and Jim’s reply in The Green Elephant, winter 1998.

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We believe that Republicans can be both pro-environment and pro-business. We don’t believe there is a conflict between economic strength and a clean environment. In fact, we don’t think you can have one without the other.

While there is certainly room for making the Environmental Protection Agency more effective and efficient, it is our belief that the nation is a healthier, cleaner place because of the environmental laws that EPA is responsible for enforcing. When President Nixon (a Republican!) established EPA in 1970, the nation’s air and water were much dirtier than they are today, and little care was taken in handling of hazardous materials. Much has been accomplished since then, but more work remains to be done.

Protecting the environment certainly costs money, but not protecting the environment also has costs, including increased hospital admissions and lost work time. Over the years, studies have shown that initial estimates of the costs of cleaning up pollution have usually been overstated, because the estimates assume business will stand still. Instead, markets respond to regulations by innovating: finding cleaner, more efficient ways of doing business. Innovation, in turn, creates new jobs and helps our economy grow. Clean communities are more attractive to business and generally more prosperous. Studies show that the states with the strongest environmental laws also have the strongest economies. We don’t think that is coincidental.

We agree that more effective environmental protection strategies are available and should be implemented. Preventing pollution, through industrial efficiency, is cheaper than cleaning up after the fact, and it also helps business reduce costs, increase workplace safety, improve operations, and reduce liability exposure. We need strong laws that will set the standards which will induce businesses to innovate, improve their efficiency, and thereby keep our environment clean.

Republicans for Environmental Protection is working to restore the conservation legacy that President Nixon and other Republican leaders established. Ultimately, keeping our environment clean is beyond party politics.