You’re kidding: Republicans for Environmental Protection?

By JAY NEWMAN, a REP member in Michigan

AN HISTORICAL DOCUMENT: published in the Sturgis Journal on February 1, 2007.


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 Republicans for Environmental Protection and began speaking up as Republicans who care about these things and don’t want to see them cast aside (

Yes, there is such a group and I proudly admit to being one of them. I didn’t find out about this organization by accident though. I was introduced to REP by Rob Sisson, who joined REP in 1999. He eventually became Michigan’s chapter president, and now works for REP as their membership and development director.

Of course, most people know Rob as the mayor of Sturgis.

So why would somebody like Rob join this organization? He was certainly a very busy guy with his involvement in local politics, serving as a vice president at a local bank, maintaining a position on the economic development board, and chasing his two sons around the house and yard. In addition to that, he was previously selected as Michigan’s Small Business Advocate of the Year and has written one book (Financing the Small Business), with a second one about Chief White Pigeon to be published very soon.

Why Rob has gotten involved is best summed up in this own words, which can easily be found on REP’s web site:

“My personal environmentalism stems from a boyhood spent out-of-doors, my belief in stewardship of God’s creation, and my desire for my sons to grow up in a healthy environment. REP neatly ties it all together from a conservative political standpoint. Our organization provides a unified voice for the variety of Republicans who love our natural world and who believe that Conservation is Conservative.”

I’m not surprised by those words, having worked with Rob’s dad, Skip, for so many years in in the Sturgis schools. Responsible behavior is more than an ideal; it is a way of life.

So what is it that Rob and his fellow REP members want?

They want clean air and water.

They want food free from harmful chemicals, clean efficient businesses and industries, and a high quality of life in our cities and rural communities.

They want strong, results-oriented enforcement of environmental laws and economic development for communities without the ravages of sprawl.

They place a high priority on funding of natural resource stewardship and environmental protection.

They want protection for posterity of our national parks, forests, wildlife refuges, wild lands and waters.

They also want effective legal protection for threatened and endangered plants and animals in their native habitats.

So even though it may seem to some people that Republican and Conservation do not go together, I am truly happy that Rob introduced me to REP. We should all remember that it was a Republican who started the American conservation movement. It was Theodore Roosevelt who started our National Wildlife Refuges and built our National Park system.

So this week, my hat’s off to Rob Sisson, the mayor of Sturgis and membership and development director for Republicans for Environmental Protection.