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OPINION

Conservatives Must Engage on Environmental Issues--This Group Thinks They Know How

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.
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“It’s we Conservatives who are not merely friends of the Earth — we are its guardians and trustees for generations to come.”

Margaret Thatcher’s words serve as inspiration for conservatives to recognize the importance of conservation as one of our foremost responsibilities, both to ourselves and to generations to come. Environmental issues have for too long been a realm dominated by the Left, and conservatives have given up enormous ground to radical ideas that have infiltrated our college campuses and convinced students that concern for the environment requires them to identify with the Democratic Party. This is a massive missed opportunity for the Republican Party to highlight and coalesce around an important set of issues, and it’s time for that to end.

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That is why a new national organization, the American Conservation Coalition, is launching today with the goal of changing the narrative that has existed for far too long surrounding environmental issues.

As Ronald Reagan said, the environment is not a partisan issue - it's common sense. The ACC is taking this mindset to heart and working to bridge the gap separating conservatives from fighting for policies that can benefit both our environment and our society as a whole. By advocating for policies such as an all-of-the-above energy plan that allows for an equal playing field, the protection of public and private lands, and the reformation of policies like the Endangered Species Act, we hope to introduce opportunities for the free market to do what it does best: provide solutions that are free of unnecessary government involvement. As the only organization of its kind - performing grassroots activism to educate and encourage students on environmental issues - we will work to change the narrative by introducing a more open, free-market-based dialogue.

The government-first policies proposed by the far Left have failed to adequately address the pressing environmental issues we face. The 1973 Endangered Species Act, for example, originally contained 109 species. Today, that number has has risen to nearly 2,000, with only 1% of those listed since its inception having been delisted due to recovery of the species.  This is only one example of a government environmental program that failed, and it presents a rich opportunity for free market solutions to intervene in this and many other areas where the environment will benefit from the ingenuity of American entrepreneurship. It is these types of reforms that the ACC will focus on in order to protect the environment in substantial sways.

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A new wave of support for pro-environmental policies has emerged among Republican elected officials, and we hope to provide support for those individuals as they fight an uphill battle toward environmentally and economically-friendly policies. People like Utah’s Mia Love, Florida’s Carlos Curbelo, and New York’s Elise Stefanik are only three examples from an extensive list of folks who are working to change the narrative on the Right around environmental issues. Supporting these and lobbying others to join their cause is of paramount importance to making these efforts successful, as is changing the national policies of the GOP to reflect a more environmentally-conscious attitude. Groups like the Republican National Committee, the College Republican National Committee, and many others have tremendous influence, and this shift would eliminate the notion that conservatives are anti-environment - a stigma that is grossly untrue.

We are taking this message to anyone who will listen and specifically targeting the campuses where radical Leftism has dominated and conservative approaches to the environment are severely lacking. By working directly with existing student groups, we plan to educate college students about the untapped potential in a free market environmental perspective.

Being pro-environment is a conservative position, and protecting our God-given land and resources is a cause that every conservative and American can rally behind. Beginning with our launch today, the ACC will step into the arena to combat the false promises of radical environmentalism that have failed to deliver results.

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Our full policy platform is available at www.acc.eco. We hope you'll join us by participating in a dialogue that is long overdue.

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