Opinion

These GOP Reps are Taking the Lead on Environmental Issues

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Posted: Aug 28, 2018 12:01 AM
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These GOP Reps are Taking the Lead on Environmental Issues

Now more than ever, it’s imperative that Republicans take the lead on environmental issues. The opportunity is clear, with the GOP enjoying control of Congress and the presidency – an accomplishment quite impressive given the polarized state of American politics. To maintain this conservative majority and survive what will be a difficult fight in the midterms, however, Republicans must broaden their appeal by discussing issues that fall outside of the party’s traditional platform.  

Fortunately, a number of congressional Republicans are devoting significant attention to environmental issues. An endorsement list compiled by the American Conservation Coalition showcases these efforts and highlights a range of vocal, yet underappreciated, conservative environmental champions.

The endorsement list effectively shines light on Republican legislators like Reps. Carlos Curbelo, Lee Zeldin, and Adam Kinzinger, that often receive little recognition for their commitment to addressing environmental and energy concerns.

In today’s polarizing political atmosphere, it’s crucial that we uplift and publicize the actions of these pro-environment, Republican legislators. Recognizing these individuals will help to dispel the notion that Republicans are anti-environment and more importantly encourage conservatives to engage in these policy conversations. 

Bringing conservatives into environmental conversations will end the liberal monopoly on these issues and allow for more robust and less one-sided debates. Republicans now have the chance to offer sensible, limited government alternatives to the typical overreaching policies proposed by Democrats. Luckily, a number of Republicans have seized on this opportunity and taken initiative to lead on an array of environmental issues. 

Carlos Curbelo is a co-founder of the bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus and has been a strong proponent of addressing sea level rise. Lee Zeldin has been leading efforts to protect the Land and Water Conservation Fund, a program that plays an integral role in maintaining public lands and promoting recreation. Adam Kinzinger has used his seat on the Energy and Commerce Committee to advocate for an all-of-the-above energy approach that protects the environment and promotes economic growth.  

Increased attention to this policy area is likely in response to growing support for the environment and clean energy among GOP identifiers. Polling consistently suggests that Republicans, especially young ones, are placing more emphasis on these issues, and legislators are rightfully taking notice.

This is not to suggest that all Republicans are adequately addressing environmental issues. In fact, a lot of work still needs to be done to engage those conservatives that express unwarranted hostility towards the environment and clean energy. But suggesting that the Republican Party as a whole is anti-environment, a narrative often pushed by the far left, is utterly outlandish.

Radical, far left environmental groups like the League of Conservation Voters and Sierra Club, work tirelessly to paint conservatives as anti-environment, anti-climate change, and even anti-clean water. In evaluating elected officials, these groups place weight on matters completely unrelated to environmental issues, such as immigration and abortion, to deflate conservatives’ scores. These organizations function more like political arms of the Democratic Party than promoters of environmental quality.

Fortunately, claims made by the League of Conservation Voters and others are disproven by the existence of groups like the American Conservation Coalition and the actions of a number of congressional Republicans. The culture within the conservative movement is clearly changing, and hopefully in time even more Republicans will recognize the advantages that come with offering solutions to environmental and energy issues. This realization will ensure continued success for the Republican Party and will allow it to deliver results to the American people in yet another policy area.