Finally, GOP lawmakers prove conservation and conservatism go hand-in-hand

Finally, GOP lawmakers prove conservation and conservatism go hand-in-hand
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Today marks a historic day in building a new brand of the Republican Party. With the official launch of the Roosevelt Conservation Caucus (RCC), federally-elected Republicans across the country are proving that conservation and conservatism go hand-in-hand. The Roosevelt Conservation Caucus will focus on Republican-led reforms around National Parks funding, wildlife conservation, ocean preservation and private property rights. Republican leaders in the RCC herald from conservative states like Texas, South Carolina, Alaska and Montana, proving this is a topic that will be of immense importance to Republicans in moderate and deep-red areas.

Despite this major step, Republicans in the U.S. House and Senate have been quietly working on environmental reforms for the past four years. They’ve helped pass the largest public lands funding in U.S. history, major reforms around plastic pollution reduction, a variety of bills that support wind, solar, nuclear, and hydropower energy sources, and support for important technologies that improve the storage capabilities of clean energy. 

Reps. Brian MastBrian Jeffrey MastBuzz Aldrin marks launch of Apollo 11 mission to the moon Overnight Energy: Trump threatens veto on defense bill that targets 'forever chemicals' | Republicans form conservation caucus | Pressure mounts against EPA's new FOIA rule Republicans form conservation caucus to take on environment, climate change MORE (R-Fla.) and Elise StefanikElise Marie StefanikRepublican lawmakers ask Trump not to delay Pentagon cloud-computing contract Rising number of GOP lawmakers criticize Trump remarks about minority Dems Overnight Defense: Woman accusing general of sexual assault willing to testify | Joint Chiefs pick warns against early Afghan withdrawal | Tensions rise after Iran tries to block British tanker MORE (N.Y.) have been spearheading that fight and will serve as the House co-chairs of the caucus. Mast has been the main pilot on tackling the issues of algal blooms in Florida and has also co-sponsored dozens of bills around public lands, wildlife, and ocean health. In 2017, during her first term in Congress, Stefanik introduced a resolution seeking Republican reforms around climate change, where she was joined by 22 other Republicans. Additionally, she has introduced comprehensive bills to fight invasive species and forest fires. Reps. Will HurdWilliam Ballard HurdAl Green says impeachment is 'only solution' to Trump's rhetoric Trump primary challenger Bill Weld responds to rally chants: 'We are in a fight for the soul of the GOP' Democratic strategist on Trump tweets: 'He's feeding this fear and hate' MORE (R-Texas) and Fred UptonFrederick (Fred) Stephen UptonAl Green says impeachment is 'only solution' to Trump's rhetoric Trump primary challenger Bill Weld responds to rally chants: 'We are in a fight for the soul of the GOP' Democratic strategist on Trump tweets: 'He's feeding this fear and hate' MORE (R-Mich.), the two vice-chairs on the House side, have been working on important initiatives around climate change and Great Lakes restoration, respectively. 


On the Senate side, Sens. Cory GardnerCory Scott GardnerTrump angry more Republicans haven't defended his tweets: report The Hill's Morning Report - A raucous debate on race ends with Trump admonishment Republicans scramble to contain Trump fallout MORE (R-Colo.) and Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamScarborough sounds alarm on political 'ethnic cleansing' after Trump rally The Hill's Morning Report: Trump walks back from 'send her back' chants GOP rattled by Trump rally MORE (R-S.C.) have been helping lead the charge as well. Both have been outspoken supporters of our national parks, common-sense climate change reforms and bipartisan efforts on environmental issues. Sens. Steve DainesSteven (Steve) David DainesTwo GOP lawmakers back Trump's comments on Democratic lawmakers: 'I'll pay for their tickets out of this country' Former Navy officer, teacher enters race to unseat GOP senator in Montana Democratic senators want candidates to take Swalwell's hint and drop out MORE (R-Mont.) and Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiPoll: McConnell is most unpopular senator Overnight Defense: Highlights from Defense pick's confirmation hearing | Esper spars with Warren over ethics | Sidesteps questions on Mattis vs. Trump | Trump says he won't sell F-35s to Turkey Epstein charges show Congress must act to protect children from abuse MORE (R-Alaska), who will serve as the Senate vice-chairs, have been long known for their dedication to an all-of-the-above energy strategy, emissions reductions, and overwhelming support for public lands and nature. 

The caucus will first focus on issues like the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act, which puts existing funding sources into specific state wildlife agencies. Improving the Endangered Species Act — along with support for other at-risk wildlife — is also a chief focus for the caucus. On the issues of public lands, the caucus will be advocating for proper funding of our federal lands, improved management of forests and parks, as well as an increase in public-private partnerships.

Leadership from caucus members has already helped chart a new course for the GOP and allowed others to follow their lead. This movement will continue to grow and make a meaningful impact. Preserving, conserving and protecting our environment should not be partisan. The Republican Party leaders who are serving on the Roosevelt Conservation Caucus have proved that. This is more than a step in the right direction. Bipartisanship and increased involvement from conservatives on the environment is no longer the future. It’s the present.

Benji Backer is the co-founder and president of the American Conservation Coalition, a pro-business environmentalism organization that promotes free-market solutions to environmental issues and advocates for conservation and a sustainable “all of the above” energy approach. Follow the organization on Twitter @ACC_National.