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 MastThe 9 House Republicans who support background checks Two cats visit Capitol Hill to thank lawmakers who helped end 'kitten slaughterhouse' Buzz Aldrin marks launch of Apollo 11 mission to the moon MORE (R-Fla.) and Elise StefanikElise Marie StefanikBarbra Streisand calls for end to 'antiquated' Electoral College Republican lawmakers ask Trump not to delay Pentagon cloud-computing contract Rising number of GOP lawmakers criticize Trump remarks about minority Dems 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 HurdGOP struggles with retirement wave Here are the lawmakers who aren't seeking reelection in 2020 Pelosi: GOP retirements indicate they'll be in the minority, with Democrat in the White House MORE (R-Texas) and Fred UptonFrederick (Fred) Stephen UptonRepublicans pour cold water on Trump's term limit idea The Hill's Morning Report - Can Trump save GOP in North Carolina special election? Wave of GOP retirements threatens 2020 comeback 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. 

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On the Senate side, Sens. Cory GardnerCory Scott Gardner The 13 Republicans needed to pass gun-control legislation Bolton returns to political group after exiting administration The Hill's Morning Report — Trump's hurricane forecast controversy won't go away MORE (R-Colo.) and Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamGOP signals unease with Barr's gun plan Overnight Defense: Trump says he has 'many options' on Iran | Hostage negotiator chosen for national security adviser | Senate Dems block funding bill | Documents show Pentagon spent at least 4K at Trump's Scotland resort GOP's Kennedy sends warning shot to Trump nominee Menashi 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 DainesConservatives offer stark warning to Trump, GOP on background checks The 23 Republicans who opposed Trump-backed budget deal 5 takeaways from combative Democratic debate MORE (R-Mont.) and Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiSinema touts bipartisan record as Arizona Democrats plan censure vote Kavanaugh impeachment push hits Capitol buzz saw McConnell lashes out at Democrats over 'unhinged' criticism of Kavanaugh 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.