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 MastA new way to address veteran and military suicides VA might not be able to end veteran homelessness, but we shouldn't stop trying GOP lawmaker mistakenly wishes Navy happy birthday with photo of Russian ship MORE (R-Fla.) and Elise StefanikElise Marie StefanikFive takeaways from ex-ambassador's dramatic testimony Trump defends Yovanovitch attack: 'I have freedom of speech' Live coverage: Ex-Ukraine ambassador testifies in public impeachment hearing 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 HurdThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Democrats open televised impeachment hearings Here are the key players to watch at impeachment hearing Hillicon Valley: Schumer questions Army over use of TikTok | Federal court rules against random searches of travelers' phones | Groups push for election security funds in stopgap bill | Facebook's new payment feature | Disney+ launch hit by glitches MORE (R-Texas) and Fred UptonFrederick (Fred) Stephen UptonShimkus says he's reconsidering retirement Shimkus says he's been asked to reconsider retirement Trump urges GOP to fight for him 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 GardnerTariffs threaten 1.5M jobs: Study This week: House kicks off public phase of impeachment inquiry Progressive veterans group launches campaign labeling Trump as a 'national security threat' MORE (R-Colo.) and Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamGOP eager for report on alleged FBI surveillance abuse Johnson opens door to subpoenaing whistleblower, Schiff, Bidens Overnight Defense: Erdoğan gets earful from GOP senators | Amazon to challenge Pentagon cloud contract decision in court | Lawmakers under pressure to pass benefits fix for military families 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 DainesPerry replacement moves closer to confirmation despite questions on Ukraine Fallout from Kavanaugh confirmation felt in Washington one year later Conservatives offer stark warning to Trump, GOP on background checks MORE (R-Mont.) and Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiHillicon Valley: Federal inquiry opened into Google health data deal | Facebook reports millions of post takedowns | Microsoft shakes up privacy debate | Disney plus tops 10M sign-ups in first day Senators press FDA tobacco chief on status of vaping ban Federal inquiry opened into Google health data deal 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.