With the Republican Part at a crossroads, The Green Conservative that's Jim DiPeso, policy director for Republicans for Environmental Protection schools his party in the issues it should be championing to stay relevant.
House Republicans are not acquitting themselves well in the battle over climate legislation. Most are playing political games rather than offering constructive ideas for improving the legislation.
But the climate issue will not go away. The science is solid and the business community is jumping on board the legislation bandwagon. As the late William F. Buckley once noted, Conservatism implies a certain submission to reality.
Putting a price on carbon emissions must be the centerpiece of a national climate policy. Republicans interested in working seriously on the issue could start by checking out Congressman Bob Inglis proposal to levy a carbon tax and return the proceeds to citizens as payroll tax reductions.
Republicans still not sure about climate change must care about the strategic liabilities of oil dependence and its dangerous implications for national security.
Republicans often describe their energy security plan as all of the above. A real all of the above energy plan would start with fuel efficiency, since, Dick Cheneys dismissive attitudes about conservation notwithstanding, no true conservative tolerates waste.
The next step is to push policies that will accelerate use of fuel and drive train technologies, including electric cars, that will get America off the oil dependence treadmill once and for all.
Electrifying transportation is critical for energy security. But it wouldnt do to burn more coal in conventional power plants in order to supply electricity for EVs. Aggressive diversification of power generation into low-carbon technologies would reduce emissions, make the electric power system more robust, and offer consumers more freedom of choice.
Republicans should get behind a diversification strategy that includes adopting portfolio standards for renewables, figuring out the spent fuel conundrum for nukes, and cracking the carbon sequestration nut.
Few environmental laws have a stronger Republican pedigree than the Clean Air Act (it's one of the GOP's greatest environmental legacies). Proposed by President Richard Nixon, muscled towards passage by Senator Howard Baker (R-TN), put into effect by William Ruckelshaus EPA, and strengthened by President George H.W. Bush, the law has swept lead from the air, cut urban smog, and reduced acid rain.
Republicans should take charge of the unfinished business of reducing air pollution. Mercury, for example, is a neurotoxin that harms children, including babes in the womb. Rep. John McHughs (R-NY) bill to reduce power plant mercury emissions 90 percent by 2013 would be a good place to start.
Even Supreme Court justices screw up once in awhile. Three years ago, the court handed down an unfocused decision that could leave seasonal streams and more than three-fourths of the nations wetlands unprotected by the Clean Water Act.
Talk about activist judges. The ruling undermined a long-settled interpretation that the Clean Water Act is broad in scope, which was the intent of Senator Howard Baker (R-TN) and other lawmakers who got the legislation passed decades ago.
Republicans should be part of the effort to clean up after the court by backing the Clean Water Restoration Act, which would reaffirm the Clean Water Acts original intent and clarify that wetlands and seasonal streams enjoy full protection as waters of the United States.
Few environmental insults contradict traditional conservative values more than mountaintop removal coal mining. In addition to obliterating streams and contaminating fisheries, mountaintop removal is wrecking old ways of life in the Appalachians.
Blasting damages private property, shatters family tranquility, and blows up forests that have shaped community life for generations.
Republicans who tend to automatically side with whatever industry wants ought to think more deeply about what conservatism really means. And then join Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and get behind legislation to put an end to the odious destruction of Americas oldest mountains.
One of many great ideas that emerged out of the mid-20th centurys environmental legislation ferment was the Land and Water Conservation Fund. It emerged from a bipartisan consensus of President Dwight Eisenhower and other leaders that a growing nation needs more outdoor recreation opportunities to ensure individual and national vitality.
Since its authorization in 1964, the fund has been used to purchase millions of acres of land and develop some 40,000 recreational facilities. Since 1996, however, Congress has kept the funds federal and state assistance components on short rations.
What was urgent in Eisenhowers time is more urgent today. Republicans should lead the charge to fully fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund and give to future generations what our forebears gave to us.
Republicans were the original conservationists. The conservation movement that Theodore Roosevelt and other GOP worthies started in the 19th century reached fruition in 1964 with one of the most visionary stewardship laws in history the Wilderness Act.
Co-author John Saylor, a conservative Republican congressman from western Pennsylvania, fought for wilderness protection because he said it showed reverence for creation and love of country.
In recent years, however, too many Republicans have lost touch with Saylors values and denigrated wilderness as an elitist conspiracy.
Republicans should throw away all their angry anti-wilderness rhetoric, rediscover John Saylors wisdom, and become wilderness champions again.
Republicans can take a substantial share of the credit for building up Americas great public lands systems.
Conservatives ought to conserve. Republicans looking for ways to return to popularity could do worse than championing a renewed commitment to good stewardship of our public lands. Good ways to start would be supporting adequate budgets for national parks, wildlife refuges, and the National Landscape Conservation System, as well as assuring that fire doesnt consume the budget for national forests.
Oceans are the last frontier for conservation. Weve taken early steps to protect our blue water heritage, starting with designation of national marine sanctuaries authorized by legislation that Richard Nixon signed in 1972. George W. Bush showed a soft spot for the seas through his expansive use of the Antiquities Act to protect nearly 215 million acres of territorial marine waters featuring coral reefs and other spectacular treasures.
The next step is for Republicans to get behind ratifying the Law of the Sea, a piece of unfinished business that enjoys extraordinarily broad support, from Environment America on the left to Sarah Palin on the right. Other needed actions include improving fisheries management and expanding marine protected areas.
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