The left’s monopoly on the environment has caused conservatives to be stereotyped as climate change deniers and unaware of environmental issues. It is well overdue that conservatives reclaim what it means to be an environmentalist. In order to do so, conservatives must take the initiative to not only care about the environment, but actively work on initiatives that protect our earth for the generations to come after us.
The environment is a subject the left has been passionate about for quite some time and as a result, democratic legislators have enacted big government policies that aimed to “protect the environment” but in reality inflicted more damage on the economy.
Most recently, the Trump administration made the decision to reverse Obama’s Water of the United States rule. This big government policy gave the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) more power to regulate both public and private lands and mark them “navigable waters” — even small farm streams. From these regulations, farmers would be subject to costly and difficult to obtain Clean Water Act permits. Regulations such as the Water of the United States rule mean less money for innovation by those who actively work with the environment every day. Instead of continuing to let big government environmental regulations pass, it is up to conservatives to advocate for free market solutions.
The problems surrounding the environment are not going to go away and neither are harmful leftist solutions. To counter this, it is imperative that fiscal conservatives show the benefits to turning to the free market, not big government, when protecting the environment. Perhaps one of the most obvious advantages is the freedom that companies and small businesses have without big government regulations. Less hoops to jump through means an environmentally friendly business in the private sector can save both time and money while being more efficient, overall.
Because of the left’s recent dominance of environmental issues, it can be easy to forget conservatives past history of environmental advocacy. Conservationist President Theodore Roosevelt can be looked to when reflecting on Republicans past environmental efforts. During Roosevelt’s term, six new national parks were established. Roosevelt served as president during a time where people thought of our resources as unlimited. Despite this, the 26th president knew better. Roosevelt’s conservationist attitude can be summed up in his following words, “we have fallen heirs to the most glorious heritage a people ever received, and each one must do his part if we wish to show that the nation is worthy of its good fortune”.
The right may have individuals we can point to who previously advocated for the environment, but it is equally important we recognize the people and organizations who are currently offering free market alternatives to environmental protection. Doing so proves that despite what the left says, conservatism and conservation are still working hand in hand. Most known for doing so is the Property and Environmental Research Center (PERC.) The group is “dedicated to improving environmental quality through property rights and markets.” By means of research, advocacy, education, and entrepreneurship, the PERC is at the forefront of free market environmentalism.
Though free market environmentalism is being represented, it is vital that conservative conservationists have a millennial voice. Thanks to the launch of the American Conservation Coalition (ACC,) that is now possible.
Millennials are the future of our nation. They are the largest generation and will inherit a wealth of problems from those before them. Because of this, it is crucial that millennials are willing to take on the hard issues, such as environmental concerns. This idea is something the American Conservation Coalition understands quite well.
Having launched this summer, the ACC is a group by millennials, for millennials. Their mission is one that stands for a commitment to “stewardship, environmentalism, and free market ideals.” Moving forward, ACC plans to educate college students on the need for free market environmentalism, as well as working with local communities and legislators. The four goals that motivate the ACC are simple. They include engaging conservatives in the climate change talk, showing support to legislators who are strong on free market environmentalism, giving a voice to free market environmentalists on campus, and the overall advocation of free market solutions to climate change.
Millennials are easily influential and are the future of our nation. It is crucial that we can entrust the protection of the environment with this generation. In addition, we as a country must be willing to let the largest generation tackle environmental concerns head on. With a group like the American Conservation Coalition, free market environmentalists can find a new home.