The Republican Party considers conservation to be a conservative value – as long as it is properly balanced with economics. They consider human health and safety to be the first and most important issue in environmental concerns, as humans are our country’s most valuable resource. Any policy that supports conservation must equally address economic growth and development, as well as private property rights, in order for it to be practical. The party also supports public access to public lands for hunting, fishing, and recreational shooting. Republicans believe in environmental policies that are tailored to the needs of the localities that they regulate, and that focus on achieving results processes. To this end, they support legislation that would require congressional approval before the implementation of any plan that would cost over $100 million to consumers to put into effect. They also support developing the technology to meet our environmental needs by providing market-based incentives to advance said technology.
- Private Property
- Market Based Solutions
- The EPA
- Renewable Energy
- Energy Independence
- Democrats vs Republican on the Environment
- John McCain on the Environment
- Mitt Romney on the Environment
- Citation & Sharing
Republicans believe that environmental causes have been advanced best on private lands, and therefore consider the security of private property to be essential to any environmental agenda. Most environmental degradation has happened under government control. Republicans safeguard private property rights by supporting the enforcement of the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment, which guarantees a private property owner compensation for any pubic use of their land that is justified by eminent domain. They also believe that the large government land holdings in the west may be better used for ranching, mining, or forestry through private ownership. Republicans would also like to see all lands managed by the U.S. Forest Service available for harvesting, as timber is both a renewable resource and a source that can provide America with jobs.
Since it is the belief of the Republican Party that environmental protection must advance hand in hand with economic prosperity, republicans believe in using market based solutions to protect the environment. They believe in implementing environmental regulations that have a basis in science. They also support a government whose role in environmental protection is to provide market-based incentives to develop technologies that can meet environmental standards. They support financial incentive for companies that work towards and/or use cleaner fuel sources.
The truth in this comes out in a scenario with America’s “green jobs.” Fisker Automotive received a $529 million dollar loan from the Department of Energy, which was praised by Obama as an “opportunity to ensure that fuel-efficient cars are made in America.” Of the jobs this loan created, 100 of them are located in Delaware, while 500 are located in Finland. Fisker’s decision to manufacture in Finland rather than the United States makes it clear that the U.S. economy is struggling, partly due to a lack of competitiveness. The solution here, Republicans say, is to first make America a better place to manufacture than foreign countries. Then, develop green jobs. Through this method, we will be creating American green jobs, and fostering growth in both the economy and the environment.
Republicans support the Clear Skies proposal, made by President Bush, to reduce emissions from power plants. This proposal will reduce emissions of sulfur dioxide, nitric oxides, and mercury by 70 percent through a cap-and-trade system. This same system will require states to meet new and stricter standards, for the sake of public health. The proposal also enables power plants to install state of the art pollution control systems, which provides regulatory certainty.
The EPA has put into effect large regulations that will cost businesses and consumers tens of billions of dollars in the last few years. The Republican Party believes that these regulations are creating regulatory uncertainty, preventing new projects from moving forward, discouraging investment, and preventing job creation. Republicans want to see an end to the EPA participating in “sue and settle” suits, which end up expanding the Agency’s regulatory activities against the wishes of Congress and the people. They believe litigation under that nation’s environmental laws should be entirely transparent, and would also like to see full transparency in all EPA regulations, and their impact on jobs and the economy. This includes advance notice to any state or local governments, as well as tribes, businesses, landowners, and the public, who could be adversely affected by new regulations. Legislation that would ensure a cumulative analysis of EPA regulations is fully supported by republicans. Republicans are against the EPA’s revoking of current permits, and wish to see new greenhouse gas regulations by the EPA stopped by congress, because they would only harm the economy and threaten jobs.
Republicans support the development of renewable energy sources, but not if taxpayers have to pay for it. Market-based development of renewable energy, such as partnerships between traditional energy industries and renewable energy industries, can allow a more aggressive development of alternative energy sources such as wind, hydro, solar, biomass, geothermal, and tidal energy, without hindering the economy. While Republicans thoroughly support the development of these energy sources, they do not support their development at the expense of the country’s economy. The Party believes that the current administration should not have limited hydraulic fracturing, but supported its development as an energy industry.
The Republican Party believes that America needs to develop energy independence. Using America’s natural resources will create jobs, and get us out from under the thumbs of large oil nations. In light of this goal, Republicans support the exploitation of domestic oil sources such as the Outer Continental Shelf and Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and support the approval of continuing the Keystone Pipeline project. Many criticize Republicans for these efforts, stating that the party is against the environment, and is ignoring the need for alternative energy sources. However, Republicans look at it as an economical issue as well as an environmental one. If we develop our country’s own resources, we will be sparking economic growth, which will give the country the financial resources it needs to work towards renewable energy sources.
As stated above, Republicans, especially currently, are gaining a bad name for their efforts to develop domestic oil resources. Democrats state that Republicans are turning a blind eye to climate change, and are against renewable energy sources. However, Republicans simply seek a balancing of priorities. While Democrats would have the country pursue cleaner energy sources before developing the Outer Continental Shelf and Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, or continue with the Keystone Pipeline, the money to pay for these renewable energy products would then come from taxpayer’s pockets. In our current economic state, this type of development is not sustainable, according to Republicans. Projects such as domestic oil development will create jobs for Americans, which will then further stimulate the economy. Energy independence would temporarily put environmental agendas on the sideline. However, in the long run, it would foster economic growth, which then can go hand in hand with these environmental agendas.
Democrats are especially critical of the current sway in environmental priorities on the part of republicans. The 2008 Republican Party platform called for a good deal of environmental reform, supporting clean energy and reduced emissions. The 2012 Republican Party platform called for energy independence and a reform of the EPA. Democrats, and a good deal of the general public, seem to see this as republicans abandoning environmental concerns. While many say that climate change and a clean environment have disappeared from the party’s agenda, it is more the case that the party has simply moved these issues to a lower priority level, in wake of economic issues. Republicans do not see their efforts to pursue the use of oil temporarily as environmentally harmful, but rather as demanding a balance between the sustainability of the environment and the sustainability of the economy. In the last election, Mitt Romney stated, “President Obama promised to slow the rise of the oceans and to heal the planet. My promise is to help you and your family.” This sums up where Republicans are coming from. The economy needs help, first and foremost. Once that has been healed, the country can and should focus more on environmental issues. But without the money, how can we develop new energy techniques?
However, this logic does not seem to be doing it for voters. Republican support on the environmental front is quite low. Many state that if Republicans would compromise on this issue, it could bring a new wave of support their way. Recent polls showed that the general public is worried about clean air and clean water, regardless of their political affiliation. It is believed that even a more moderate approach than that which is currently taken by the party could bring back women and Latino voters, both groups that have expressed a particular concern for environmental issues. Public opinion seems to be that a platform that visibly supports cleaner energy could make or break the 2016 election for Republicans.
John McCain’s opinions side more with the Republican Party Platform of 2008. He is in support of cap-and-trade programs, as President Bush was, which is a cause that the party seems to no longer stand behind, at least not as a forefront issue. McCain thoroughly believes in climate change; again, a belief that seems to be changing. McCain says “No longer do we need to rely on guesswork and computer modeling because satellite images reveal a dramatic disappearance of glaciers, Antarctic ice shelves, and polar ice sheets.” McCain does stand with the current Republican Party on the issue of domestic oil development. In response to criticism that oil spills are a risk to the environment, McCain stated “It’s safe enough these days that not even Hurricanes Katrina and Rita could cause significant spillage from the battered rigs.” Unlike many of his Republican counterparts, McCain would bar drilling in environmentally sensitive areas as a contingent to lifting the ban on offshore drilling. He also supports the Republican agenda of energy independence, and therefore promotes an expansion of nuclear energy as a resource. McCain, however, believes that “Innovation in the use of alternative fuels in transportation presents the greatest opportunity for energy independence,” meaning that we should focus on developing these fuels as a means to energy independence, not in the aftermath of gaining energy independence.
It is the discrepancies between the above environmental agenda and the one below that concerns Democrats and the general public. While both McCain and Romney stand by the same overarching principles, they have been reprioritized, and reflect the Party’s stance on environmental issues in the time that each was a presidential candidate. It seems that the public would like to see a return to McCain-era beliefs, rather than a continuation of Romney’s beliefs.
Mitt Romney supports the Republican Party’s belief that a market-based approach to environmental protection is what is best for the country. Rather than creating mandates, he believes the government should focus on enhancing alternative energy sources, and developing more efficient energy usage. He supports the development of the Outer Continental Shelf and Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, but believes these efforts will require some development in energy efficiency and conservation. Romney believes in America investing in research and innovation, to help with forward progress in the areas of efficient energy and clean technology. Romney is against the Kyoto Protocol, as it will cost the country jobs.
Romney does support some immediate environmental efforts. Romney stated that he would like to “modernize the federal laws and regulations governing water use to enable smarter, more collaborative, more flexible, and more cost-effective approaches that welcome state and local participation. A combination of incentives & market-based programs will improve the water quality of our lakes, rivers, streams and coastal environments.” While there are laws in place to do this, they are outdated (have not seen updates in over 20 years), and could use serious work.
He also supports fostering the economy before he fosters environmental agendas. Romney stated, in regards to Fisker deporting green jobs, that “we need a strategy to create an environment that is good for jobs. My plan for jobs and economic growth does just that, with the goal of ensuring that no advanced manufacturer ever sees Finland as a better place than the United States to set up shop.” He also believes in the right of states to make their own individual standards for emissions, saying that “I side with states being able to make their own decisions, even if I don’t always agree with the decisions they make.”
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