From The Trinidad Times (Jim Dipeso):
Imagine a Republican leader who racked up the following achievements: He fought smog by regulating vehicle emissions, kept dams from choking free-flowing rivers, set aside big chunks of wild backcountry for permanent protection, and supported a strong treaty to prevent harmful gases from mucking up the atmosphere.
Democratic operatives might just invite this candidate to switch parties, though GOP partisans might brand him a RINO, short for “Republican In Name Only.”
Such a leader existed, and his name was Ronald Reagan. The Gipper knew better than to pigeonhole the environment as a partisan issue. He may have said some dumb things about trees, but he also said, “If we’ve learned any lessons during the past few decades, perhaps the most important is that preservation of our environment is not a partisan challenge; it’s common sense.”
Conservation issues historically have been bipartisan. There is no reason to accept nonsensical assertions from elected officials that environmental stewardship is for liberals but not for conservatives. Is this a naïve wish? Despite what you might hear from talk radio hucksters or politicians trafficking in divisive rhetoric, there is broader agreement on the importance of conservation than seems apparent on the surface.
Last year, Colorado College’s bipartisan State of the Rockies poll found broad evidence in six Western states that voters, by large majorities, value public lands for their contribution to quality of life, support clean air regulations, and believe renewable energy development should have high priority.
Western voters by and large believe a strong economy and strong environmental protections can co-exist, rendering conservation neither red nor blue. That is precisely the basis for the partnership struck up between the National Audubon Society and the Republican organization, ConservAmerica. It’s called the American Eagle Compact, and it sends political leaders a simple message: All of us have a stake in good stewardship of the air, water, land, wildlife and climate; conservation ought to be a national priority that transcends partisan boundary lines.
More conservation coverage here.