DENVER, Nov. 3, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Jon Anderson, Director of The Western Way, a conservative pro-market conservation organization, released the following policy road-map that a President Trump could take to seize the opportunity to reclaim conservatives' position as pro-business conservation champions.
Conservatives have tried hard to draw favorable links between Donald Trump and their beloved Teddy Roosevelt. While the two New Yorkers share common character traits, the more relevant question is whether a President Donald Trump would make any attempt to model his initiatives after President Roosevelt's legacy achievement as a conservative conservationist. The political and policy opportunities are ripe for a President Trump to create such a resurgence.
Somewhere between the end of President Theodore Roosevelt's term in 1909 and 2016, conservatives completely yielded the conservation mantle to the Democrat Party. This has evolved into a political relevancy problem for the GOP in 2016, as millennials cite conservation and environmental policy as priority issues. Cutting through the political narrative created over a hundred years ago, the fact remains that conservatives do not care less about the environment than liberals, they just insist on using facts rather than rhetoric to define the scope of government solutions needed to address our country's most significant environment and conservation challenges.
Energy, conservation, wildlife, and water issues are all areas in which Mr. Trump, if elected president, could engage conservative leaders to find commonsense, pro-market solutions while respecting and enhancing our country's cherished national treasures and resources. In this instance, it is an advantage that Mr. Trump has maintained a clean slate in terms of defining his substantive policies on environmental, conservation, and public lands issues. Before adopting pro forma GOP policies in this space, a President Donald Trump should take a deep breath, channel Teddy Roosevelt, and see the generational opportunity to reclaim conservatives' position as pro-business conservation champions.
Here are four priority initiatives a President Trump could initiate in the first 100 days of his Administration to accomplish this political and policy coup:
- A Bold Land Conservation Initiative. The most direct path to support and strengthen President Theodore Roosevelt's historic legacy actually plays to Mr. Trump's greatest strengths. President Trump can think big, act boldly, and make historic investments in the finest real estate in the United States. In the first month, President Trump should outline a bold initiative to create new national monuments through the U.S. Antiquities Act. Across the country you will find national land treasures befitting this designation. Even within the U.S.'s ownership portfolio, you will find over 2 million acres of public land in designation limbo (and largely off limits to public uses). This would be a Trump move: bold, popular, outside the partisan box. Politically, it would be brilliant- erasing millennials' biggest concern that the GOP is "anti-conservation" and "anti-environment" and instead creating a positive movement for millennials to become proud conservatives.
- A Pro-Market All-Of-The-Above Energy Policy: The U.S. is blessed with an abundance of fossil fuel and new energy resources. A President Trump should make clear that a true pro-market energy policy maximizes each resource. Look at Colorado as a state that tapped into its full resource potential and has become an international energy innovation leader. Fracking innovations have catapulted the state into its place as leader of domestic oil production- creating 213,000 jobs dedicated to just one energy-drilling process. At the same time, 438 solar companies now operate in Colorado, making solar the second fastest-growing industry in Colorado and the wind energy industry is adding thousands of jobs throughout the state with wind turbine plants and new wind farms. Across the country, the U.S. has enormous traditional and alternative energy resources and an aggressive push by President Trump to maximize utilization in each sector will deliver a sustainable U.S. energy policy that serves as a model for the rest of the world.
- A Permanent Conservation Funding Solution: Since 1965, the Land & Water Conservation Fund ("LWCF") has provided the financial support to create and maintain the United States public lands program. Using no public funds, LWCF is funded by a portion of royalties energy companies pay the government for extracting publicly-owned offshore oil and gas. It is a common-sense program that reinvests public revenues generated from resource development into resource redevelopment. The bi-partisan program has been a complete success- protecting more than 5 million acres of land and supporting more than 41,000 public lands projects in all 50 states. However, political gridlock and a lack of fiscal discipline threatens the program virtually every year. Congress has failed to make the funding authorization permanent and each year more LWCF funds are wastefully diverted to unrelated government programs. There is now significant bi-partisan support in both the House and Senate to permanently authorize the LWCF. A President Trump should recognize this as low-hanging fruit to deliver a common-sense solution to one of the most popular federal programs in the U.S.
- Listen to Your Son: Donald Trump Jr. models the next generation's conservation conservative. As a sportsman, he respects our country's public resources and acts as a responsible steward of the land. Donald Trump Jr. has called for smarter management of existing federal lands and increased access to public lands. At the same time, Donald Trump Jr. has correctly highlighted the myriad of fiscal and public access problems with recent calls to transfer federal land to the states. A President Trump would be wise to respect the vision and concerns of our country's next conservation leaders like his son and the millions of sportsmen and sportswomen across the country. The U.S. public land management program needs an injection of management efficiency and Mr. Trump may be just the leader who would demand such improvements.
Whether you support or oppose Donald Trump, you cannot discount his innate ability to think big and act boldly. It may be that conservatives require this type of brash leadership to shed the false "anti-environment" label that progressive liberals have so effectively branded on conservatives. Conservatives are not anti-conservation or anti-environment. Conservatives are proud stewards of the land who demand efficient solutions to honest problems.
A President Trump, relying on business acumen, would see that the GOP has no opportunities for net gains if its environmental platform rests solely on opposing terrible initiatives created by extreme environmental groups. Instead, a President Trump might just see the enormous political and policy value in reclaiming ownership of President Theodore Roosevelt's legacy by leading common-sense solutions that improve U.S. conservation efforts and enhance the U.S. economy.
The Western Way (www.TheWesternWay.org) is a nonprofit organization promoting pro-market solutions to actual conservation and environmental challenges facing the United States.
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SOURCE The Western Way