Republicans for Environmental Protection may sound like one of those fake advocacy groups that corporations invent for lobbying purposes, but it’s an actual organization that truly is dedicated to protecting the environment. David Jenkins, REP’s vice president for government and political affairs, tells Sierra magazine in its Nov.-Dec. issue that the group’s motto is “Conservation is conservative,” and that it’s gotten a better reception from party members than he might expect:
“Last year was the first time we had a booth at the Republican National Convention. And you know, delegates there are the dedicated core. I was expecting to have to defend my position, but I was absolutely stunned. Constantly I heard, ‘Oh, I’m so glad you’re here. The party needs to do better on the environment.’”
Jenkins says that a climate bill with “with strong, constructive input from Republicans will be stronger than one Democrats would draft on their own” and suggests the GOP could “score some political points” by standing up against mountaintop removal coal mining, which “offends everybody’s environmental sensibilities.”
REP's staff and members write opinion pieces, grant interviews, and bend legislators' ears. Its website also hosts columns by policy director Jim DiPeso, who blogs as The Green Conservative at The Daily Green. DiPeso recently celebrated the nation's wild grasslands as worthy of wilderness protection and prodded the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in an open letter to get on board with climate change legislation.
REP still has its work cut out: Project Vote Smart notes that only 15 Republican members of the House of Representatives have expressly endorsed the group, and only one senator has done so: Susan Collins of Maine. Meanwhile, Sen. James Inhofe, the Oklahoma Republican, is still huffing, puffing, and embarrassing his colleagues with his delusional climate-change denialism.
Sierra suggests such politicians are out of step the with party rank and file: Although 45 percent of Republican voters polled by Zogby had a favorable view of the American Clean Energy and Security Act, which the House passed in June, only 8 of 178 House Republicans, or 4 percent, voted for it.
That’s barely half the number of the GOP House members who endorsed REP—which makes me wonder just how deep those “conservative” values run.