George Gibbs Center for Economic Prosperity

Wh⁠i⁠⁠t⁠e House Even⁠t⁠ Shows Conserva⁠t⁠⁠i⁠ve Values Bes⁠t⁠ for ⁠t⁠he Env⁠i⁠ronmen⁠t⁠

By: Dr. J. Robert McClure / 2019

Often, conservatives are unfairly criticized for not putting “sufficient” emphasis on expressed plans for environmental preservation.

It is a widely held (but inaccurate) belief that conservative policy puts profit motives above the stewardship of our environment. And while it may help to rile up the liberal base, the reality on the ground couldn’t be further from this perception.

As the late Democrat Senator from New York Daniel Patrick Moynihan was fond of saying, “you’re entitled to your own opinion, but not your own facts.”

This couldn’t be clearer with respect to the results of conservative policies on the environment. Environmental stewardship, economic growth, and property rights go hand and hand, and in fact provide the best road to preserve the vast, diverse beauty of this great nation.

This past week I had the privilege of attending a White House event discussing the principles and accomplishments of President Trump’s environmental agenda.

As I sat watching our president and several cabinet members discussing not only their commitment to environmental conservation but also the concrete successes of policy, it became even more apparent that environmental preservation and economic prosperity are inextricably linked. When it comes to clean air and clean water, conservative principles and commitments win the day.

Consider the U.S. is a global leader in clean air progress, including for traditional “criteria” pollutants like particulate matter or ground-level ozone.

From 1970 to 2018, the combined emissions of the six criteria pollutants dropped by 74 percent as the U.S. economy grew by a stunning 275 percent. We grew in population, drove more, used more energy, and reduced our pollution.

That is a major contrast to the rest of the industrialized world. In fact, the U.S. reduction in emissions has surpassed those of every nation who signed the Paris Climate Accord.

There is certainly more to do. The key to success, however, is recognizing that innovation and entrepreneurialism solves more problems by breakfast before bloated federal bureaucracy has even gotten out of bed.

Consider my home state of Florida — decades of broken promises from both Republicans and Democrats in Washington have led to a critical challenge facing the residents of South Florida. Lake Okeechobee, battered by infusions from septic systems, population, and nutrient growth have turned the Lake into a petri dish of toxic blue-green algae. The Herbert Hoover Dike, managed and controlled by the feds, has reached such a state of disrepair that the Army Corp of Engineers is forced to discharge water — toxic algae ridden water — from the Lake into the Everglades and the rivers that feed South Florida. The results of big government neglect have been felt by Floridians and businesses for the past several years.

This is just one example of many from around the country — brownfield cleanups, superfund site neglect, wildfires caused by Bureau of Land Management incompetence, rivers turned yellow from EPA accidental discharges. All of these represent the inability of a bloated bureaucracy to address challenges that innovation and private enterprise are far more equipped to solve.

This is why President Trump’s agenda is so necessary and is so pivotal right now.

His approach is two-fold — hold the federal government to its existing promises while empowering free enterprise to work with states and localities to create a much more successful landscape for the future. And what will this approach yield? It will ensure that environmental stewardship is advanced alongside of economic growth — the two are not mutually exclusive (despite what the Left would tell you).

Radical environmentalists are quite eloquent in expressing the importance of environmental stewardship without any level of understanding how to achieve results. In fact, the most fringe elements of the “green” movement would admit that their goal is to abolish economic growth and human advancement altogether — the environment is their religion and mankind is the antithesis. Two of their signature initiatives over the past 5-10 years illustrate this. Both the Federal Clean Power Plan and the Paris Climate Accord demonstrate that federal governments are willing to decimate economic progress and environmental preservation on the altar of big government. Neither initiative would have made a bit of difference in addressing national or global challenges, and both would have decimated developing economies and states trying to build diverse economic engines.

While big government leftists talk the talk, free enterprise conservatives actually walk the walk. Environmental stewardship can never be viewed in a vacuum. It is only advanced when free markets, property rights, and the rule of law intersect with the policy challenges we face — both day-to-day and for future generations.

This is an indisputable fact that those promoting the next big government “accord” will never truly grasp — while they give speeches and make bold proclamations, we are on the ground solving problems, reminding generations once again that freedom works every time it is tried.

Dr. Robert McClure provides expert perspective on current issues facing our nation and his home state of Florida, the third-largest state in the nation and a policy bellwether for the country. Recently named one of the Most Influential People in Florida Politics, Dr. McClure serves as the President and CEO of The James Madison Institute, Florida’s premier free-market think tank. He is a frequent commentator on television and talk radio programs and has lectured nationally on diverse policy issues. Dr. McClure has been published numerous times at both the state and national level on topics including property rights, tax policy, health care, and education reform. To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.

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