An Emerging Republican Alliance on the Environment?

It’s easy to stick to partisan stereotypes and say that the Democratic party is the only hope for environmental protection (I’ve done it myself), but, as this article from the Boston Phoenix demonstrates, there is an emerging coalition within the Republican party demanding more attention to environmental issues. We won’t see a quick, happy partnership between these conservative factions and mainstream environmental groups, though, at least not soon: these groups certainly want to see

their own version of environmental protection, based on traditionally Republican philosophies such as free-market capitalism and property rights. Initiatives like these, which treat natural resources as economic assets β€” providing financial incentives for land protection, for example, or holding polluters liable for the damage they cause β€” can be immensely effective, says Terry Anderson, executive director of the Montana-based Property and Environment Research Center, a free-market environmental think tank that appeals to conservatives.

I certainly think we have to watch this development closely — I’ve criticized “free-market environmentalists” before (and rightly so, I think) for focusing much more on the free market than on the environment. I think there are many genuinely concerned conservative environmentalists out there — Odo’s been a good representative of them here and elsewhere — but we’ve got to make sure that we’re allying with them, and not those organizations and individuals more interested in greenwashing than in actually implementing effective environmental policy. And it should be obvious that these folks aren’t currently well-represented in Republican leadership…

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