Green elephants take on Greenscammers

Republicans for Environmental Protection seeks to move beyond the current cognitive dissonance and oxymoron status afforded to environmental and conservation issues by most GOP leaders today.

by Aurie Kryzuda
heodore Roosevelt is probably rolling over in his grave. Legislation that would have sent this nature lover's arms flailing is now being pushed, shoved, and finagled through his Republican Party today. Conservation is now anathema by a once conservation-minded GOP. What happened and when did the Republican Party become such anti-environmental thugs?
Appreciation for this country's vast resources is part of our heritage. We even celebrate it in song. And never has that appreciation been more evident then in our attempts to stem the degradation of streams, lakes, and lands when Richard Nixon signed into law the Clean Water and the Endangered Species Acts in the 1970's. These bipartisan laws were the collective realizations that by killing our resources we were killing ourselves. It was that simple.
That message is true even more so today. While we have made enormous strides in bringing back some species from the brink of extinction and cleaning some "dead" lakes and rivers, we are a far cry away from a sustainable environment, given the current rate of destruction of plants and animals. Ushering in this environmental grim reaper is the current crop of Republican lawmakers who are having a heyday promoting anti-environmental legislation.
Intoxicated by their success in 1994, the Republicans believed that Americans wanted a strong economy and creation of jobs at all costs. They designed a Contract With America that was going to revolutionize this country. But their biggest stealth target has been the environment. In a flurry of anti-environmental headiness, they drafted legislation that opened our national forests to more clear cutting, would allow oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, gut the Endangered Species Act, sell our national parks, cut renewable energy investments, and weaken the Clean Water Act - just to name a few.

Revolution indeed!

But the revolutionaries have misfired. Americans do not want their lands and resources destroyed. Survey upon survey has demonstrated that well over 60 percent of the public supports strong environmental laws.
Responding to this shameless attack on the environment by the 104th Congress, a handful of Republicans decided to take matters into their own hands. Believing there were many like-minded individuals who shared their concern for protecting our resources, Republicans for Environmental Protection (REP) was created in 1995. No longer content to sit on the side lines while their party dismantled decades of conservation successes, REP solicited the support of citizens across the country to ban together and persuade our legislators to return to their conservation roots started by Theodore Roosevelt. And the results so far have been phenomenal. In less than one year, chapters have been started in 43 states. Newspapers and magazines are covering the story and membership is growing.
While still a fledgling organization, REP has been able to convey their message to legislators that they will fight against laws that weaken protection of our environment. REP maintains that preserving our land and resources is of paramount importance and should not be compromised by partisan politics or legislative finagling. Conservation is a moral obligation that everyone should share in order to guarantee resource sustainability for future generations. Short term economic gains at the expense of long term environmental stability is not only self-serving but a formula for disaster.
REP will continue to press its agenda for strong environmental policies and will do so within the system. We will not stand idly by and allow the extremists' agenda that hides behind the cloak of constitutional rights to continue their use and abuse practices.
This is more than a battle of environmentalism versus economics. It is a war between the self-serving greed of a few who see our resources from strictly a utilitarian perspective and those who understand its intrinsic value. It is a war between those who want to maximize profits at the expense of the land and public health and those who want to maximize conservation for the benefit of society. It is property rights anarchy under the guise of constitutional rights versus property responsibility for the general right of the community as a whole. It is changing the attitude - and the seat - of legislators like Congresswoman Helen Chenoweth (R-ID) who believes that bears are "schizophrenic, manic-depressive animals" who should not be allowed in her state.

You're invited!

REP will be speaking during the Republican National Convention at the demonstration area on August 13th from 11:40 to 12:35pm. A tentative press conference will also be held at 10 a.m. with awards given to those Republican lawmakers who have been strong supporters of the environment. Local members as well as those from across the country will be in attendance to show their unity as Republicans who care deeply about the environment and want to reestablish the party's long and honorable conservation tradition.
Representatives for KNOAH's ARC will be speaking at the demonstration area during the Republican National Convention on August 13th from 3:10 to 4:05 pm. Speakers will include Les Braund, chairman of ARC, who will discuss the current rash of anti-environmental legislation and Mr. Peter Illyn, former minister of the Foursquare Church, who will speak about our moral and religious responsibilities towards stewardship of the land. A third speaker will be announced at a later time.
Anyone interested in participating in either of these events, or to find out more about REP, please call Aurie Kryzuda at (619) 271-7565.

Aurie Kryzuda is the co-founder of REP and organizer of the California Chapter, and a co-founder of KNOAH's ARC, a Christian environmental organization.