Legislator Highlight: Rep. Mike Gallagher

At just 34-years-old, Representative Mike Gallagher serves as an ideal torchbearer for the future of effective and common-sense conservatism. Rep. Gallagher was elected in 2016 and represents Wisconsin’s 8th Congressional District, which is home to the Great Lakes, one of our nation’s greatest natural treasures. From his work in the private sector to his first term in Congress, Rep. Gallagher has championed effective conservation and energy strategies. To create a new age of non-polarizing, free market environmentalism, we need more individuals like Rep. Mike Gallagher in Congress.

Prior to taking office, Rep. Gallagher worked for Breakthrough Fuel, an innovation based firm that seeks to reduce transportation costs and emissions by streamlining supply chains. Incentivizing innovation, as opposed to enforcing mandates, is a strategy that will produce far better results in the energy sector. Individuals and businesses respond more actively to incentives than to threats of punishment, and many corporations are proving that government involvement in the energy sector is often not necessary. Rep. Gallagher understands and champions this view, noting that he “will use [his] private sector experience to fight for a common-sense, all of-the-above energy policy that reduces our dependence on foreign energy, creates jobs, strengthens our manufacturing base, while also protecting all of the natural beauty Wisconsin has to offer.” This statement reflects the appropriate balance of economic and environmental considerations that is often lost in polarized discussions. Environmental conversations frequently focus on potential government action despite the fact that regulations do little to help the environment in many cases. We must instead use a balanced approach to protect our environment and economy simultaneously.

While in Congress, Rep. Gallagher has promoted pro-growth and pro-environment initiatives. Rep. Gallagher chose to continue the Save the Bay Initiative, which was launched by his predecessor, Rep. Reid Ribble. This coalition works to preserve local water quality by encouraging and implementing conservation farming and efficient management strategies. Through this win-win approach for farmers, they refine and modernize their farming techniques, which increase profit margins, and maintain higher water quality, which is essential to their industry and livelihood. A localized effort like Save the Bay is much more effective in promoting stewardship than a sweeping government mandate that often discourages farmers from acting sustainably. (See the Endangered Species Act and “shoot, shovel, shut up”). Rep. Gallagher has also been a strong advocate for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and actively opposed proposed funding cuts to the program. The Congressman has pointed out the importance of the Great Lakes on numerous occasions, emphasizing their significance as both a job creator and natural treasure. Let’s realize that environmental protection and economic growth are not mutually exclusive. Through free market policies that incentivize innovation, a quality environment, efficient energy sector, and strong economy can all coexist.

As a member of a millennial-led organization, it is encouraging to see a strong, young conservative advocate like Rep. Mike Gallagher in Congress. If the conservative movement aspires to attract more young people, then it must welcome individuals like Rep. Gallagher who express significant concern about the environment. Conservatives must look past the left’s polarizing rhetoric and realize that limited government environmental solutions do exist. If this realization occurs, the American Conservation Coalition, along with elected officials like Rep. Gallagher, will be able to change the narrative and usher in a new era of efficient, effective, conservative environmentalism.

Ronnie Thompson