A Year to Remember
As rising conservative star Benji Backer sat in an entrepreneurship class at the University of Washington, he wondered how he could unite a country left deeply divided following the tumultuous 2016 presidential election. His first thought, albeit a relatively simple one, involved launching a blog that promoted a conservative approach to environmental issues. What Backer didn’t realize at the time was that his spur-of-the-moment idea would transform from a startup blog into a nationwide advocacy group in just one year.
Backer’s creation, now known as the American Conservation Coalition, is at the forefront of a growing movement that seeks to propose free market environmental solutions and engage conservatives disaffected by alarmist climate change rhetoric.
I once fell into this category of conservatives disgruntled by the polarizing rhetoric that surrounded environmental issues. I felt trapped; my own party had abandoned me by expressing hostility towards the environment while the left had nothing to offer besides big government, anti-growth solutions.
Joining the American Conservation Coalition in November 2017 changed everything for me. I now know that stereotypes regarding conservative resentment towards the environment are simply not true. Being a part of this tremendous organization has allowed me to collaborate with countless conservatives that care deeply about the environment, and I’m confident that this will be mainstream sentiment in the Republican Party of the future.
My story captures just a glimpse of the ACC’s rise to prominence. Thanks to its unique message and impressive efforts, the organization has assembled a talented team of 36 people in 20 states spanning from Alaska to Florida. All across the country, team members are working tirelessly to advance a conservative environmental agenda and propel the organization to new heights.
In Minnesota, Chief Operating Officer Danielle Butcher organizes ACC events and ensures that the organization is running smoothly. She works vigorously to spread ACC’s message and build its emerging brand.
In New York, National Policy Director Nick Lindquist leads efforts to craft ACC’s growing platform. He spends countless hours reading through legislation and formulating the organization’s views on complex issues.
In Washington, Legislative Director Quill Robinson builds relationships with elected officials and business leaders that support ACC’s message. He invests significant time into coordinating the organization’s involvement in this year’s midterm elections.
The hard work put in by these individuals – and many others – translates into organization wide success. What sets ACC apart is the belief amongst all team members that the organization and its message are bigger than themselves or any one person. The humble, yet relentless, nature of this staff helps to explain the organization’s impressive string of accomplishments in just one year of existence.
As a millennial-led organization, ACC places a great deal of emphasis on campus activism. The organization has gained remarkable traction in this area, notably with its rapidly expanding campus program. Already, individuals on 46 different college campuses have launched ACC chapters.
ACC’s message has generated widespread support amongst young conservatives. An impressive 38 of 50 state College Republican chairs signed on to the organization’s Clean Energy Coalition. ACC also conducted widely successful petition drives on college campuses that brought attention to issues such as local flooding and salmon conservation.
ACC’s successes extend beyond the confines of college campuses, nevertheless. Notably, a group of ACC representatives met with 34 members of Congress during Lobby Week in June. The American Conservation Coalition, despite its youth, is already building strong relationships with a number of elected officials and bringing attention to free market environmentalism.
ACC’s reach hasn’t been limited to niche conservative circles. The organization has been featured in widely circulated outlets such as Vox, CNBC, AP, and many others. This coverage demonstrates that ACC is clearly filling a void in today’s polarizing political climate; Americans, and young ones in particular, overwhelmingly would like to see environmental issues addressed in an efficient and effective manner.
ACC’s General Counsel Brandon Neuman told me that this team has an infectious energy, like that of a renewable resource. He is absolutely right. Since its founding one year ago today, the American Conservation Coalition has evolved into the premier voice for conservative environmentalism thanks to its staff’s unrelenting commitment to changing the narrative. This organization’s first year has certainly been one to remember, but we’re just getting started!