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Market-based environmental action allows us to conserve our energy, wildlife, land, air, and water, while also ensuring continued economic growth. There is strong evidence that public goods can be maintained through private action. The American Conservation Coalition believes that people, businesses, and the government can work together to solve the nation’s environmental issues without sacrificing our economic prosperity or our rights as Americans. The 5 Conservative Environmental Principles outline these ideas:
Our Principles of Conservative Environmentalism
1. Conservation is a conservative value. We can be good stewards of our land and wildlife by returning to conservationism, promoting sportsmen’s rights, and implementing effective land management strategies.
2. Competition and free-enterprise are vital to effective environmental stewardship.
3. Clean energy is an important aspect of environmental stewardship and our economy. Conservatives must embrace clean energy as an opportunity to lower emissions, build a stronger American economy, and develop a more diverse energy portfolio.
4. Property rights are inherently important to conservation. Understanding the importance of protecting our public lands, we believe local leaders should have a more prominent voice in discussions regarding public lands. We also believe that the property rights of our public lands must be well defined and the funding structures must be developed responsibly in order to conserve wildlife, the lands, and public access to the lands.
5. Climate change is real and humans have been a contributing factor. While there is no consensus on the severity, we believe it is a threat that must be responded to. The private sector, innovation, and common-sense legislation are best suited to address climate change and the threats associated with it.
Our View: Energy
The Competitive Energy Approach: Energy plays a vital role in the American economy and our status as one of the world’s most prosperous nations. The key to maintaining American energy prosperity is the competitive energy approach. This approach supports energy development of all kinds, from wind to natural gas, solar, oil, hydro, and many more. Additionally, through this approach, markets and consumers choose what kind of energy they want and where it comes from. With the competitive energy approach will come lower energy costs, more American jobs, environmental conservation, a reduction in carbon and other gas emissions, and the ultimate goal of American energy independence, which plays a pivotal role in our future as a capitalist nation.
The Importance of Clean Energy: Affordable, clean energy is pivotal for the United States as it moves into the 21st century. In addition to traditional energy sources, the United States should look to energies like nuclear, hydropower, wind, and solar. Eighty-three percent of Americans believe increasing the use of green energy sources should be a priority for America’s energy policies. Further, nearly half of Americans believe keeping energy prices low should be a top priority for energy policy. The United States can strike an appropriate balance between minimizing energy costs and maximizing investment in clean energy by adopting sensible policies that encourage energy innovation.
Air Quality and Carbon Emissions
Our View: Air Quality and Carbon Emissions
Carbon Pollution is Bad for the Environment and the Economy: Carbon pollution has negative environmental and economic effects. A good example is the increased damage from floods and hurricanes which, in recent years, has cost taxpayers billions through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). Other problems include drought, rising sea levels, and acidification of the ocean. While we do not believe carbon pricing is the best solution to fight carbon pollution, we acknowledge the climate is changing and that there are several solutions on the table to address it. There is no one effective solution to mitigating carbon emissions, but rather several smaller ones. The best solutions utilize the power of the free market and American innovation. By expanding on the abilities of the market, which has already reduced U.S. emissions more than any other nation in the world, we can achieve further emission reduction without taxes that burden the most vulnerable Americans and American businesses.
Solutions to Carbon Pollution: Complex challenges call for innovative solutions. ACC is excited about several free-market solutions to carbon emission reduction. Many of these policy proposals are shared with other organizations in the Clean Capitalist Coalition.
Carbon Offsets: Consumers and investors are putting increasing emphasis on corporate responsibility and environmental social governance (ESG) when making purchasing and investing decisions. Consumers broadly approve of climate-conscious business practices, and investors see corporations that are more mindful of ESG issues as more sound. This behavior encourages capitalist approaches to reducing carbon emissions; carbon offsets are often purchased by companies looking to raise their ESG profile. Carbon offsets fund projects designed to reduce carbon in the air through reforestation, community-based ocean restoration, and more.
A Voluntary Federal Framework for Carbon Reduction: The CCC supports a voluntary federal framework for carbon reduction because it is pragmatic and market-based. Such a framework would establish national guidelines for companies to more efficiently measure and report carbon emission reduction. The voluntary nature of the framework would protect businesses from potentially burdensome regulation while allowing companies that prioritize ESG to gain positive PR. A voluntary federal framework could also spur corporations to make even greater carbon emissions reductions and invest further in green innovations.
Carbon Capture and Storage Technology: Advancements in carbon capture and storage (CCS) can further advance carbon emission reduction goals. CCS technology pulls carbon from the air that could then be stored underground or used in enhanced oil recovery (EOR). This would put a value on carbon when used for EOR and ultimately help reduce levels of CO2 in the air.
Green Bonds: Green bonds are securities sold by companies to investors to fund green projects such as building more energy efficient buildings or reducing the carbon footprint of business operations. ACC and CCC support green bonds as a great way for the market to take advantage of the investment potential of environmental stewardship.
Our View: Public Lands
From the from the peaceful beaches of New England to the lush forests of the Pacific Northwest, the natural beauty of America is unmatched anywhere in the world. Conservatives have historically protected our pristine lands. From Teddy Roosevelt’s National Park Service to Richard Nixon’s EPA, land and wildlife conservation has always been a conservative principle. Conservatives must continue to protect our ecologically crucial lands for future generations to enjoy just as we do today.
Restore Our National Parks: The National Park Service is ingrained in the fabric of the American Spirit. It represents the beauty and vastness of the nation and also allows Americans to enjoy the outdoors, with about 331 million people visiting our parks in 2017. Because of how important our parks are, they need our attention now more than ever. Due to underfunding and mismanagement, the parks are in need of $11.6 billion in vital repairs. To combat this, the Department of the Interior has mandated many parks to spend upwards of 55% of their collected park fees to reduce the park maintenance backlog. By doing this, however, they are likely making the problem worse: by mandating parks to allocate most of their funds to the backlog, the park is forced to allow other needs to worsen, potentially adding more to the backlog than they are able to remove. The NPS should allow parks to decide what their own individual budget priorities are, as well as provide assistance to the parks in breaking the backlog.
Implement Effective Land Management Strategies:Federal land tends to be tremendously mismanaged and underfunded. The fact of the matter is that local land managers of the National Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management, and other DOI entities are not given enough control over the lands they were hired to manage. The Department of the Interior needs to prioritize local/statewide involvement when talking about how to manage lands.
Our View: Wildlife Conservation
It’s imperative now more than ever that America’s innovative spirit begins to take on the challenges of wildlife conservation. Government efforts to fix the growing epidemic have been grossly inefficient in solving the issue and consequently have inflicted harm on private citizens and agencies hoping to see change. For the sake of our vast array of wildlife and marine life, Congress must enact meaningful reforms to the Endangered Species Act, the Bureau of Land Management, the National Forest Service, and other arms and programs of the federal government. These reforms should further assist states in the effort to conserve wildlife as well as allocate necessary funding to them rather than federal programs. Additionally, we must embrace private sector conservation efforts. As a country, we should embrace private conservationists wanting to use their own money to help conserve and restore native populations across the country.
Ocean and Water Conservation
Our View: Ocean and Water Conservation
Enviropreneurship Can Clean Up Our Oceans: Ocean plastics are a threat to all marine life. Marine species often die from consuming or becoming entangled in plastic waste. This can be solved by holding dumpers accountable. We can also support enviropreneurs like 4Ocean, a company that sells bracelets made of ocean plastic they collect through their ocean cleanup program. 4Ocean has removed 2.3 million pounds of ocean trash as of December 2018.
Establish Western Water Markets:Freshwater has been an issue for many areas of the country. From the Western water scarcity problems to the water quality problems of many cities, nowhere is completely safe from our water problem. In the West, many of the problems lie in outdated policies. Appropriative water rights, also known as “first in time -first in right” doctrine was used during the days of westward expansion. The doctrine allocates a specific amount of water to everyone based on need, meaning that everyone must prove a need for the amount of water they are taking. Today, people and companies take water they don’t need because of the “use it or lose it” principle, meaning if a farmer happens to use less water than usual, he or she will lose the rights to that amount of water the following year. Establishing water markets in western states would put an end to the outdated prior appropriation doctrine, cancel out the wasteful “use it or lose it” principle, and encourage water conservation.
Our View: Agriculture
Looking Forward: President Ronald Reagan understood the unique position that agriculture enjoys in the fabric of America. In 1982 he referred to America’s agriculturists as, “… the real miracle workers of the modern world—keepers of an incredible system based on faith, freedom, hard work, productivity, and profit—a system that feeds us and sustains millions of the world’s hungry.” ACC is led by movers and shakers across America and recognizes the need for sustainability in both rural and urban lands.
Modernizing the Agriculture Industry: Agriculture continues to be the backbone of a number of rural communities throughout the United States. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Association predicts that global food production will double by 2050. The world’s additional food needs can be produced only by adopting new agricultural technologies and improving our farming practices. GMOs, better irrigation techniques, and other innovations will allow the U.S. to reach new agricultural heights and better feed the world.