A University of Georgia junior, Stephen Greenway, wrote an essay that he shared among College Republicans. The essay was not your typical one when you consider the source: a Republican. In it, Greenway calls for the entire party to do more for the environment. He even calls for Republicans to align themselves with Democratic environmentalists.
In the essay, Greenway points out that President Theodore Roosevelt established the National Parks System, making Republicans, in essence, the first environmentalists. Both conservatism and conservation can only serve to strengthen the economy according to this young author.
Greenway wrote, “To ensure that America remains exceptional, we must compete in a global economy that is also an increasingly green economy. By being the best in innovation and conservation, we do not give up our American values, we uphold them. Why shouldn’t we be the best in conservation and create more jobs and prosper while we do it?”
Republicans may be listening. Earlier this year, our legislature passed a bill that removed barriers in the way of property owners who want to install solar panels on their property. In recent years, the party has encouraged Georgia Power Co. to take off with its voluntary solar-power acquisition. It has been shown that renewable energy can be economical for the country, and Republicans want to be sure that they are among the frontrunners when it comes to approving measures for alternative energies.
In Geenway’s essay, he points to the fact that a recent PEW study shows that just under 48 percent of Millennials who identify as Republican agree that some government protections can be worthwhile. It is these constituents whom Republican office holders would do well to pay attention to. Reaching Millennials is important to the Republican party as a shift in environmental thinking is underway.
Whether or not the Republicans will ramp up their planet-saving efforts remains to be seen. In the meantime, one thing is certain: Republicans are more open to discussing environmental issues and supporting legislation than they have been in years past.