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  • Writer's pictureTab Berg

Defining the Environmentalist

The environment is one of the "big three" issues that are hurting GOP candidates - particularly here in California. And frankly, it's an issue that Republicans should be leading rather than ceding to extremists on the far left.

It's amazingly inconsistent to advocate tight control of tax-dollars, and then blithely ignore the value of irreplaceable national resources. It's like the penny-wise businessman who watches his bank account like a hawk, but ignores routine maintenance on his building until it collapses around him. Eventually he's going to have to deal with it, it's just smarter and cheaper to do it along the way.

Don't confuse real conservationism with the wack-nut extremists who think insects are equally (or more) important than people. We have allowed the wacky-left to define environmentalism. But these extremists are not environmentalists or conservationist - they are the anti-humans. They oppose anything that helps make people's lives easier or better. They have gone beyond NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) and BANANA (Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Not Anytime) and have settled for NOPE (Not On Planet Earth).

And these ultra-lefties have re-defined Republicans as anti-environmental. Of course they get a help from the GOP when we consider selling national parks to help balance the budget while spending the country into debt with reckless pork-barrel projects and earmarks.

Republicans need to stop being scared of the outdoors and step-up to take the lead on sensible environmental solutions. I once heard FlashReport's own Jill Buck speaking at the State Party convention, and someone asked her about global warming - her answer was brilliant (I'm paraphrasing): "We need to stop fighting about causes or validity of global warming, and instead focus on solutions that are good for the country and good for business anyway."

Jill's own efforts in creating the GoGreen Initiative are phenomenal - helping the environment by reducing landfill waste -- all driven by education and the market place (i.e. you save money when you GoGreen!) rather than regulatory measures and punitive enforcement.

And, as the State goes through it's budget dance (which is much more like a stumble than a dance), we may again miss many opportunities to lead efforts to improve the environment - like adding more Game Wardens (CA has the lowest ratio of Wardens), supporting proven programs like GoGreen that improve the environment using business principles and education, and finding solutions to improve or protect the environment while ensuring human needs are met.

We can't just sit on sidelines and throw rocks at the Governor for putting the environment at the top of his agenda - even if his measures are more effective at getting headlines than improving the environment.

We need Republican leaders and the party to do a better job of promoting environmental solutions and educating the public when we do something meaningful.

I recently heard a recap of Congressman Dan Lungren's speech in support of a proposal to study restoring Hetch-Hetchy. The party should be broadcasting that speech in every "purple state" like California where the environment is a big issue.

Republicans led the nation on environmental issues in the past. Republicans for Environmental Protection (REP - California) has a presentation/video that chronicles GOP leadership on environmental protection and conservation. My developer clients work hard to create the most sustainable open space possible and still run a business. The Sacramento Metro Chamber of Commerce has a task force to develop green industries. Jill Buck's GoGreen Initiative has been adopted by dozens of schools throughout the nation. All around us there are example of sensible, effective environmental protection and conservation.

But voters never learn about them. Elections in California are not going to get easier for the GOP. If we want to succeed, we must do a better job of communicating our ideas and our vision to voters.

And, by actually doing something on the environment, we won't have to bother dummying up some fake environmental group every election year to give candidates cover on issues they've ignored since the last election.

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