ConservAmerica, formerly known as Republicans for Environmental Protection (REP), is a national organization of United States Republican Party voters formed in 1995. REP’s stated purpose is to strengthen the Republican Party’s stance on environmental issues and support efforts to conserve natural resources and protect human and environmental health. Incorporated in Illinois, its headquarters are in Sturgis, Michigan.
On March 30, 2012, REP President Rob Sisson and Chairwoman Tina Beattie announced that the organization would be changing its name to ConservAmerica. ConservAmerica had been the name of REP's sister 501(c)3 organization; that nonprofit is now called the ConservAmerica Education Fund.
REP was founded in 1995 by three women, Martha Marks, who at the time was a member of the Lake County, Illinois, Board of County Commissioners; Kim O'Keefe-Wilkins; and Aurie Kryzuda. They met at an endangered species conference in Chevy Chase, Maryland. As lifelong Republicans, they were concerned that the new Republican majority in the 104th Congress was seeking to weaken the Clean Water Act and other environmental laws.
In April 2012, the group renamed itself "ConservAmerica", a name that it said represented "the inherent connection between conservation and conservatism" while appealing to an audience that has grown less party-affiliated. David Jenkins, the group’s vice president for governmental and political affairs, said that "Messaging through a Republican frame doesn’t reach [independents] as well as reaching them through a conservative frame." The group is keeping its green elephant logo.
REP’s stated mission is: "To resurrect the GOP's great conservation tradition and to restore natural resource conservation and sound environmental protection as fundamental elements of the Republican Party's vision for America."
REP’s slogan, "Conservation is Conservative", is based on the traditional conservative philosophy of writers and thinkers such as British statesman Edmund Burke, President Theodore Roosevelt, and authors Russell Kirk, author of "The Conservative Mind: From Burke to Eliot", and Richard Weaver, author of "Ideas Have Consequences". REP argues in its literature that conservation and responsible environmental stewardship are core conservative values that necessarily extend from concepts such as prudence, personal responsibility, thrift and Burke’s view that society is a partnership among past, present and future generations.
REP cites the conservation achievements of Republican leaders, including Abraham Lincoln’s initial protection of Yosemite Valley and pioneering conservationist president, Theodore Roosevelt's establishment of national forests, monuments, parks, and wildlife refuges. Other Republican leaders often cited by REP for their conservation records include Presidents Herbert Hoover, Dwight Eisenhower, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, and Ronald Reagan, Senators John Chafee, William Roth and John McCain, Congressman John Saylor, and California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.
REP advocates for conservation and environmental protection on a wide variety of environment and energy-related issues. The organization favors retention of environmental laws that were adopted with bipartisan support, such as the Wilderness Act, Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, Endangered Species Act, the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the Wild & Scenic Rivers Act.
In 2005, REP worked to block efforts to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling. REP helped organize a group of Republican House members to oppose an attempt to include drilling authorization in budget legislation that would be immune from filibuster in the Senate. William H. Meadows, President of the Wilderness Society, noted: “There are many organizations—national, regional, local—that have worked diligently to protect the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for decades, but the most important organization in the campaign this year has been REP.”
In recent years[when?], REP has focused heavily on energy and climate issues. REP advocates for reduced U.S. dependence on oil and other fossil fuels through more energy efficiency, and more use of renewable and nuclear energy. REP’s environmental policy positions are covered in the organization’s policy publication C.E.P. Quarterly and detailed in a variety of REP policy papers.
Each year, REP publishes a Congressional Scorecard that rates Republican members of Congress based on the votes they cast and the leadership actions they took to advance what REP considers environmental stewardship.
REP’s 10 state chapters take positions on state environmental issues and advocate for them in their state legislatures.
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REP endorses Republican candidates that the organization believes generally share its positions on environmental issues. REP made endorsements in 2006, 2008, and 2010.
In 2000 and in 2008, REP endorsed Senator John McCain for President. REP advised the McCain campaign on climate change mitigation. REP did not endorse George W. Bush in 2000 or 2004, and publicly opposed the 2001 nomination of Gale Norton as Secretary of the Interior.
REP has an affiliated political action committee called REP PAC and an independent 527 group called the REP Conservation Fund. Both work to elect or defend Republicans who have what REP calls strong environmental credentials.
- Lucia Graves (April 3, 2012). "Republican Environmental Group Drops 'Republican' From Its Name". Huffington Post. Retrieved 2012-04-05.
- Bob King (April 4, 2012). "GOP green group drops 'Republicans' from name". Politico. Retrieved 2012-04-05.
- Andrew Restuccia (April 2, 2012). "Republicans for Environmental Protection rebrands". The Hill. Retrieved 2012-04-05.
- Some examples from its website: Military Leaders Sound Climate Alarm and Myths Power Critics of Solar and Wind Energy.
-  Jim Hansen's Conservative Climate Plan October 11, 2010
- Official website (formerly at http://www.rep.org/)
- "The Green Conservative: An Interview with Jim DiPeso"