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GOP Enviro Activist: “Republicans Are Green, Too”

April 2, 2012

RICHMOND, Va. - Support for many environmental causes often seems to run strictly along party lines, but a group of Republicans is trying to change that in Congress. Republicans for Environmental Protection (REP) is asking House Speaker John Boehner to help quickly push 19 bills through the House, to designate new wilderness areas, conserve wetlands and fight invasive species in 14 states, including Virginia.

REP spokesman Jim DiPeso says - these days - it's not easy being "green" and Republican, too.

"Ronald Reagan signed more wilderness bills than any other president, before or since his administration. And what we're trying to say is that conservation is conservative. It is part of the conservative ethic to care for the land and to be good stewards."

Of the 19 bills, two were sponsored by Virginia Republican Congressman Rob Wittman. One promotes restoration of Chesapeake Bay and the other deals with an extension of the Wetlands Conservation Act.

DiPeso understands that Congress has been swamped, but says there is no good reason to delay bills that lawmakers actually agree on.

"When we wrote that letter to Speaker Boehner, we were pointing out, 'Look, you have all these conservation bills that have Republican sponsors. Let's go ahead and pass 'em.'"

DiPeso says the group's mission is to move the GOP more to the ideological center when it comes to conservation.

"For a lot of reasons, the issue has become partisan, and that has held up progress. What we're here to say is, as conservatives, Republicans need to understand that the root of the word 'conservative' is to conserve, to save."

Some of the nation's major environmental decisions were made by Republican presidents, he says, from Teddy Roosevelt to Richard Nixon to Reagan.

More information is available at www.rep.org.

Monique Coppola, Public News Service - VA