The Ripon Forum

Volume 40, No. 5

Oct - Nov 2006 Issue

Protecting the Environment

By on October 21, 2015 with 0 Comments

We must stay true to the heritage of Theodore Roosevelt


With the 2006 midterm elections rapidly approaching, voters are starting to direct their attention to the candidates and the issues that matter to them. Political pundits, meanwhile, are trying to assign the midterm elections an overarching, political meaning – often by framing individual races in terms of global issues. We have seen candidates and pundits alike say that the 2006 elections are about international terrorism, domestic security, or fiscal policy.  These issues are all important, and I hope that voters carefully consider which candidates best represent their views on these key topics. 

Yet these are not the only issues facing our nation, and with the recent evidence about global warming, rising gas prices, and our reliance on foreign oil, we must evaluate candidates’ positions on the environment if we are to elect the right leaders. As the former Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency and a life-long conservationist, I encourage voters to take a careful look at the candidates’ environmental positions and records.  

While there will always be important issues that divide Americans, in a March 2006 Stanford survey, 86 percent of Americans, including similar percentages of Republicans and Democrats, want the federal government to do “a great deal” to improve the health of the environment over the next year. In this spirit, the voters should evaluate   candidates based on how they would work towards accomplishing common sense environmental solutions.  

The environment is a crucially important yet often overlooked issue in American politics. From global warming to carbon emissions, there is so much at stake.  The choices we make on Election Day will have a lasting impact on the environment we pass down to our children and grandchildren.  

For too many years, elected officials have ignored our environment as if it was an issue that would simply go away.  Global warming signs were ignored, and our dependence on foreign oil has continued.  The time to make an impact on these vital matters is now.  


President Theodore Roosevelt was one of the original conservationists. As a party, we are witnessing a return to our roots, and a renewed focus on protecting our natural resources.

Electing leaders who care passionately about the environment makes a tremendous impact on the globe. As Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, I worked each day with both Republicans and Democrats, who put aside politics in order to focus on the important issues surrounding our natural world. The importance of protecting our environment for future generations transcends political affiliations and goes to the very heart of Americans who strive to be good stewards of the land, air and water. 

Many people forget that the Republican Party has long been rooted in environmental protection. President Theodore Roosevelt was one of the original conservationists. As a party, we are witnessing a return to our roots, and a renewed focus on protecting our natural resources. This is vital, not only for our environment, but also for our party. The Republican Party’s unique, incentive-based approach to problems can provide the forward-looking solutions that this country needs. 

With gasoline prices at record highs, Americans have a renewed interest in the development of more fuel efficient cars. The majority of American voters would like to see auto manufacturers create cars that use less fuel and produce less pollution. As such, the tax credits for hybrid cars, recently signed into law by President Bush, received strong support in the Congress. The policy was so forward-looking and logical that it even received the enthusiastic support of the environmental lobby and the auto industry. 

Similarly, representatives of both parties have shown support for increased production of renewable fuels such as ethanol, biodiesel, and biomass fuels. Domestic production of these renewable fuels is not only good for the environment, but also promotes rural economic development and may lessen the international trade gap. American innovation, in this case to improve the environment and stimulate economic growth, can always count on Republican support. 

One of the common sense solutions that I have advocated is greater use of nuclear energy. Nuclear power is environmentally friendly, affordable, clean, dependable and safe. The reality is clear: we have no choice but to find alternative energy sources. Our addiction to fossil fuels is doing damage to the environment each day and crippling our economy with rising energy prices.  None of our efforts to reduce gas emissions will have as great a positive impact on our environment as will increasing our ability to generate electricity from nuclear power.

 Finally, the revitalization of brownfields has been an issue that affects citizens of red states and blue states alike. Leaders must realize that to clean up abandoned, industrial properties is to give our children more space to play and learn. I was particularly impressed by Congress’s ability to work cooperatively as they did in 2001 to create landmark legislation to clean up brownfield sites across the country. The broad, bipartisan majorities that passed the legislation were testament to the issue’s salience and the solution’s common-sense approach.  

These issues are only an example of the many issues on which willing public officials can find common ground, work together, and create solutions that work. Solving these problems will require leaders who are willing to make the effort to understand these issues and work with other officials to create innovative solutions. 

So much is at stake for our environment this November, and real solutions are within reach.  If the voters support candidates who understand the importance of protecting our environment, we will be closer to reaching these goals.  RF

Christine Todd Whitman served as Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency from January of 2001 until June of 2003. She previously served as the 50th, and first woman, Governor of New Jersey.

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