When people think about environmental legislation, they immediately think that it is Democratic legislature, because the environment has become a partisan issue. The health of our Earth depends on if people want to advance their political agenda or not. In reality, most major environmental legislation has been passed during Republican administrations. Roosevelt started the concept of national parks, Nixon passed the the Clean Air and Water Act and created the EPA, and George H.W. Bush greatly expanded the Clean Air and Water Act. During his 1970 State of the Union address, Nixon said “Shall we surrender to our surroundings or shall we make our peace with nature and begin to make reparations for the damage we have done to our air, to our land and to our water?”
Candidates saw the environment as a good platform to run on because despite what they believed about tax brackets, everyone wanted to save the whales. The first Earth Day in 1970 was a resounding success as everyone came out to repair the environment.
Since then, the environment has become and more and more controversial. I believe this is because the issue of protecting the Earth has become completely clouded by business debates. Controlling the use of fossil fuels revolves more around “How many jobs will we lose?” rather than “How many ppb CO2 will this oil reserve contribute to the atmosphere?”, without considering the question “How many jobs will the expansion of alternative generate?”. While it’s true that the environment has a large stake in the economy, as slow gradual transition to alternative energy insures that jobs won’t disappear dramatically faster than they appear, and America becomes more energy self-sufficient. This helps grow small businesses and diversify the economy, as Republican ideals wish for.
Public perspective is so skewed that people are leery of sound, scientific-based, peer-reviewed climate models. Our new president’s idea of “alternative facts” , calling climate change a hoax, and rejecting science perpetuates the mistrust and misunderstanding even further.
Additionally, compromise, which was once regarded wisely as the best solution, is now a dirty word. Congress members are seen as weak if they compromise on their position in order to reach a settlement that benefits both sides. So instead Congress just debates until the government shuts down. This unwillingness to accept other viewpoints stands as one of the biggest barriers to environmental advancement, as every move is seen as part of the political game.
When McCain ran for president, his stance on climate change was even stronger than Obama’s. However, a few years later when Trump removed the United States from the Paris accord, almost every elected Republican leader praised his actions, even if they privately disagreed with it. Despite their personal beliefs, the fate of the environment has fallen into the trap of party politics. Even the head of the EPA doesn’t believe in climate change. Much of this partisan divide has to do with the fossil fuel industry lobby. Their donations allow for even looser regulations, leading to further environmental damage and big bucks.
The conclusion that we can draw from this is that the when the government can’t effectively deal with environmental issues because partisan politics have gotten too muddled up in it. Thus, it’s up to the citizens to show that they care about the environment, locally, nationally, globally, to convince politicians to throw away their political agenda and focus on an environmental one.
“A Fierce Green Fire” documentary