Republicans for Environmental Protection logoThe name goes ...

Once upon a time, there were green Republicans.

Like John McCain, who sponsored the first climate cap-and-trade bill in the Senate — before getting all bitter about that whole being-crushed-by-Obama thing.

Like former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, who set bold targets for cutting his state’s greenhouse gas emissions — before getting walloped in a Senate race by Tea Party darling Marco Rubio.

Like Maine Sen. Olympia Snowe, who championed cap-and-trade and got high marks from the League of Conservation Voters — before getting fed up with Senate dysfunction and polarization and GOP anti-contraception lunacy.

Like Arnold Schwarzenegger, who proudly signed California’s groundbreaking climate bill and fought back against oil industry efforts to repeal it — before being exposed as a serial philanderer who had a love child with his family’s housekeeper.

Now the ranks of green Republicans have gotten so thin that the nonprofit Republicans for Environmental Protection is dropping “Republicans” from its name.

Well, that’s not how the group itself explains it. Jim DiPeso, policy director for the newly christened ConservAmerica, says, “We thought it was important to hammer home the connections between conservation and traditional conservative values.”

ConservAmerican logo... but the elephant stays.

DiPeso says the Republican trend toward climate denial is “disturbing,” but his group certainly isn’t giving up on the party. ConservAmerica will continue spotlighting green Republican ideas and endorsing green Republican candidates, even if they’re few and far between these days.

The group was excited about Jon Huntsman — and they might have been the only ones. As Huntsman drily told Grist after dropping out of the Republican presidential primary race, his position on climate change “didn’t help at all” during the campaign.

As for Romney, says DiPeso, “We’re still trying to figure out the man and the candidate.”

ConservAmerica has reached out to the Romney campaign and offered to brief the candidate on environmental issues. I suggest they not wait by the phone.