Courtesy Reagan Library via Wikimedia Commons“While liberals will never admit it, Ronald Reagan was one of our nation’s greatest climate champions,” argues the new site Conservativeclimate.org, a joint project of ConservAmerica and Republicans for Environmental Protection (REP). It’s clear that no freedom-hating liberal graphic designers were involved in the creation of the site.
David Jenkins, REP’s vice president for government and political affairs, kicks things off with the essay “What Would Reagan Do About Climate Change?”
Jenkins argues that Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh have made a mockery of the good Reagan’s name, failing to mention his “environmental accomplishments.”
“Reagan is not their compass, but rather a cloak they wrap themselves in for credibility,” he writes.
Jenkins takes pains to draw out those environmental accomplishments, noting that the first cap-and-trade program, to address acid rain, was discussed within the Reagan administration. Reagan also ushered through the 1987 Montreal Protocol, the treaty that phased out ozone-depleting chemicals. He even alluded to it in his 1987 State of the Union address: “We are also developing proposals that make use of market incentives to control air pollution caused by sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions and the causes of acid rain.”
Jenkins goes so far as to tout Reagan’s negotiation of the Montreal Protocol as “the biggest single accomplishment to date in reducing the greenhouse emissions responsible for global warming.” The treaty wasn’t designed to combat climate change, but the CFCs it clamped down on are a greenhouse gas.
All of which leads to Jenkins’ conclusion: “So, how can anyone honestly believe that Ronald Reagan would not rise to the occasion and effectively tackle climate change as well?”
The overall site tries to remind conservatives of the land-, air-, and water-protecting heroes of the Republican Party past. In cases like National Parks champion Theodore Roosevelt, that’s perfectly legit.
But shoehorning Reagan into that role is a joke. He tried to dismantle the EPA, refused to enforce Clean Air and Clean Water Act protections, and did perhaps more than anyone to make anti-environmentalism a tenet of conservative orthodoxy.
The site might do better to focus on bright lights of the present—Republicans at the local and state levels who are governing as sensible environmental stewards. Are there any of those out there? Open question.