Sometimes in, politics we get so tied up in the party that we can’t see the big picture. Conservative and environment — are they mutually exclusive? As Americans, our quality of life is at the center of this question, and as Americans, I believe we all, regardless of party, strive for a better quality of life.
The South Carolina Republican Party recognizes stewardship of the earth to be one of the chief responsibilities of mankind and, therefore, holds the preservation and protection of our natural resources as a sacred trust.
Teddy Roosevelt, a Republican President, is credited with starting the conservation movement and founding our National Park System. As a proponent of the Scouting movement, the Boy Scouts of America bestowed upon him the honorary title of Chief Scout Citizen, the only person to hold the title.
There’s an old bumper sticker out there with the slogan “America is returning to the values that Scouting never left.” For me, growing up in the Scouting movement, it’s always been a part of my values — that thrifty and clean can exist in the same sentence, and that’s how Scouting has shaped my opinions. America is thankfully still a free enterprise market and is shaped by a capitalist, entrepreneurial spirit. So let’s not ignore common sense; let’s not allow an overreaching government to mess up what makes America so great, and let’s not allow partisanship to be the only thing that matters.
Over our nation’s history, Americans have witnessed the degradation of our countryside and then efforts to improve it. We’ve learned that a clean place to live is a better place to live, and that property values and our quality of life can actually improve where this takes place. However, today’s overreaching government agencies, while having the best of intentions, are a part of the problem, not a part of the solution.
For example, in 1969 the Cuyahoga River fire in Cleveland captured national attention. This event spurred pollution control activities resulting in the Clean Water Act and the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency. The EPA was originally put in place in 1970 by President Nixon under the appropriate pretense that the air quality in the country needed to be better. The EPA has been successful in cutting down the amount of soot and smog in the air which, if not directly linked to saving lives, has certainly improved the quality of life for Americans. (Just think, without the EPA, America’s air would look as dirty as the air over Beijing). At this point in our country, the EPA’s original purpose has been accomplished and as technology evolves, our ways of doing business have evolved. Government needs to evolve as well, not stifle business. The EPA may serve certain purposes, but it has become a regulatory burden on many American companies. There must be a common sense balance to the needs of all stakeholders.
Here on the Grand Strand, we have an economy based on tourism; tourism is presently the number one industry in South Carolina. The challenge for our region is diversification of a service-based economy that caters to tourism by creating a more attractive climate for manufacturers to locate here. Inserting ourselves into the emerging wind industry commons is about more than just green energy. It’s about an economic platform. It’s about looking to the long-term to bring higher paying, year-round jobs to our community. It’s about raising the intellectual capital for our region and beyond. There is no magic bullet to our country’s energy needs, and it’s not realistic to suggest that environmental and economic concerns are mutually exclusive. Our “big tent” approach to encouraging new business along the Grand Strand ensures that all stakeholders are at the table — from environmental advocates to industry players.
Today’s political parties have so polarized the issues surrounding our country’s natural resources that we’ve lost sight of what’s important. Protecting our environment by being stewards of the earth can actually be good for our quality of life, as well as our bottom line. Being an advocate for the environment is being an advocate for a better economy — as long as common sense is applied and the long arm of government is kept at bay.
Greg Duckworth is proud to be endorsed by the Conservation Voters of South Carolina!
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