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Can the NH GOP Find a Place at the Energy and Climate Table?

An excerpt from an editorial I wrote for The Union Leader on Earth Day 2004:

Democrats support “protection of wildlife habitat to maintain healthy sustainable ecosystems”; Republicans want to “preserve sensitive ecosystems and effectively manage wildlife”.  MtBE should be “eliminated” (Democrats) or “banned” (Republicans)

Ten years ago you could not distinguish between the NH Republican and Democratic Platforms when it came to the environment.  Today division is apparent:

  • Republicans laud the private landowner as steward and encourage public access to natural areas. There is a plank supporting  private investments in an environmentally sensitive transportation system, and a plank encouraging better roads so that you and I can get to New Hampshire’s state parks and natural areas.
  • Democrats support policies that protect land  water  and air (not exactly going out on a limb).  The plan includes support for policies that address the threat of climate change and pollution.
  • Energy challenges and opportunities  are interspersed throughout the jobs, transportation and rural development planks of the Democratic Platform. Energy is limited to the tax plank in the GOP Platform (and tagged therein as a cost to lower, not a resource to conserve or to leverage for jobs and rural prosperity).

Neither party in New Hampshire is taking the environment seriously today; more than ever, ideology trumps public service.

Understanding the above, I decided to respond to GOP Chairwoman Jennifer Horn when she called the League of Conservation Voters “extremist” and “radical”:

Letter: Horn is wrong about conservation group

Printed in the Concord Monitor Friday, February 14, 2014

Regarding the Monitor’s Feb. 5 editorial (“On Keystone pipeline, Shaheen had it right”), New Hampshire Republican Party Chairwoman Jennifer Horn has it wrong about the League of Conservation Voters.

I worked for LCV from 1986 to 1993 (living and working in New Hampshire), and as national field director responsible for executing endorsements of the board, including these LCV-endorsed conservatives: Rhode Island Sen. John Chafee, Maine Sen. William Cohen and New Hampshire Congressman Chuck Douglas. Each held records of environmental leadership in Washington.

Public servants are more valuable than party standard-bearers when seeking solutions to intractable environmental problems. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen is a public servant willing to apply conservative and progressive solutions on a case-by-case basis. She wrote the only bipartisan energy bill in the past five years, co-sponsored by Sen. Kelly Ayotte. Shaheen brings opposing sides together, a tactic almost never embraced by the opposing sides, yet effective in forging durable approaches that in the end protect our environment.

Horn ought to at least read her party’s 2012 post-mortem: the Growth and Opportunity Project (self-described as an honest review of the 2012 election cycle and a path forward for the Republican Party to winning more elections). The GOP report acknowledges that the party lost youth by wide margins in 2012, and that younger voters are increasingly put off by the GOP. Young voters soundly reject the false choice between prosperity and action on climate change. Republicans should not write off environmentalists. Republicans can reach many environmentalists – provided they bring conservative ideas to the table. I have yet to see evidence that Horn is doing so.

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