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Protect America First

Republicans can be environmental nationalists, and should be.

Exploring Grand Teton National Park
The dramatic Grand Teton Mountain Range is viewed from the Snake River Overlook (made famous by photographer Ansel Adams) on October 1, 2022, at Jackson Lake, Wyoming. (Photo by George Rose/Getty Images)

America has everything: fertile farmland, rolling mountain ranges, diverse climates, complex, sustainable ecosystems, and, on top of all of that, nearly unlimited natural resources, which have provided us with hundreds of years of historically unparalleled prosperity. Indeed, our land has always been one of this country’s greatest assets. Recognizing this is the essence of Republican conservationism—protecting and conserving this incredible environment that God created for us.

Theodore Roosevelt understood this. Perhaps the most well-known Republican conservationist, Roosevelt used more than 230 hundred million acres of public land to preserve and protect national forests, national game preserves, federal bird reserves, and to establish national monuments and national parks to boot.


Most Americans see value in defending our land and taking care of the environment. Polling consistently shows support for clean air and clean water. But Democrats in Washington don’t seem to care about our land, or about nature, or about our resources, in quite the same way Roosevelt did. Whenever they talk about their solutions, they tend to use euphemisms like “climate”—terms that usually end up meaning whatever Democrats want them to mean at that particular moment.

Take, for example, their proposals to ditch America's energy independence in favor of huge solar and wind “farms.” While they claim these proposals are necessary to save the planet, in reality they harm everything actually tangible about American land. They mar entire landscapes with their huge, imposing ugliness. They are a far less efficient use of our resources than nearly anything else you can think of, including drilling. They do, despite the left's mockery of President Trump for pointing it out, hurt local wildlife. They don't actually provide any reliable energy. They often break and, in the case of windmills especially, they're often not cost-effective to fix, and far too expensive for anybody to remove. In the case of solar panels, their components are usually imported straight from China, the world's largest polluter, whose manufacturing sector causes far more damage to nature than any solar panel here will ever be able to fix.

So what are the Democrats actually talking about? If you look at their ideas a little more, it becomes more clear. In every case, these plans end up being rewards for people Democrat leaders like, and punishments for people they don't like. Arizonans and Nevadans, for example, face huge water cuts, while California is prioritized and basically left untouched. Regular people are told that the rising cost of meat is a good thing for the earth and that they should be happy with plant and insect-based substitutes, while rich people are told they deserve a tax break for their $60,000 electric car. America has to swear off using any of her own natural resources, while corporations happily import from countries that use their natural resources, including China, which pollutes far more than any country in the history of the world.

Instead of giving handouts to rich Democrats and bad foreign actors, politicians should focus on safeguarding and utilizing America’s natural resources for the benefit of American citizens. If we are intent on offsetting carbon emissions, we should plant trees, which, unlike wind farms, actually help and beautify the places they are planted. If we care about litter, we should crack down on illegal immigration: according to the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ), more than 2,000 tons of trash are discarded at the Arizona border every year. If this were really about finding new sources of energy, why would we leave nuclear power off the table entirely when it is the only proven, reliable, non-fossil fuel option in existence?

And if we care about dirty manufacturing practices, why not start by looking at our imports from China? China can no longer claim to be a struggling developing nation that desperately needs to industrialize. Americans shouldn't accept costly environmental regulations on our own industries while China is left to profit with impunity.

That’s why we need a border carbon adjustment (BCA) tariff, specifically one that targets enemies of America such as China. A BCA tariff would tax carbon-intensive imports like aluminum, coal, iron, petroleum, and steel, which would help reduce carbon emissions while also providing a competitive advantage for American producers. Out of all the different ways American policymakers could choose to combat climate change, why not embrace a solution like a BCA tariff that puts America First?

Unfortunately, establishment Washington politicians—especially of the Democrat variety—don’t really care about solving problems. They don’t want to save American land. They don’t want to tap into American resources and bring back good-paying American jobs from overseas. They simply want to seize more power. It's why all of their so-called "climate solutions" include a wholesale takeover of society. The earth will burst into flames, they argue, unless we give Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez the keys to the entire economy.

This is deeply unfortunate, because there is certainly a lot we can do together to protect America and a lot of room for bipartisan policy agreement. Republican and Democrat voters alike are extremely concerned about the way our politicians have been mismanaging our natural resources. We don’t want to squander away what has always been one of America’s best assets. And we certainly don’t want to leave our children a land, an economy, a society, and a culture uglier than what was left for us by previous generations.