Republicans Were Super Pro-Environment, So What Happened? | AJ+

The Republican Party is not known for championing environmental causes. President Trump believes climate change is a hoax. Trump administration has announced plans to gut the Endangered Species Act. But today’s open hostility towards green policies wasn’t always the Republican way. I think younger people might be surprised to know that the Republican Party has not historically been opposed to environmental protection or to conserving wild spaces and natural resources. In fact, much of the framework for environmental and conservationist policies today was laid down by the GOP. Take the United States Forest Service for example. It was set up by Republican President Theodore Roosevelt in 1905 to protect wildlife and public lands. During his presidency, Roosevelt protected approximately 230 million acres of public land. And some of the most vast and far-reaching environmentally friendly policies that fundamentally changed America were enacted by this guy. Yes, that’s right. Richard Nixon, the president better known for this: One year of Watergate is enough. And this: People have got to know whether or not their president’s a crook. Well I’m not a crook. Nixon achieved some of the biggest green accomplishments of any modern American president leaving an impressive record when it came to implementing policies to protect the environment. He was from California and his base was in souther California that had seen smog So he knew that politics and he knew how bad the smog and pollution could get Nixon’s administration with the help of a Democratic Congress Passed many environmental initiatives From institutional reform to pollution control He was an institution builder at the federal level. I mean one of the big changes that happened in his tenure as president was that environmental regulation and pollution and public health, environmental health It was moved up to the federal level because the states weren’t doing a good enough job. It was an extraordinary example of cooperation between Republicans and Democrats. All those laws were passed on a bipartisan basis People would be surprised to know, with overwhelming support from both parties. What’s most notable is it wasn’t especially controversial You know, you’ve got Republican members of Congress supporting clean air, clean water, trying to do something about toxic waste, and you have Republican presidents signing the bills. This is almost impossible to think about nowadays. Environmentalism had become a big concern for the American people in the late 60s and early 70s. In all too many parts of America, it’s becoming more and more difficult to find breathable air, drinkable water. They had witnessed a devastating oil leak in Santa Barbara, California, and rampant pollution in other parts of the country. New Yorkers learned about it at first hand when freak weather conditions in July trapped poisonous fumes just above the city. Environment was kind of a unifying issue. It was an issue where Republicans such as him, they also thought that, you know, we needed clean water, that pollution was a really big concern. In 1968, Nixon created the Task Force on Environment. And Congress was also doing its part. It approved one of the first laws to establish a national framework for environmental protection. The National Environmental Policy Act of 1969. The purpose of the Act was, and is to this day, to make sure the government conducts assessments before it begins any federal projects that significantly affect the environment. That includes construction of airports, buildings and military complexes. But in 1970, Nixon proposed something that would change the way the government dealt with the environment: he submitted to Congress a plan to set up the Environmental Protection Agency, (the EPA). Each chapter contains specific recommendations by the counsel for strengthening our attack on environmental problems. Both Nixon and Congress were on a roll They passed the Clean Air Act in 1970, in order to tackle air pollution and set standards for what type of air pollutants can be released In 1972, Nixon signed the Clean Water Act to regulate water quality. The Act also made it illegal to discharge pollutants into navigable waters without a permit. And it wasn’t just environmental legislation that Nixon was signing. In 1973, he approved The Endangered Species Act. The Act granted the government powers to protect species at risk of extinction. Of course, whether Nixon was genuinely passionate about saving the environment is up for debate. He was kind of pushed into it a little bit. He might not have done it had he not had a Democratic Congress and as well as environmentally-informed advisers to steer him that direction. But whether it was political calculation or a personal passion for the environment that drove Nixon’s green policies, , the fact remains that a Republican president supported laws that have significantly changed the lives of Americans. Clean air and clean water, the wise use of our land, the protection of wildlife and natural beauty, parks for all to enjoy… these are part of the birthright of every American. So…what happened? It’s really the more recent Republican administrations and the more recent Republican members of Congress, I’d say in the last 20 to 30 years, that have really rolled back environmental protection. And during this period the more recent period, environmental protection and especially climate change have become deeply partisan issues. And then, in 1981, a new president takes office guided by a free-market ideology innately hostile to government regulation. What happens is Reagan comes in. Along with him are opponents of environmental protection through regulation. What President Reagan did, which really set back environmental protections, he appointed a secretary of the Interior and an administrator of the EPA who were essentially opposed to the missions of those agencies. Reagan appointed Anne Gorsuch who, keep in mind, didn’t like the EPA, to lead the EPA. And for two years they do what they can to curb it, to dismantle it. I mean, Anne Gorsuch took apart the whole enforcement division at the EPA. They proposed massive cuts in EPA and other environmental agencies Watt wanted to open up all these federal lands to the oil drillers and the grazers and so forth. The environmental programs managed to survive some blows by the Reagan administration in large part due to pushback from Congress. The Senate belonged to the Republicans, but the House was a blue majority. Both Watts and Gorsuch eventually left. Reagan’s next appointments were more friendly to the environmental agencies. The preservation of our environment is not a partisan challenge, it’s common sense. But what happens during the Reagan administration the embrace of anti-statism and a strong dislike for big government. And from there, the Republican party starts going through a bit of a metamorphosis. I wouldn’t say it’s been a kind of linear road where of Republicans suddenly decided you know, on mass that they didn’t care about the environment I think that what’s happened over time is a combination of things One is this sort of embrace of deregulation generally in the Republican Party I would say environmental protection was part of the deregulatory moment in the Reagan administration. And it’s part of an anti-federal government era which Reagan of course ushered in when he said: Government is not the solution to our problem. Government is the problem. Conservative think tanks and corporations also started getting involved. Since the 1990s more than two-thirds of contributions from the oil and gas industry have gone to Republican candidates and party committees. Another thing that changed? The other is a kind of loss of moderate Republicans in the House and in the Senate. And the loss of that species of Republican means that you have much more extreme Republicans. And there’s kind of a similar dynamic happening over time in the Democratic Party where you see a divergence between your average Republican and your average Democrat, which makes bipartisan law very hard to pass. It may come as a surprise to know that one Republican president that was surprisingly moderate and bipartisan when it came to the environment was George H. W. Bush. If we believe every American expects and deserves clean air, and then we act on that belief. H. W. Bush actually should be known and given credit for being quite an environmental president. He signed the most important revision of the Clean Air Act since it was originally passed in 1970, and it included a system for dealing with the problem of acid rain, which was destroying lakes and forests. The first ever market trading scheme for issuing allowances to pollute, but creating a scheme to buy and sell those allowances as a kind of market mechanism for controlling air pollution. And then in the George W. Bush era, we saw really a period of, again, retrenchment. He pulled out of the Kyoto Protocol, which was the international agreement on climate change at the time. But what really intensifies the partisan battle is: climate change. It sort of creeps into consciousness as an issue, and it only becomes a really compelling issue that the public becomes familiar with in the late 90s and early 2000s Clearly to me, this climate change issue is one of the principal challenges that we face. A challenge that, should we fail to meet it, could imperil the lives of our children and if not our children, our grandchildren. By that point it becomes clear that this is going to be a very partisan issue because climate change is about the energy system. You know, it’s about oil and gas, and how we fuel our electricity and how we fuel our transportation. And suddenly it becomes clear that this is going to be something the parties divide over. Jody Freeman was also a counselor for energy and climate change during the Obama presidency in 2009. After taking office, Obama attempted to get a comprehensive climate and energy bill passed. But what Freeman and Obama found was that it’s not just about convincing the other party about the importance of implementing extensive climate change policies. It’s about convincing your own too. Even though it was a Democratic Congress for the first two years of the Obama administration, that new legislation could not get through. And that’s because energy and climate change are not clearly just Republican and Democratic issues, people don’t vote just based on party. They vote based on where their state is positioned in terms of what kind of resources they have. Are they a coal state? Are they a wind state? Are they a state that’s rich in renewables or a state that has oil and gas? So, it;s very hard to get support even when you , your party, controls the Congress. Once the midterm election happened, the Democrats lost control of the Congress. And so there was no way a climate change legislation was going to get done. The Trump administration has made a targeted effort to roll back Obama’s legislations and efforts to combat climate change. The impact of these rollbacks could have detrimental consequences. The Republican Party went from this: There is no disagreement with regard to the need for all nations to cooperate, share their knowledge and their brains in cleaning up the environment of the world. To this: As someone who cares deeply about the environment, which I do, I cannot in good conscience support a deal that punished the United States which is what [the Paris Agreement] does. We’ve lost our leadership role in the international community on these issues, and the international community’s really startled and disappointed that the U.S. has disappeared on many other diplomatic issues. There’s no question that this is a moment of complete retrenchment on climate change and clean energy policy

Comments 78

  • Be sure to check out our channel and hit that subscribe button for new videos every Tuesday and Sunday!

  • Teddy was not conservative tho

  • One word: Lobbyists.

  • Uploaded again ?

  • reupload?

  • SMH (Shaking My Head)

  • They realized that the so called "environmental solutions" are a bunch of overpriced waste of resources and caused zero change in saving our planet. That's what happened.

  • so Reagan is the real crook instead of Nixon. Reagan started the downfall of the superpower

  • When you keep throwing money at pseudo science makes it harder to pay for the real thing. The government is infamous for wasting cash on useless shit.

  • Back then America was United today is more divided than ever just like the Roman Empire before 8…
    And now with the two parties nothing's getting done pure bull crap that's what's going on..

  • Its not that the Republicans choose to be on the right. Democrats moves so much to the right, that it made Republicans insane.

  • democrat always giving credit for stuuf their were not really part of.

  • “Tides go in, tides go out, you can’t explain that.”

  • Nancy Pelosi along with other establishment Democrats have still not banned fossil fuel money so DEMOCRATS should be held accountable as well. #BanFossilFuels

  • What basically happened was oil and gas industry won by giving a ton of money to politicians

  • How is it that a crook that Nixon is, is still much less ignorant than most republicans are today. Its sad for you Americans that even something like environmental issues could be politicised.

  • 2019 They are #1 Untouchable War CRIMINALS ORGANIZATIONS Politicians Military Industrial Complex Leaders around the globe world wide ? it doesn't matter what Party ? ??

  • If you're not affected by the problem it doesn't mean there is no problem…..


  • follow the money and you'll find out why environmental policy isn't happening today

  • Lobbyists shouldn't be able to lobby with any tool except for information. No money. Any member of the government who receives money from a lobbyist or a corporation should be stripped of their position and or charged with treason for betraying their constituents and their country. That simple.

  • Yeah man Nixon sure did “help” the people of Cambodia/Vietnam and their environment when he went out of his way to drop more bombs then what was used in the entire Second World War, and then also dumping a shit ton of agent orange all over the landscape of both countries.

    But yeah let’s not focus on that because Nixon, he passed the clean air act. Yah. Nixon was great. Woo.

  • 55 million dollars hit the group…
    taken $55 million in donations according to an Oil Change analysis—gridlock will continue as the timeframe to address the worst impacts of climate change continues to shrink.

  • We need less government not more !!!! The government isn't the solution it's the problem tired of Washington !!!!

  • It went wrong with protecting Russia investment.

  • But Republicans also believe in just letting Capitalism rip, they believe in total free market Capitalism. Thats why any environmentalist credentials they had couldn't last. Because Capitalism is based on unnatural selfishness, that is the driving force behind it and it leads to too insane a drive for more and more profit which comes about by producing too many things we don't need,and that's where the extra pollution comes in, through over production to chase those extra profits because of the insane drive to more and more so too as Capitalism goes further and further down its right wing path..If you believe in total free market Capitalism you cant be a good friend of the environment because Capitalism like that automatically is worse for the environment because of the insane drive for profit which causes overproduction.

  • That was long time ago.. not now. Republican now getting worst..heading to destruction of the world.

  • What can you say about people who deliberately give over 500,000 children idiopathic asthma? They say climate change is a lie but never say why making people breathe foul air and doing all in your power to make the air and water more toxic is a good idea beyond making billions in profits for billionaires. To add insult to injury trump now will take health care away from most of those unnecessary and preventable victims of asthma. Nice.

  • How far the Republican party has fallen. ? Reagan and HW Bush (who openly attacked then-VP candidate Al Gore for his environmentalism) For shame.

    Climate change is real and we ALL need to fix it… which we can. ??♻️

  • Now it's the party of the death cult of evangelicals. Sanity went over a cliff a while ago.

  • Oh and they're bought.

  • Neil McGill Gorsuch is an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. Gorsuch is the son of Anne Gorsuch Burford, a Colorado House of Representatives member who was later appointed by President Ronald Reagan to be the first female Administrator of United States Environmental Protection Agency in 1981.


  • Okay yes the politicians are corrupt now but this anti climate thing isn’t just among politicians anymore, lots of people are buying into it. Sad, I honestly hope humans just die off at this point.

  • 'so what happened'?
    money, greed and ignorance!

  • The name you are looking for is Ronald Reagan.

  • Campaign finance is the root of the rot.

  • Doesn't matter anymore more!!????Rump doesn't Care, he took away the protection for national parks and dem put it back the Republicans just voted down in the Senate the green new deal. Sorry EPA is deregulating. Have a nice day

  • I'm conservative (not necessarily republican though I do tend to vote that way) and the environment has always been one of my biggest concerns. I think most republicans would agree the environment is important (even if they don't believe in climate change), but they just disagree on what to do about it. The green new deal was a really weird bill that: a) wasn't realistic and didn't explain how it would accomplish it's goals, and b) wrapped in many non-environmental related issues like healthcare and welfare for those unwilling to work for some reason. What we need to do is educate people on why they shouldn't be afraid of nuclear energy. I also think more people should take it upon themselves to invest in solar panels and electric cars if they can, but it's not the governments place to mandate that in any way.

  • GOP is all bought and paid for by lobbyists. Honest conservatives need to reform the party!

  • The republican party has lost its soul.

  • American Republicans are so poor, all they have are fear (and the empathy it kills) and greed (also roots in fear).

  • We elected the corporate shill, Reagan and so began the death of individual liberty……and the worship of the 1% scum….by what's become the russopublican party.

  • We just talk and talk, let's go protest and vote those mother f*ckers out!

  • republican politicians died out long ago. Just oil company dogs running now.

  • فعلا انه ترمب مفسد في الارض


  • It's like the left has been fighting this whole time trying to remind Republicans who they was. Mass apparent amnesia!?(joking)

  • Being "environmental" comes at a cost and isn't always economically feasible. And, as usual, liberals want to pass on this cost to other people. They love using other people's money to fund their projects.

  • It is weird that
    And now republicans call these things Leftist and Socialism

  • Oil money

  • No, we just don't take credit for it. George Bush Senior designated much of California's coastline a National Park. In addition, he signed into law a 20 year moratorium on oil drilling off of the California Coast. Arnold halted farming in the San Joquin Valley in the attempt to protect the Delta Smelt. The San Joquin Valley once produced 20% of our nations vegetables. It's funny how 70% of America's most poluted cities are run by Liberals. 8 out of the top ten most poluted cities in America are in California. You're a bunch of obtuse morons who thrive on people's ignorance.

  • Why are the republicans so anti-enviroment? Idk why are the top 39 of 40 fossile fuel money takers in Congress Republican?
    It's almost as if the allowing of money in politics made corruption legal or something…

  • Things change, Republicans change, and now they are planetary rapists.

  • They don't mention that the general base of the two major parties essentially swapped platforms during the 20th century over ideas of African American identity, immigration, and citizenship rights. It was less to do with a change in policy direction, and more to do with demographics and geographical location. The South was once the blue bastion of the Democrats until the New Deal was introduced post WWI expanding federal oversight, and later when Pres. Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act into law in 1964. This divided the country regionally instead of by party, with northerners of both parties approving of giving blacks the right to vote, and southerners of both parties renouncing the move. Because the Democrats became the party that advocates for people of colour, blacks, hispanics and other non-white immigrants aligned with them, while white Democrats of the south changed party allegiance to the Republicans, which is still largely true today.

    These policies of environmental conservation and national parks services were an expansion of government control, an unappealing notion by today's Republican standards, because back then, those Red States were in a completely different part of the country, both geographically and economically. Nixon being from the West Coast where highly progressive ideas on pollution control and emissions standards had a powerful hand in his decision to strengthen environmental laws. This was an era of rapid industrialization in America, and the visible evidence of pollution in air, water, and soil was obvious as public health declined and crime rates spiked. Protecting public health and simultaneously protecting America's natural resources and lands was a slam dunk on a 5 foot high basket guaranteeing him a second term. However, an expansive program like the Clean Water Act, the Clean Air Act, and the creation of the EPA is not politically viable to the party that preaches small government and state's rights, especially when those rights are intended to extend to EVERY American. But, of course, as we're seeing now, they're retracting those rights to a clean, livable environment to an exclusive few in order to provide an amenable space for industrial manufacturers and resource extracting companies – the very same sector that funds their campaigns and re-elections (see the graph at 07:53 ). My point is, if you are concerned with the lack of commitment to environmental causes and nature conservation, MOVE LEFT. Push for expansive policies that will reduce the ability of oil and natural gas to bribe their way into government policy, and support local initiatives to crack down on those who are flagrantly breaking the scant environmental protection laws we still have.

  • They were bought by Israel.

  • I am glad that you also pointed out that Democrats are very much on par with Republicans in this respect. Oil and gas are bipartisan issues. Both parties listen to the big energy companies. They are also both beholden to the military industrial complex.

    It is very interesting to see that Nixon was such an environmentalist. I have never heard that about Nixon.

    Surely southeast Asia's environment is worse off after Nixon's tenure though.

  • dang this video is clean… i really like the beat at 6:08 at 2 times speed as well 😛

  • I honestly have a hard time buying into the Climate Change is real religion after reading Nicola Tesla's biography and understanding how HAARP works and how they can intensify local weather phenomena like hurricanes, storms, earthquakes and even droughts. 

    If they can send out pulses of energy to intensify the weather then are some of the major earthquakes with that kind of technology then it makes me really wonder how much of the freak weather related events are purely natural or if they are enhanced by the military industrial complex.

    I am writing this from my solar powered off grid home in Canada by the way. I am pro renewable energy but I do not believe in the story that Al Gore tells

  • Haven't watched the video, but I'd just say OIL MONEY!

  • Why? Because the GOP became more corrupted with money flowing into their pockets from interest groups! That’s why!

  • I can answer that with one character: $

  • Protect the one earth we have. That's all folks 🙂

  • Southern Strategy is why the Republicans changed, less to do with anything else.

  • Back when Republicans USED to be "Liberals"!

  • All you need to know is Republicans party today is put big cash in their pocket from lobbyists so they can survive. Simple right!!!

  • This is why we need to abolish the 2 party system. People need to learn to think abd decide based in independent thought rather than having political parties.

  • Teddy Roosevelt was also a founding feminist. He was a real man, not scared of shit. Unlike the frightened conservatives of today.

  • One word"Reagan"

  • MONEY is what its all about just look at your big money people and corporations and lobbists and see how every thing is manipulated on every level

  • climate change and pollution control are separate issues. it's not fair to lump them together.

  • Last pro-Green Repub today Arnold Scwarzennegar!!!

  • "it's all about the benjamins, baby." – It's All About the Benjamins (feat. The Notorious B.I.G., Lil' Kim & the Lox).

  • Wouldn't it be great if Republicans were Super Pro-Constitution?

  • Republicans are resistant to the religion of environmentalism. They are a religious bunch and recognize dogma and guilt based sin when they see it.

  • Okay,but, the reason for these things is there was a strong Socialist / Communist movement that pushed Nixon towards supporting those policies.

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