Senate and House Republicans on Wednesday launched the Roosevelt Conservation Caucus as part of a congressional effort to conserve America’s environment, wildlife, and natural resources.
“From a Republican point of view, I think we need to showcase that we care about conservation, we care about the environment, and we have innovative solutions that are not top-down regulatory solutions,” said caucus Co-Chair Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) at a press conference Wednesday.
“We believe that our friends on the other side care about the environment, but they care so much that they’re going to destroy the economy in the name of saving the environment — that is a false choice,” he added. “I’m tired of playing defense on the environment.”
“Simply put, we believe in innovation when it comes to solving environmental problems, not regulation. We believe you can have a healthy environment and still fly a plane and eat a hamburger,” he said, slamming Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY)’s Green New Deal proposal.
“Our friends on the other side have presented extreme solutions that will not help the environment but destroy the economy,” he said. “You really don’t have to ground all the airplanes and kill all the cows. Our friends on the other side are more alarmist than they are solution-based.”
“There’s not one Republican that’s going to vote for anything that’s coming out of the Green New Deal because it’s crazy economics,” he added.
America is the “solution, not the problem” when it comes to carbon emissions, he said. “I wish China and India were doing what we’re doing. We’re lowering carbon emissions by allowing the private sector to come up with technology that the consumer wants.”
Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT) echoed Graham. “I believe as Republicans, we need to lead on the issue of conservation. We have the solutions that will actually grow the economy and protect the environment …Those really go hand in hand.”
Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), who will also serve on the new caucus, touted a recent bipartisan lands bill that Republicans helped shape and pass 92-8. “We have an opportunity to lead.”
“The Roosevelt Conservation Caucus is about leadership. It’s about environmental leadership. It’s about conservation,” said Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO), another member. “[It’s] about projecting the majesty of this great United States.”
Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC), who has said he is retiring in 2022, said, “I hope it’s going to be a mission of the Roosevelt Caucus to keep reminding America and legislators that what we set aside we set aside for the use of the American people.”
“The number one thing I work on everyday is water back home, because that is what people care about,” said Rep. Brian Mast (R-FL), an Army combat veteran. But he added, “Somebody can’t worry about the energy efficiency of their home if they’re worried about where their next meal comes from.”
“I look forward to being a valuable member of this,” said Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI).
Rep. Will Hurd (R-TX) said, “I’m looking forward to working with this group and making sure that our national parks, our environment’s around for another 100 years.”
“Energy efficiency is something this group all supports. Teddy Roosevelt supported it. Again, market-based approach saying, ‘Yes, we want to use the energy we have but we want to use it more efficiently,” Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) said.
Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) said, “While our differences in this town do matter, nothing matters more than the fact that we all share the same planet. So I’m hopeful that we’ll be able to advance some of the solutions that don’t divide us but unite us.”
The launch of the caucus comes after President Trump delivered remarks at the White House on Monday on his administration’s environmental accomplishments.
Watch the full press conference of the caucus launch here: