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Environmental Stewardship

Conservatives care about clean air, clean water, and protection of the environment. However, unlike radical environmentalism, conservative environmentalism seeks ways to improve the environment that are grounded in reality and geared toward improving human lives, rather than grounded in unattainable goals and geared toward protecting nature from the scourge of humanity.

Radical environmentalism devalues human life by equating its value with the existence of plants, animals, and even inanimate objects like soil and water. In radical environmentalism, the enemies of the environment are: (1) religious views on nature and man’s place in it, (2) free market economies where people, rather than government policies, make most of the economic decisions, and (3) people’s choice to have large families. In other words, for radical environmentalism people are the problem, and government is the solution.

For conservative environmentalism, on the other hand, people are the solution to environmental problems. It is people running businesses in the free market who will find innovative new ways of doing things to reduce costs and conserve natural resources. It is people in families, religious groups, or other community organizations working responsibly together who will decrease air and water pollution caused by human activities. It is people with a vested interest in their private property who will protect land and other resources from environmental destruction.

So what?

Because radical environmentalism views people and their choices as the environmental problem, and seeks an unattainable outcome as its environmental goal, it leads to policies that use government to control people’s lives and choices. This often means:

  • Less freedom as government seeks to control even the smallest decisions of individuals and families, such as what kind of light bulbs they will buy
  • Fewer economic opportunities as government attempts to restrict economic activity outside of politically favored, “eco-friendly” industries, with an especially harmful impact on low-income families
  • Wasted taxpayer dollars as government pushes the latest environmental fad, which often ends up doing more harm to the environment than good once it is properly analyzed

What can we do about it?

Utah should remain a leader in bringing together government, private businesses and environmental advocates to agree on reasonable environmental protections that will not destroy new job opportunities and economic growth. Further, government in Utah should continue to establish reasonably attainable air and water quality rules and then get out of the way of entrepreneurs in the free market, so that they can meet those rules in the most cost-effective way. These measures will ensure that environmental policy promotes both a clean environment and economic prosperity.

Utah families and businesses can participate in voluntary environmental initiatives, such as Governor Herbert’s Utah Clean Air Partnership (UCAIR) initiative. This will make certain that Utahns are being wise and responsible stewards of the environment.

Dig Deeper

Policy Paper: Getting the Environment Right: Conservative Environmentalism

Blog: Energy and conservative environmentalism

Blog: The reasonable road to a clean environment: Avoiding policy potholes

Policy Paper: A Brief History of Land Use in Utah

Earth Week Presentations:

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