The GOP’s Forgotten Greens

Yesterday's Presidents

Theodore Roosevelt (1901—1909)
No president has come close to Teddy Roosevelt’s record of conservation. He established the U.S. Forest Service and quadrupled the protected forestlands. He created 5 national parks, designated 51 bird reserves and 4 game preserves (precursors to the National Wildlife Refuge System), and signed into law the 1906 Antiquities Act, under which he proclaimed 18 national monuments. TR’s early years in North Dakota prompted him to say: "We have fallen heirs to the most glorious heritage a people ever received, and each one must do his part if we wish to show that the nation is worthy of its good fortune."

Dwight D. Eisenhower (1953—1961)
He was best known as a war hero, but among Dwight Eisenhower’s proudest achievements as president was setting aside one of the biggest undisturbed ecosystems left on Earth, 8.9 million acres of northeastern Alaska that is now part of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. In the summer of 2001, Ike’s granddaughter Susan spoke out at a Republicans for a Sound Energy Policy press conference in Washington, D.C., defending the Arctic Refuge from potential oil exploration in an effort to protect her grandfather’s great natural legacy.

Richard Nixon (1969—1974)
The infamous 37th president was a savvy politician who responded to Americans’ desire for a cleaner environment. Nixon encouraged and signed into law four landmark federal bills: The Clean Air Act, the National Environmental Policy Act, the Environmental Pesticide Control Act, and the Endangered Species Act. He established the Environmental Protection Agency and brought in environmental leaders to run it. Nixon’s not ready for eco-sainthood, though: Congress was forced to pass the Clean Water Act in 1972 over his veto.

Today’s Representatives

Nancy Johnson (Conn.)
A champion for the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Nancy Johnson cosponsored a House bill that would designate the coastal plain of the refuge as wilderness. The 11-term representative also works tirelessly to protect her western Connecticut home base, sponsoring legislation that would preserve the upper Housatonic River. Johnson has also cosponsored bills to protect wilderness in the northern Rockies, roadless areas in national forests, and Alaska’s rainforest; phase out snowmobiles in Yellowstone; clean up old power plants; and toughen efficiency standards for light trucks.

Sherwood Boehlert (N.Y.)
Serving his 11th term in Congress, Boehlert has been a champion of clean air, clean water, land conservation, and energy efficiency. Representing an upstate New York district, Boehlert scores in the League of Conservation Voters’ top tier of Republicans in the House. Boehlert cosponsored an amendment to the House energy bill to increase auto-efficiency standards, then bucked his party leaders to vote against the final energy package because of its harmful overall impacts. Boehlert is chair of the House Science Committee, with jurisdiction over the Department of Energy and the EPA.

Chris Shays (Conn.)
Representing southwestern Connecticut’s suburbs since 1987, Shays has a laudable record on clean water, clean air, and open space. Recently, Shays cosponsored the Clean Cruise Ships Act, which would protect coasts and coastal communities from cruise-ship pollution. (See "Lay of the Land," page 18.) In 2002, the League of Conservation Voters named Shays an "Environmental Champion," noting his work as co-chair of the Congressional Long Island Sound Caucus and his other efforts to protect waterways. Shays merited a lifetime voting record of 95 percent from the LCV.

Rob Simmons (Conn.)
In the House since 2000, Representative Simmons, a life member of the Sierra Club, earned a rating of 70 from the League of Conservation Voters in 2003, the fifth highest score for House Republicans. Representing Connecticut’s second district, Simmons voted against drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and attempts to weaken the Clean Air Act and the National Forest Management Act. He voted for unroaded wild areas in national forests, a moratorium on oil and gas development off the Outer Continental Shelf, and upholding the ban on snowmobiles in Yellowstone.

Today’s Senators

Susan Collins (Maine)
A second-term senator from Maine, Susan Collins has consistently voted to protect the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge from oil drilling and to raise vehicle fuel-economy standards. This spring, Collins joined a bipartisan coalition criticizing the Bush administration's inadequate plan to reduce mercury emissions. In November, Collins voted against the Bush administration on an energy bill conference report that the League of Conservation Voters considered among the most anti-environmental pieces of legislation in recent history. For 2003, the LCV gave Collins a rating of 68 percent.

Lincoln Chafee (R.I.)
In the Senate only since late 1999, Lincoln Chafee has emerged as a strong conservation leader, following the "temperate Republican" footsteps of his father, John, who served four terms. The younger Chafee voted against drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and for renewable energy portfolio standards and stronger fuel-economy standards. This spring, he was one of eight Republican senators to join a bipartisan coalition that criticized the Bush administration's weak proposal to regulate mercury emissions. In 2002, REP America named Chafee an Environmental Hero.

Olympia Snowe (Maine)
Now in her second term as senator from Maine, Olympia Snowe has worked to raise air-quality and fuel-economy standards, improve public health, and bring discussion of climate change to the forefront. Snowe is a tireless defender of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, most recently helping to stop the Bush administration’s plan to include revenue from arctic drilling in its 2005 budget. Last fall, the League of Conservation Voters presented Snowe with its 2003 Environmental Leadership Award; her voting record for the year was a respectable 74 percent.