Young people should naturally care about energy and environmental policy, because we will inherit an America shaped by the decisions made today. We are the party of traditional conservation – developing our God-given natural resources, preserving them for the future, and recognizing our moral obligation to be good stewards. In June 1984, at the dedication ceremonies for the New Building of the National Geographic Society, Ronald Reagan remarked, “What is a conservative after all but one who conserves, one who is committed to protecting and holding close the things by which we live…And we want to protect and conserve the land on which we live — our countryside, our rivers and mountains, our plains and meadows and forests. This is our patrimony. This is what we leave to our children. And our great moral responsibility is to leave it to them either as we found it or better than we found it.”
We support an all of the above, “Made in America” energy policy, because diversified domestic energy production of coal, oil, natural gas, nuclear, biofuels, wind and solar power will allow us to control our energy future. Our country is blessed with abundant natural resources that can be responsibly developed to reduce our reliance on imports to meet our needs, and there is an impending North American oil and gas boom that will help drivers strapped by higher fuel prices, strengthen our economy and provide strategic flexibility abroad. Energy independence leads to national security, since lowering our current over-dependence on foreign energy sources from unstable parts of the world will lead to less constrained foreign policy options and fewer foreign entanglements. Today’s purchases of foreign energy put us in the position of funding both sides of the war against terrorism, and subject our economy to a foreign cartel, where arbitrary price spikes can prompt recession. Keeping our energy spending here at home, with a strong domestic energy sector that creates jobs and boosts manufacturing, has an added benefit of lowering prices for all working families and businesses.
We believe that free market forces and consumers will separate the economically viable winners from the losers in the energy development marketplace, and we believe that federal energy subsidies should be eliminated since they allow the government to interfere with this marketplace. We must lead the global competition for clean and renewable energy markets and technologies, and federal energy policy should encourage private investment to improve efficiency primarily, without mandating a “cap-and-trade” program and overregulation of emissions that are already falling in this country.
We oppose any efforts to wage an unnecessary “war on coal”, a cheap and abundant resource that represents our largest source of electricity. Besides just ourselves, developing nations need this cheap energy to climb out of poverty, and taking it out of the equation will drive up prices for everything. We encourage the pursuit of onshore and offshore oil and natural gas resources, by opening new areas for exploration and production and allowing new technologies, like hydraulic fracturing (fracking) that makes gas supplies more accessible. We would immediately approve the Keystone XL Pipeline, which would transport crude oil to refineries in the Gulf Coast, and would support tens of thousands of jobs during its construction.
We agree with Reagan that we have a moral responsibility to pass on clean air and water to future generations. Our party has a great legacy of conservation, with Ulysses S. Grant establishing the first national park and Benjamin Harrison establishing the first national forest. Good environmental and natural resource stewardship is a common sense, timeless, core conservative value; conservation and environmental protection are not exclusively liberal causes. We believe that a healthy environment and a sound economy are not mutually exclusive choices.
Agriculture is a fundamental part of the American economy, to feed our nation and the world. Specifically, Florida’s agriculture, natural resources and food industries provide a huge economic impact on our state, accounting for millions of jobs and ranking highly among other industries in contributing to our state’s economic production. We support cost-effective federal farm programs, but not a complete shift of risk from the farmer to the government. Spiraling federal crop insurance costs must be curtailed and programs that artificially drive up food prices should be repealed. We endorse eliminating most agriculture subsidies and letting market forces work.
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) now makes up about 80% of the Department of Agriculture’s budget, as federal financial assistance, distributed by the states, for purchasing food. Participation in this program has risen significantly during the current administration, as the economy has failed to improve enough and unemployment has remained too high. We support Republican legislative efforts to bifurcate the unrelated farm and nutrition programs, which have been joined together in the “farm bill” for more than three decades. We endorse reforms to convert SNAP into a work activation program that promotes self-sufficiency and personal responsibility while continuing to provide vital support to our fellow Americans who truly need a hand up.