By Angela Mann
Conserve and Conservation come from the same root word and that was the thread of David Jenkins’ message to Sparks Republican Women at its June dinner meeting.
Jenkins is President of Conservatives for Responsible Stewardship, and he came with an impressive list of credentials going back nearly two decades as he addressed Nevada’s 2018 Ballot Initiatives including the passage of Question 6.
Jenkins said his organization is committed to the stewardship and protection of our natural resources. Conservatism is being pushed aside for a lot of other thinking as even many on the right are peddling all sorts of ideologies, interests, and radical notions under the guise of conservation. The problem is people start losing sight of the real thing … and what is the real thing?
Jenkins said, “American Conservatives have always embraced:
- Property rights
- A strong national defense
- Merit-based accomplishments
- Personal responsibility
- Fiscal responsibility
“But at its core,” he continued, “conservatism is about being:
- Defending traditions
- Preserving values
- Leaving a better world for future generations
“That’s where stewardship comes in. President Reagan once rhetorically asked what is a conservative? Go all the way back to Abraham Lincoln who saved Yosemite Valley. Conservatives have been leaders in guarding the environmental. Theodore Roosevelt was America’s greatest conservation president. He’s responsible for most of our national forests, our wildlife refuge system, protecting the Grand Canyon and so much more.
“Other Republican presidents who followed Teddy Roosevelt,” he continued, “have good conservation records. Richard Nixon faced huge environmental problems that faced the nation in the 1960s and early ‘70s. Cities were choked with smog, rivers were catching fire, Lake Erie was a cesspool and America’s national symbol was on the brink of extinction. Nixon responded with many of our environmental laws including the Clean Water Act, Endangered Species Act, the National Environmental Policy Act … all of these passed Congress with overwhelming, bipartisan support. Nixon also established the Environmental Protection Agency.
“While he’s never gotten much love from environmental groups, President Reagan pushed through the successful environmental treaty in history. It’s called the Montreal Protocol. That phases out chemicals eating away at the Earth’s Ozone Layer. Not only did Reagan act on what he thought was stewardship obligation, he was also confident that American companies would rise to the occasion and provide the world with the replacement of chemicals that wereOzone safe.
“Reagan, as the governor of California, also played a big role in getting the Clean Air Act passed. The Bush 41 administration had a cap and trade to tackle the problem. Most environmental groups opposed that plan because they favored rigid top-down regulations. But over time it became obvious what the Bush approach was, their tune changed.”
Jenkins said Republicans have the stronger and more enduring environmental accomplishments. He then pivoted to energy and said that subject became politically polarized under Jimmy Carter’s presidency in the late 1970s. Carter even had solar panels installed on the White House. It was three decades later that good solar technology arrived.
“At the other end of the circuit is the talk radio which gets energy wrong,” he said. “I’m going to pick on Rush. Ever since he went on the air in the 1980s, Rush has criticized fuel energy standards which today are favored by more than 80 percent of the voters.” He said that Rush mocked people who drove Yugos as he contended auto makers were turning out death traps.
“Does anyone today think that holds true in the age of Prieus or Tesla or Chevy Volts? Before long that semi will be electric too because Kenworth, Tesla, Volvo and others are rolling out electric vehicles too. United Parcel Service has already ordered 125 Tesla semi trucks.
“Technology changes things and sometimes talking points need to change with new technology. They seem to have problems with the free market enterprises to adapt to new things. Some of these points are erroneous because they get them from special interest groups. Special Interests are always working overtime to shape our views, especially on energy policy.”
Jenkins next focused on Nevada and showed a map of the U.S. locating the best solar sites are in the U.S. – our Silver State – and Nevada is the “bulls eye” for geothermal. When it came to natural gas, Nevada has virtually no natural gas reserves while 70 percent of energy usage depends on natural gas. He said Nevadans are vulnerable to price increases even with nothing unusual happening on the world stage. Prices can be expected to double over the next 10-15 years.
“Solar is cheaper than natural gas. Geothermal comes in as less expensive. Solar is selling in Nevada for just over $21 per kW hour, half the north American average.” He continued that solar sites are installing battery storage for overnight energy storage.
“It’s important for us Republicans to be part of the solution. The solution? Diversify quickly with solar and geothermal through renewal energy standards. Question 6 would establish a 50 percent renewal energy standard by 2030 and typically would have to pass again next year to become law. Governor (Steve Sisolak) signed into law SB 358 which has the same ambition as Question 6 but now you have it done legislatively and is locked into the constitution.
“The great thing is this legislation passed unanimously with every single Republican voting for it. In the polarized political climate we have today, that’s an amazing accomplishment and made possible by energy knowledgeable Republicans. (State) Senator (Ira) Hansen on his website points out that Nevada is to solar and geothermal what the Middle East is to oil. On this important issue, Nevada Republicans were able to rise above the issue to do what is best for Nevada and that’s true leadership.
We need to see that conservative leadership at the national level too.”
Jenkins briefly addressed the Green New Deal saying that it’s supposed to be to address Climate Change but is a liberal wish list of social programs guaranteeing jobs and vacations while imposing wage and hour standards for every employer.