For a cleaner, more prosperous world, ACC mobilizes conservatives around environmental issues, fostering collaboration in the pursuit of environmental conservation.
From spending summer days on Lake Lanier to hiking mountainous trails, I have come to know and love the many natural wonders that North Georgia has to offer. I have spent my whole life here and don’t plan on leaving anytime soon. My strong roots here have led me to identify quite strongly with the lyrics to the Zac Brown Band’s song, “Chicken Fried.” Many a time I have belted the song’s verses, especially the one that says:
“Well I was raised beneath the shade of a Georgia pine, and that’s home you know. Sweet tea, pecan pie, and homemade wine, where the peaches grow…”
These lyrics offer a glimpse into the unique culture that predominates here in Georgia and in the South more generally. We emphasize family, faith, and a healthy dose of southern hospitality. These values translate into a deep reverence for our natural surroundings, a sentiment that is amplified by the South’s longstanding emphasis on agriculture. Watching my late grandfather tend to his sprawling garden, complete with tomatoes, muscadines, and more, taught me how delicate we humans must be with the land we inhabit and the nature that surrounds us.
All across my state there are landscapes worth protecting, from the Blue Ridge Mountains to the Coastal Plain. But throughout my upbringing, I never viewed conservation and environmental protection through a partisan lens, which goes against most everything we see in political discourse today.
As I became more educated on these subjects and learned of climate change in a high school environmental science class, I felt confused about where I truly stood on these issues. The research I conducted back then seemed to suggest that the party I had always identified with—the Republican Party—was either silent on or openly hostile to issues raised by climate change and environmental degradation. This led me to tell people when discussing politics that I was a Republican but liberal on environmental issues—whatever that meant.
Looking past my lack of awareness and extreme youth at that time, this description of my political views was emblematic of the larger trend of liberals dominating and conservatives abandoning the environmental conversation. Conservatives had fumbled the opportunity to offer their own alternatives so remarkably that someone like me had to claim I was liberal on environmental issues despite falling on the right side of the political spectrum quite comfortably.
Things changed drastically when I found a home with the American Conservation Coalition about two and a half years ago. For the first time, I discovered that conservatives can remain committed to climate change and conservation while holding true to their core principles. I was overcome with joy that I no longer needed to describe myself inaccurately as a Republican who is liberal on environmental issues. I can now say comfortably that I am a conservative who happens to believe that limited government, free markets, and innovation hold the key to addressing the challenge of our time: climate change.
During my time at ACC, I have watched the organization grow at an impressive rate and accomplish so much in such a short period of time. The American Climate Contract is the culmination of our efforts as an organization and provides a long overdue environmental platform that conservatives like me can support. Even a few years ago, seeing Republican lawmakers line up behind a conservative climate proposal would have seemed like satire as opposed to reality, but that old and tired narrative has changed.
The American Climate Contract offers an actionable and realistic alternative to the climate alarmism we too often see. Fortunately, I can kick back beneath my Georgia pine with a glass of sweet tea in hand knowing that a new era of limited government, conservative environmentalism lies ahead, and ACC will be leading the charge.
This is the final installment of “My Contract Story,” an ongoing series on the ACC Blog to tell personal stories of ACC team members and allies about why they support the American Climate Contract. Read previous editions here.