Joining Hands Across Party Lines

The Conservation Leadership Council of the Environmental Defense Fund

If we want real action on energy and climate change, conservatives have to be part of the effort. Major environmental laws such as the Clean Air Act, Endangered Species Act, and National Environmental Policy Act never would have been enacted had they not had strong Republican support.

By working for bipartisan, market-friendly environmental solutions, the CLC initiative is bringing conservatives back into the environmental movement.

More recently, many conservatives have given the environmental movement the cold shoulder. But the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) is reaching out to bring conservative thinkers and policy-makers back into the conversation. In 2011 the EDF launched the Conservation Leadership Council (CLC), an action-oriented partnership that works with green conservatives in the highest levels of government, business, and advocacy organizations.

The Council is headed by two former Cabinet members from the George W. Bush Administration, Gale Norton, formerly Secretary of the Interior, and Ed Schafer, a former Secretary of Agriculture and past Governor of North Dakota. They are leading the group’s work to develop and advocate visionary environmental solutions that are in keeping with conservative principles, such as market-based approaches and public-private partnerships. The Council also produces research showing how climate change puts business at risk, and how industries stand to benefit from pro-environmental policies.

Even before creating the Council, the EDF was working for market-based policies to reduce energy use and polluting emissions. For example, it co-sponsored California’s Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, a landmark bill that set a statewide limit on greenhouse gas emissions and established a cap-and-trade program that rewards companies for reducing pollution levels faster than their peers. The CLC initiative takes those efforts to a new level.

Our Role

We made a $100,000 grant to help the EDF establish the Conservation Leadership Council as an ongoing entity.

Why This Grant

We strongly believe that good environmental policy can be good for the economy, too, so supporting the EDF’s initiative was a natural for us. We also favor efforts that have a high probability of producing meaningful action. EDF’s approach and track record put it squarely in that category.