Jim DiPeso, the policy director for Republicans for Environmental Protection (and one of our guests for the hour on Thursday), likes to point out that his group often prompts double-takes. As he joked in a speech a few years ago, it sounds “like the world’s funniest oxymoron.”
But he’s serious: “Our mission is to restore the Republican Party’s conservation tradition, to encourage and cajole the Republican Party into taking more responsible positions on environmental issues.” Conservation, he argues, is conservative.
And he’s pretty fired up. We called Jim after John McCain’s convincing wins on Super Tuesday because we were wondering if some kind of political shift is afoot. McCain, after all, is perhaps the most outspoken Republican on climate change. He’s led congressional trips to Antarctica, Greenland, and Alaska — the last one with Hillary Clinton as a traveling companion — and he hasn’t been afraid to bring up the unpopular topic even in states like Michigan where it may have lost him a primary. But the real question is whether we’re watching simply the striking but limited transition from George W. Bush to John McCain as titular head of the Republican party or evidence of a broader seismic shift within the party itself.
Jim DiPeso seems to think it’s the latter… or at least the beginning of that seismic shift. And so does State Senator Jason Atkinson (R-Central Point), another guest for the hour. You may remember Atkinson from his gubernatorial run. But perhaps you also remember him as a co-sponsor of the Oregon Renewable Energy Act, which mandated that 25% of all energy sold in Oregon be from renewable sources by 2025.
What about you? Do you see a shift? Do you welcome it? Are you a part of it? Or do you see this as mere green-washing?
- Jim DiPeso: Policy Director of Republicans for Environmental Protection
- Jason Atkinson: State Senator in the 2nd District
- Ivan Maluski: Organizer of Sierra Club of Oregon