The Conservative as Environmentalist: From Goldwater and the Early Reagan to the 21st Century

55 Pages Posted: 18 Feb 2017  

Daniel A. Farber

University of California, Berkeley - School of Law

Date Written: February 17, 2017

Abstract

Today, we often think of conservatives as opposed to environmental regulation. Yet it has not always been so. Conservative icons like William F. Buckley and Barry Goldwater took vigorous public stands in favor of environmental protection. Ronald Reagan championed protection of wilderness when he was governor of California and oversaw the creation of the state’s pollution control agency. He shifted to an anti-regulatory stance in the early years of his presidency, but then shifted again to a more moderate position. Few people know that he personally championed the international ozone agreement and signed a law to require planning for possible climate change. Even today, there are important conservative voices advocating environmental initiatives such as a carbon tax.

This Article recovers the forgotten history of conservative environmentalism. It argues that conservative environmentalism faded largely because of external political forces, such as the influence of the fossil fuel industry. These forces may be abating, opening the door for a more vigorous debate about environmental policy within the conservative movement and in the broader public arena.

Suggested Citation

Farber, Daniel A., The Conservative as Environmentalist: From Goldwater and the Early Reagan to the 21st Century (February 17, 2017). UC Berkeley Public Law Research Paper No. 2919633. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2919633

Daniel A. Farber (Contact Author)

University of California, Berkeley - School of Law ( email )

Boalt Hall
Room 894
Berkeley, CA 94720-7200
United States
510-642-0340 (Phone)
510-642-3728 (Fax)

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