CRES is very pleased to work with the American Conservation Coalition (ACC), a national, nonprofit grassroots organization led by conservative college students who are committed to educating fellow millennials about conservation, stewardship, and free-market ideals. The ACC deserves applause for its remarkable growth in just one year, from its founding shortly after the 2016 election by 19-year-old Benji Backer, to a significant presence in about 20 states today.
“As I was sitting in my environmental entrepreneurship class at the University of Washington a year ago today, I started to think about the environmental movement and the polarization within it. I thought about the radical ideas and misconceptions that had dominated the environmental movement for the past few decades,” Backer wrote in a recent blog post. “Even more so, I thought about how Americans had felt left behind on these issues.”
While the ACC’s platform extends beyond clean energy, their views closely align with those of CRES. The ACC states that their positions are rooted in conservative principles such as free-market reforms and economic growth. Additionally, the ACC supports policies that make sense at both the state and federal level.
The ACC’s emergence couldn’t have been at a better time than now. This past summer, CRES sponsored a poll that found that 65 percent of likely Republican voters ages 18-45 favor the government taking steps to reduce carbon dioxide and methane emissions.
In September, the ACC participated in the first annual National Clean Energy Week (NCEW), partnering with five campus chapters to host events highlighting the impact clean energy is making at the local level. Using NCEW as a lever, Backer and Catrina Rorke of R-Street co-authored an op-ed featured in Red Alert calling attention to the work of elected officials to on campus efforts.
More recently, the ACC has been on a media blitz spreading their ideas on outlets such as CNBC and Townhall. They also maintain a well-written and up-to-date blog. Next month, the ACC will be presenting at Turning Point USA’s Student Action Summit 2017, which will take place in West Palm Beach, Florida. In 2018, the ACC hopes to form a separate political action committee (PAC) to have an impact on the midterm elections.
Republicans serving in Congress and in statehouses across the country should take notice of the ACC’s efforts to educate and activate conservatives around the country. Yesterday’s message simply won’t work; if the GOP wants success in the coming years, it will need to appeal to these young people by supporting an “all of the above” approach to energy, including unequivocal support for clean energy resources such as wind and solar. CRES congratulates the ACC on their recent success, and we look forward to continuing our work together to advance commonsense, clean energy solutions in the years to come.