The Republican Party is often seen as the bane of protective environmental policies, and is associated with opening public land in the West to private oil interests, endorsing pipeline construction on federal lands, and permitting road development in wilderness areas. Throughout history, however, the Republican Party has not always worked for such brazen anti-environment causes, and some of America’s most formative protective land policies emerged under Republican leadership. If this is the case, how has the Republican Party realigned on protective public lands policy in the Republican electorate, government, and party organization with time? This investigation reviews the proportion of protective public lands policy stances and actions observed in these three levels of the Republican Party since the 1970s. It finds a distinct shift in policy action motivated by Republican elites within the Party organization, and suggests that Republicans have decreased their interest in protecting public lands and wilderness.
Pinkalla, Stephanie, "Republicans in the Wild: Issue Realignment in the Republican Party on Public Land Policy" (2014). Honors Theses. 51.