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Environmental policies

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Historically, progressive leaders in the Republican Party supported environmental protection. Republican President Theodore Roosevelt was a prominent conservationist whose policies eventually led to the creation of the National Park Service. While Republican President Richard Nixon was not an environmentalist, he signed legislation to create the Environmental Protection Agency in 1970 and had a comprehensive environmental program. However, this position has changed since the 1980s and the administration of President Ronald Reagan, who labeled environmental regulations a burden on the economy. Since then, Republicans have increasingly taken positions against environmental regulation, with some Republicans rejecting the scientific consensus on climate change.

In 2006, then-California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger broke from Republican orthodoxy to sign several bills imposing caps on carbon emissions in California. Then-President George W. Bush opposed mandatory caps at a national level. Bush's decision not to regulate carbon dioxide as a pollutant was challenged in the Supreme Court by 12 states, with the court ruling against the Bush administration in 2007. Bush also publicly opposed ratification of the Kyoto Protocols which sought to limit greenhouse gas emissions and thereby combat climate change; his position was heavily criticized by climate scientists.

The Republican Party rejects cap-and-trade policy to limit carbon emissions. In the 2000s, Senator John McCain proposed bills (such as the McCain-Lieberman Climate Stewardship Act) that would have regulated carbon emissions, but his position on climate change was unusual among high-ranking party members. Some Republican candidates have supported the development of alternative fuels in order to achieve energy independence for the United States. Some Republicans support increased oil drilling in protected areas such as the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, a position that has drawn criticism from activists.

Many Republicans during the presidency of Barack Obama opposed his administration's new environmental regulations, such as those on carbon emissions from coal. In particular, many Republicans supported building the Keystone Pipeline; this position was supported by businesses, but opposed by indigenous peoples' groups and environmental activists.

According to the Center for American Progress, a non-profit liberal advocacy group, more than 55% of congressional Republicans were climate change deniers. PolitiFact in May 2014 found "relatively few Republican members of Congress ... accept the prevailing scientific conclusion that global warming is both real and man-made". The group found eight members who acknowledged it, although the group acknowledged there could be more and that not all members of Congress have taken a stance on the issue.

From 2008 to 2017, the Republican Party went from "debating how to combat human-caused climate change to arguing that it does not exist", according to The New York Times. In January 2015, the Republican-led U.S. Senate voted 98–1 to pass a resolution acknowledging that "climate change is real and is not a hoax"; however, an amendment stating that "human activity significantly contributes to climate change" was supported by only five Republican senators.

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