Across the country, private citizens and business owners are joining forces with Tea Party activists to push back against well-funded green pressure groups that work with government officials. Over the past few decades, the environmental movement has worked to undermine property rights, block entrepreneurial activity and expand regulatory control without a serious, concerted response, according to free-market advocates
However, since the 2010 elections, Republican governors and state lawmakers aligned with the Tea Party have worked to unwind environmental provisions they view as being overly burdensome to business. This has occurred in tandem with legislative efforts on Capitol Hill to curtail the power and influence of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Instead of fixating on Washington politics, some of the key players within the Tea Party network have burrowed in locally and operate as a counterbalance to state-level green pressure groups. Although they are a long way from achieving anything in the way of parity, Chuck Cushman, executive director of the American Land Rights Association, credits the Tea Party for settling on the right strategy.
“Small environmental groups, as well as the large well-known ones, are systematically undermining the economic vitality of America,” says Chuck Cushman, executive director of the American Land Rights Association. “They are pushing land use regulations and land lock-ups to such a degree that they are killing the economic ecosystem of rural America and blocking the development of jobs and communities while limiting access to productive lands. In the long run, the small environmental groups are hurting America while trying to do what they perceive as good. But the cumulative impact of all of them going in the same direction with a top down ‘for the good of all’ approach is strangling rural America and forcing rural people off their land, off federal land, out of their jobs and business and into the cities. The economic competitiveness of America is being gradually undermined by this process.”
An early test for free-market forces comes in Maine where Paul LePage, the Tea Party-backed Republican governor is following through on a campaign pledge to roll back environmental regulations. He benefits from new Republican majorities in both houses of the state legislature, but will be up against a “green iron triangle” that is deeply entrenched, lavishly funded and closely aligned with government agencies, Ron Arnold, executive director of the Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise, says.