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Today is the day to celebrate our earth in all of its beauty, complexity, and wonder. Part of humanity’s job as stewards of the Earth is to protect and preserve this world that we have been given.

That is why Republicans have long been defenders of the earth, balancing the necessities of conservation with the need and realities of human existence.

The “father of conservation,” Republican Teddy Roosevelt, set the precedent for environmental protection by preserving millions of acres of wilderness. That precedent was followed, to varying degrees of success, through the Republican presidencies of Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and George W. Bush, each of whom signed legislation or acted administratively in an attempt to make our environment cleaner and healthier.

Yet we understand that there is more to preserve than our environment. However worthy the goal of environmental conservation may be, that goal must be balanced with human need. That is why the protection of the delta smelt cannot be bought at the price of thousands of acres of usable and fertile California farmland that has the potential to feed millions. That is why land preservation should not trump minimally invasive drilling or pipelines that will help wean American from foreign energy dependence.

So, on this Earth Day, let us devote ourselves to a balanced approach to conservation, one that helps both people and the world we inhabit.