Environmentalism X Conservatism

The Sagebrush Rebellion was a movement that began in the late 1970s in the western United States. It was a response to federal land-use policies that many people felt were overly restrictive and harmful to local economies. The movement was named after the sagebrush, which is a common plant in the western U.S. and a symbol of the region. The Sagebrush Rebellion was led by ranchers, farmers, and other landowners who wanted more control over federal lands. They believed that the federal government was overstepping its bounds and that local communities should have more say in how the land was used. The movement was controversial and sparked a lot of debate, but ultimately it did lead to some changes in federal land-use policies. 

The wise use movement was a political movement in the United States that emerged in the 1980s. Its goal was to promote the use of natural resources for economic development, while minimizing environmental regulations. Its supporters argued that environmental regulations were overly restrictive and that they limited economic growth. The movement gained significant political influence during the Reagan administration and continued to be influential in the following decades. However, it also faced significant opposition from environmental groups who argued that the movement’s policies were harmful to the environment.

Between the late 1970s and the early 1990s, the opposition evolved in ways that shaped and reflected broader shifts in the New Right, as critics of public lands protection moved away from the reactionary opposition to the federal government and environmental reform grounded in states’ rights claims characteristic of the sagebrush rebellion, toward the more positive assertions of individual property rights and liberties characteristic of the wise use movement. Notably, whereas in the 1980s wilderness advocates metthe challenges of the sagebrush rebellion and the Reagan administration with confidence, They later struggled to do so in the face of the wise use movement (Turner). 

The new right emerged in the United States in the late 1970s as a response to the perceived failures of liberal policies and the rise of social and cultural changes. It was characterized by a conservative ideology that emphasized individualism, free markets, and limited government intervention. The movement spread through grassroots activism, media outlets, and political organizations, such as the Moral Majority and the Heritage Foundation. The new right played a significant role in the election of Ronald Reagan as president in 1980 and continued to influence conservative politics in the decades that followed.

The battles over public lands in the west, especially those involving wilderness designations, played a significant role in shaping the new right. These conflicts centered around the government’s authority to regulate land use and conservation efforts. The new right emerged as a response to what was perceived as government overreach and a threat to individual property rights. The movement gained momentum through the efforts of conservative politicians and interest groups, who framed the issue as a battle between individual freedom and government control. The new right’s influence can still be seen today in debates over public lands, environmental regulations, and the role of government in managing natural resources.

One thought on “Environmentalism X Conservatism

  1. Ghada,
    You did a great job at explaining the purpose and main tenets of these anti-environmentalist movements. I like how you pointed out the Reagan administration’s importance during this era and how it affected environmentalism. I agree with you that the issue of state and individual rights is a large part of how these opposition groups coincide with the New Right and conservatism. I also agree with your final statement that this issue is alive today in conservative politics.


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