Person

Benji Backer

Founder:

American Conservative Coalition

Education:

University of Washington

Benji Backer is an environmentalist activist who associates with the Republican Party politically. He is the founder and president of American Conservation Coalition (ACC), a nominally right-leaning environmentalist organization with financial ties to left-wing environmentalist groups.

American Conservation Coalition

In 2017, Backer and other conservative students at the University of Washington started the American Conservation Coalition to advocate for market-based approaches to environmental regulation. The organization works on 220 college campuses across the country. [1] [2] Backer has said that the ACC was founded to give “conservatives a voice” on environmental issues. [3] Critics from the right have pointed out that ACC has taken funding from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, a left-of-center grantmaking organization. [4]

Backer and the ACC support pro-business policies and Backer has said that public-private partnerships are the most effective means of addressing climate change and promoting renewable energies. [5] He has promoted the ACC’s America Climate Contract, which is a conservative alternative to the Green New Deal, which he considers to be unrealistic. [6]

Backer testified in September 2019 to a joint hearing of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia, Energy, and the Environment and the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis. [7] Left-wing climate activists like Greta Thunberg also testified at the hearing. [8]

In September 2020, during the run-up to the 2020 presidential election, Backer said, “If President Trump wants to get my vote, he’s going to have to prioritize climate change in a way that he has not done over the past four years.” [9] In January 2021, Backer said he looked forward to working with the Biden administration so conservatives and Republicans would have a seat at the table on climate change issues. [10]

In March 2021, Backer co-wrote an op-ed in the Washington Examiner with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), Rep. Dan Newhouse (R-WA), and Rep. Bruce Westerman (R-AR). They wrote that the supposed trade-off between a clean environment and healthy economy was a false choice and noted the Republican Party’s long history on environmental issues, including establishing the Environmental Protection Agency and President Teddy Roosevelt’s conservation legacy. [11]

Political Activities

Backer volunteered for Republican political campaigns in Wisconsin before he was old enough to vote. [12] He first became involved in politics by campaigning for 2008 Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) at the age of 10. [13]

Backer was the co-chairman of Young Americans for Mitt Romney during the 2012 presidential election[14] and made more than 22,000 phone calls as a Republican volunteer. [15]

Backer has been a commentator for several national media outlets, including CNBC, Fox News, The Hill, Washington Examiner, Townhall, and The Independent. He was a speaker at the Conservative Political Action Conference in 2014 and 2016. [16] [17]

Backer was on the Forbes magazine “30 Under 30” list in 2019, as well as the 30-under-30 lists of GreenBiz and Red Alert. [18] ABC News named him one of the “5 youth climate activists you need to know.” [19]

Backer sits on the board of the Mainstream Republicans of Washington and is a member of the Wisconsin Conservative Energy Forum’s Leadership Council. [20] [21] He is a 2020 graduate of the University of Washington and grew up in Appleton, Wisconsin. [22] [23]

References

  1. Robbie, Erica. “Conservative environmentalist Benji Backer, 22, visits Aspen today on cross-country road trip.” Aspen Daily News. October 27, 2020. Accessed June 5, 2021. https://www.aspendailynews.com/news/conservative-environmentalist-benji-backer-22-visits-aspen-today-on-cross-country-road-trip/article_5ad08e52-1803-11eb-b954-772639f48d6c.html ^
  2. Levs, Josh. “Benji Backer on ‘Giving Conservatives a Voice’ in Environmental Activism.” Ally Energy. Mach 9, 2020. Accessed June 5, 2021. https://allyenergy.com/benji-backer-giving-conservatives-voice-environmental-activism/ ^
  3. Levs, Josh. “Benji Backer on ‘Giving Conservatives a Voice’ in Environmental Activism.” Ally Energy. Mach 9, 2020. Accessed June 5, 2021. https://allyenergy.com/benji-backer-giving-conservatives-voice-environmental-activism/ ^
  4. “Grants: American Conservation Coalition Campus. For the Clean Energy Program.” Hewlett Foundation. October 29, 2018. Accessed December 16, 2019. Original URL: https://hewlett.org/grants/american-conservation-coalition-campus-for-the-clean-energy-program/ Archived: https://www.influencewatch.org/app/uploads/2019/12/Hewlett-Foundation-2018-grant-to-ACC-Campus.-12.2019.pdf ^
  5. McCarthy, Joe. “The Young Conservative Trying to Get More Republicans to Fight Climate Change.” Global Citizen. June 13, 2019. Accessed June 5, 2021. https://www.globalcitizen.org/en/content/young-republican-climate-advocate/ ^
  6. Brady, Jeff. “‘Light Years Ahead’ Of Their Elders, Young Republicans Push GOP On Climate Change.” NPR. September 25, 2020. Accessed June 5, 2021. https://www.npr.org/2020/09/25/916238283/light-years-ahead-of-their-elders-young-republicans-push-gop-on-climate-change ^
  7. [1] “Testimony of Benjamin Backer.” “Voices Leading the Next Generation on the Global Climate Crisis.” Joint Hearing of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia, Energy, and the Environment and the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis. September 18, 2019. Accessed June 5, 2021. https://docs.house.gov/meetings/FA/FA14/20190918/109951/HHRG-116-FA14-Wstate-BackerB-20190918.pdf ^
  8. “Benji Backer.” Aspen Ideas Festival. Accessed June 5, 2021. https://www.aspenideas.org/index.php/speakers/benji-backer ^
  9. Brady, Jeff. “‘Light Years Ahead’ Of Their Elders, Young Republicans Push GOP On Climate Change.” NPR. September 25, 2020. Accessed June 5, 2021. https://www.npr.org/2020/09/25/916238283/light-years-ahead-of-their-elders-young-republicans-push-gop-on-climate-change ^
  10. KING Staff. “UW grad, founder of American Conservation Coalition calls for unity.” KING 5-Seattle. January 20, 2021. Accessed June 5, 2021. https://www.king5.com/article/news/local/seattle/founder-of-american-conservative-coalition-calls-for-unity/281-0d83d767-1364-4400-a341-f5c6dec701a2 ^
  11. Newhouse, Dan; Backer, Benji; McCarthy, Kevin; and Westerman, Bruce. “Put Conservatives Back Into Conservation.” The Washington Examiner. March 9, 2021. Accessed June 5, 2021. https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/op-eds/put-conservatives-back-into-conservation ^
  12. “Benji Backer.” Aspen Ideas Festival. Accessed June 5, 2021. https://www.aspenideas.org/index.php/speakers/benji-backer ^
  13. [1] “Testimony of Benjamin Backer.” “Voices Leading the Next Generation on the Global Climate Crisis.” Joint Hearing of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia, Energy, and the Environment and the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis. September 18, 2019. Accessed June 5, 2021. https://docs.house.gov/meetings/FA/FA14/20190918/109951/HHRG-116-FA14-Wstate-BackerB-20190918.pdf ^
  14. “Benji Backer.” American Conservation Council. Accessed June 5, 2021. https://www.acc.eco/leadership-team ^
  15. Newman, Thomas. “Benji Backer is helping conservatives find their voice on the environment.” The Daily. October 8, 2019. Accessed June 5, 2021. https://www.dailyuw.com/news/article_d2d621be-e96f-11e9-9a6b-8fed818c67b3.html ^
  16. “Benji Backer.” American Conservation Council. Accessed June 5, 2021. https://www.acc.eco/leadership-team ^
  17. “Benji Backer.” National Ocean Industries Association. Accessed June 5, 2021. https://www.noia.org/noia-2020-fall-meeting/noia-2020-fall-meeting-speakers/benji-backer/ ^
  18. “Benji Backer.” American Conservation Council. Accessed June 5, 2021. https://www.acc.eco/leadership-team ^
  19. “Benji Backer.” Aspen Ideas Festival. Accessed June 5, 2021. https://www.aspenideas.org/index.php/speakers/benji-backer ^
  20. “Benji Backer.” Crosscut. Accessed June 5, 2021. https://crosscut.com/author/benji-backer ^
  21. “Benji Backer.” American Conservation Council. Accessed June 5, 2021. https://www.acc.eco/leadership-team ^
  22. “Benji Backer.” Crosscut. Accessed June 5, 2021. https://crosscut.com/author/benji-backer ^
  23. “Benji Backer.” National Ocean Industries Association. Accessed June 5, 2021. https://www.noia.org/noia-2020-fall-meeting/noia-2020-fall-meeting-speakers/benji-backer/ ^
  See an error? Let us know!