Free «BX Environment Legislation» Essay
Environment and politics have always been deeply connected. Exactly politicians are able to introduce a new pro-environmental law or a law that may damage nature. Being green is not an easy task, especially for politicians, since they are more worried about social and economic changes. For some presidents of the United States of America protecting environment was of great importance, for other presidents — it was the other way round.
Let’s begin with "Theodore Roosevelt, who was considered as one of the green presidents" (Zachary1). T.Roosevelt tried to protect wilderness by using the Forest Reserve Act of 1891 and set aside 150 million acres of timberland as public domains. This led to the creation of the National Wildlife Refuge System. Roosevelt also created 50 wildlife refuges and 5 national parks.
Richard Nixon was a disliked leader for most Americans, however his actions contributed towards nature preservation. Nixon's domestic policy record, including environmental achievements, was underestimated. "In 1970 Nixon signed the National Environmental Policy Act" (Rathlesberger7) and founded the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), that helped to lower pollution in cities. He also signed the Marine Mammal Protection Act, Endangered Species Act and the Safe Drinking Water Act in 1974, he was recognized as one of the most eco-friendly president in history.
"Jimmy Carter administration could be considered as one of the most pro-environmental in the history" (Frisch and Kelly40). In 1977, Carter created the Department of Energy to promote alternative and clean fuels, in 1979, he implemented "Corporate Average Fuel Economy". Due to the National Interest Lands Conservation Act, more than 100 million acres and 26 rivers were conserved in America’s Last Frontier.
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As for Ronald Reagan, it is said that he "really has not had any environmental advisers" (Lash, Gillman and Sheridan324). His administration led a negative policy towards oil, gas and coal lands that were set aside for lease. Reagan refused from Carter’s CAFE standards for renewable energy and claimed solar panels to be useless.
George H.W. Bush, Sr. declared he would be the "environmental president". "The most visible event that is connected with environment was the Earth Summit, held in 1992" (Medhurst15). However, he also amended the Clean Air Act along with the Pollution Prevention Act (1990), since he was an outdoorsman, he understood the importance of the environmental movement.
"Hope for protection of the environment under the presidency of Bill Clinton was not successful" (Cockburn46). His politics towards environment was not perfect, but still pretty good, since he created 17 new national monuments by using executive orders and ameliorated protection for wetlands and forests. What is more impressing is that he forbade building of the roads on around 60 million acres of wilderness in national forests, he almost doubled the budget to research and develop clean energy technologies. Finally, he introduced the law according to which corporate polluters were jailed and fined.
Environmentalists considered George W. Bush to be like a "plague that allows water to turn brown and the sky to bring death" (Lord1). Bush rolled back laws concerning air pollution and standards for arsenic in drinking water. He was against fuel economy and other efficiency standards, therefore he is known for his ties in oil industry, since under his presidency oil companies had the highest profits in the history of the world. According to Kennedy’s Book "Crimes Against Nature", it is possible to conclude that Bush has rewritten the nation’s environmental laws in favor of industry.
As for current president Barack Obama, his EPA returned to the business of fining polluters and try to "fight against global warming by reducing the 6 announced greenhouse gases that are dangerous for environment and public health" (Gingrich81). He also made a priority on improving the conservation of the ocean and the Great Lakes by establishing a National Ocean Policy and restoring over 5,200 acres of coastal habitat.
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After having analysed the treatment towards environment of the 8 US presidents, it would be useful to conclude that only 2 of 8 presidents (Reagan and Bush) were not pro-environmental due to the fact that their goal was not to protect environment, but to develop industry. As for Bush Sr., he was not an anti-environmental president because he did some changes, however, they were minor. Finally, 5 of 8 presidents, namely Roosevelt, Nixon, Carter, Clinton and Obama, were very pro-environmental presidents, since their actions were directed to preserve environment.