In honor of the upcoming Nation’s Birthday: the 4th of July we thought we would highlight a great feature on Green and not-so-Green Presidents. The Daily Green wrote a couple articles a while back : 10 Greenest Presidents and Presidents with the Worst Environmental Records. Both these articles highlight the Presidents who have given the most to the Green movement and those who have done the least. In order to rate the Presidents, the Daily Green has identified those that have done either the most or least amount of work with environmental policy and protection. Of course it is hard to compare all the Presidents as obviously America has gone through massive change and evolution. However, these lists highlight some of the greatest, well and worst environmental Presidents.
Its always good to start with the positive, so we want to feature some of our favorite Green Presidents and highlight what they were able to accomplish in their term. The Daily Green’s list, as we mentioned above, contained the Top 10. We will feature four of the Greenest Presidents, but to get the full list, check out their feature.
1) Teddy Roosevelt: He is often thought of as one of the forefront environmentalists, as far as Presidents go. In his time in office he was constantly pushing Congress for environmental protection, including setting aside 150 million acres timberland and turning it into public domain. He also was able to create 50 wildlife refuges and 5 National Parks and initiated the US Forest Service.
2) Jimmy Carter: Carter was wise beyond his years and definitely ahead of his time, as he not only instituted Green Acts, but he lived by example. For instance he installed solar panels on the roof of the White House and kept the Thermostat at 68. He created the Department of Energy which he hoped would create National use of alternative fuels. Also, he signed into law several acts such as Soil and Water Conservation Act, Endangered American Wilderness Act, and Superfund Act.
3) Richard Nixon: Although being most infamously known for his role in the Watergate scandal and his bombing of Cambodia, Nixon is also known for some great Green moves. He created the Environmental Protection Agency and the Clean Air Act. During his Presidency he signed several eco-acts including the Endangered Species Act, Safe Drinking Water Act, and the Ocean Dumping Act.
4) Woodrow Wilson: Wilson may not have accomplished as much in the Green world as the previous people on this list, however, the Green items he did complete are incredibly important. In 1916, he founded the National Park Service, which is incredibly treasured throughout the US. Also, he pushed forward the Smith-Lever Act of 1914.
Other Presidents on the Top Greenest Presidents list included Thomas Jefferson, Bill Clinton, Franklin D Roosevelt, Abraham Lincoln, Lyndon B Johnson, and John F Kennedy.
And as many great eco-friendly Presidents that have come through history, there are some equally as terribly green Presidents. These Presidents have chosen to either ignore environmental policy or have left a path of destruction. The following are only four we have chosen to highlight from the Presidents With the Worst Environmental Records. To see the full list, check it out here.
1) Dwight D Eisenhower: Eisenhower’s Presidency begun during the Post World War II Era. And with that era brought expansion to the suburbs. Eisenhower actually really promoted the move to the suburbs and he constructed many projects that lead to the Interstate Highway System and funding and energy moved away from mass transit. From these movements suburban sprawl and car culture really took form.
2) Ulysses S. Grant: Although Grant was able to make Yellowstone the first National Park, he has huge black mark on his record. This mark is the 1872 Mining Law, which changed how mining worked. With this law large scale and destructive mining begun on public land with no payback to the taxpayer. This Law is still being fought by Environmentalists today and causes many battles.
3) Ronald Reagan: More than any other Administration in history, Reagan gave leases to oil, coal, and gas development on National lands. Reagan appointed anti-environmental leaders to head the EPA and Department of the Interior which caused such laws as the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act to be rolled back. He also scaled back Carter’s CAFE standards for gas mileage and slashed funding for alternative energy. Furthermore, he once famously or infamously said “trees cause more pollution than automobiles do.”
4) George W. Bush: This probably comes as no surprise to anyone: that Bush makes this list. It is well known at this point that the Bush administration is known for their denial of Global Warming and their refusal to fund alternative energy. Bush has huge ties to the Oil Industry and under his terms, they reaped the highest income ever. On top of this he scaled back laws protecting air and water pollution, opened the Arctic Wildlife Refuge in Alaska for drilling, pushed logging, and promoted mountain top coal mining. Possibly the worst impact he had was on his denial of Climate Change and the setbacks he caused to the country.
Others that made the worst list include: William McKinley, Richard Nixon (although he appears on the Green List), Andrew Jackson, Herbert Hoover, and Warren Harding.
This lists should serve as not only a lesson to future politicians, but a great way to get to know the history of the Green movement. Its a glimpse at how politicians, specifically Presidents, have shaped the Nation’s environmental policy. So let this be an eye opener for Obama (after all who wants to be on any worst list) and to us as a nation. The environment is a precious thing, and we need to remember to treat it kindly. So this 4th of July, while you are drinking beer and watching the fireworks, take time to reflect on the environment.