Happy Presidents’ Day! No matter what you think of Barack Obama, it’s somewhat undeniable that his environmental record as President of the United States hasn’t been much worth writing home about so far. That got us wondering what the most environmentally-friendly presidents in U.S. history were. We thought a good use of Presidents’ Day would be to take a look at the best environmentally-focused presidential administrations and then try to channel all of our energy to see some of that green-focus make its way to the White House and their combatants.
Jimmy Carter (1977-1981)
He may have been a one-termer, but he used that term to do a lot of good for the planet. Carter didn’t just sign environmental laws into being, he actively lobbied for them. In the first year of his administration, the Department of Energy was created and the Soil and Water Conservation Act was passed (as was the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act). He also helped to advance clean air standards with amendments to the Clean Air Act. That list isn’t long enough? It was also during his administration that the National Energy Act, the Antarctic Conservation Act, the Endangered American Wilderness Act and the Alaskan National Interest Lands Conservation Act all passed!
Richard Nixon (1969-1974)
Mentioning Richard Nixon in a positive light in any way is clearly problematic, but the fact of the matter is that he passed some of the most important environmental legislation in U.S. history. That included the Clean Air Act and the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency (since then effectively neutered by the Republicans). It also included the Coastal Zone Management Act, the Ocean Dumping Act, the Maine Mammal Protection Act, the Federal Insecticide Act, the Fungide Rodenticide Act, the Toxic Substances Control Act, the Safe Drinking Water Act and the Endangered Species Act. Nixon, like most people, is not as black and white as it may always seem.
Franklin D. Roosevelt (1933-1945)
Since FDR was the president who developed the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) during the Great Depression, that ultimately makes him responsible for having planted millions of trees across the United States! He also signed the Soil Conservation Service Act and the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act.
Teddy Roosevelt (1901-1909)
Both Roosevelts were exceptional environmental presidents, and Teddy Roosevelt is more famous for his environmental actions than any other president in U.S. history. Because Roosevelt himself was an avid outdoorsman, he made conserving America’s natural resources a top priority. Roosevelt created the National Wildlife Refuge System and designated Pelican Island, Florida as the first National Wildlife Refuge in 1903. During his presidency, almost 230 million acres of national land were placed under federal protection. However, the belief that Roosevelt created the National Parks system is actually a myth! That was created by Woodrow Wilson.
Abraham Lincoln (1861-1865)
No, we’re not just saying this because Lincoln is a “trendy” president right now due to the recent film about his tenure (or his vampire slaying, depending on your movie taste). Lincoln was the president who actually established the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). It was also under his tenure that the National Academy of Sciences was established, which helped to lay the foundations for the national park service. Lincoln was also the president who established environmental protection for Yosemite Valley in California.
Those are our picks of environmentally-friendly presidents that we’re celebrating this Presidents’ Day. Who are yours? Comment below, like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter or Pinterest and let us know.
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