Presidents’ Day was originally established to commemorate George Washington’s birthday, but for many, it’s simply morphed into a welcome day off from work. We’re here to renew the focus on history and review what various Commander in Chiefs have done to improve the health of the planet. While the current president’s environmental record is in the infancy stage, here are a few of our past presidents who’ve left impressive environmental legacies.
Theodore Roosevelt: Often depicted as a hunter and explorer on horseback, Teddy Roosevelt is known as the Father of Conservation, making the safeguarding of America’s natural resources a top priority of his administration. In 1904, he created the U.S. Forestry Service to battle deforestation (he even refused to have a Christmas Tree cut for the White House), established five national parks, and signed the Antiquities Act, giving future presidents the ability to declare into federal ownership “historic landmarks, historic and prehistoric structures, and other objects of historic and scientific interest.”
Richard Nixon: The first ever Earth Day was celebrated during Nixon’s second term in office, just days before the president signed the National Environmental Policy Act, requiring federal agencies to report environmental impact statements. His executive orders established the EPA and NOAA, and Nixon signed the Clean Air Act of 1970, putting regulations on emissions from industrial and mobile sources.
Jimmy Carter: President Carter embraced renewable energy long before most of the country. Carter even had solar panels installed atop the White House in 1979 (they were taken down seven years later during the Reagan administration). He also spearheaded the formation of the Department of Energy.
Barack Obama: He’s known by many as the “Climate Change President.” During his eight years in office, Obama expanded the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument (the largest marine reserve in the world), signed a ban on microbeads, expanded the California Costal National Monument, rejected the Keystone XL oil pipeline, raised fuel efficiency standards and employed the Antiquities Act more than any other president – to protect parks and other public spaces. Obama also invested in green energy and ratified the Paris Climate Accord, a global agreement to combat climate change. And those are just the highlights!
A US president’s position on the environment shapes environmental policy and spending. At TerraPass, we trust that all our country’s elected officials, including our presidents, embrace environmental conservation and function as one of the watchdogs to protect our planet from pollution and environmental abuse.
For more news on the environment and climate change, keep an eye on the TerraPass Footprint Blog, which is updated weekly. And don’t forget to follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook, where we’re always sharing tips and information on living an eco-friendly, green lifestyle.