Teddy Roosevelt is arguably the greatest environmental president in history. He added over 230 million acres of public land, and among other things, established 150 national forests, 51 federal land reserves, and 18 national monuments.
Perhaps a close second, Barrack Obama not only added 260 million acres of public land, raised automobile fuel efficiency standards, promoted wind and solar energy, and imposed pollution limits for powerplant smokestacks, but he also helped reach the landmark Paris agreement which set goals for a worldwide effort to curb global warming.
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Global Warming: A Chinese Hoax
Taken at face value, the words and actions of President Donald Trump enabled him to quickly establish himself not as a protector of our environment, but as its most enthusiastic defiler. He announced that global warming itself was “a Chinese hoax,” and then set out to use his power to write executive orders countermanding many of the executive order President Obama had written to protect our environment.
Even Trump’s most fervent political backers would agree that their idol was no environmentalist. Indeed, these folks consider the term a pejorative, having the same connotation as progressive, socialist, or communist.
And yet, later this month Trump will sign perhaps the most important piece of environmental legislation to be passed in recent memory. The bill would provide a perpetual annual funding of $900 million to preserve public lands. President Obama -- with whom President Trump considers himself in perpetual competition – and several earlier presidents, had tried and failed to get similar legislation passed. Why will this time be different?
One must first understand that President Trump has three major goals – to win a competition with Barrack Obama that has apparently been going on in Trump’s head since he took office, a fierce desire to be reelected, and the hope that the Republicans would maintain their control of the Senate.
It just so happens that Cory Gardner of Colorado and Steve Daines of Montana, two of the most endangered species of Republican senators running for reelection against strong Democratic rivals, need all the help they can get. Although neither of these gentlemen is a noted environmentalist, the passage of the law could help their reelection efforts.
Trump As A True Environmental President
Still, support of this bill would not, by itself, make Trump a true environmental president. But just during the last few months, the level of air pollution across the entire nation has fallen precipitously. Many Americans cannot remember a better air quality.
And whom should we thank for this wonderful change? Although he is far too modest to take full credit, the president is indeed personally responsible for this marvelous development.
Let’s go back just a few months to when Mr. Trump was reassuring the nation that we had nothing to worry about – that there would be no pandemic. Indeed he was in complete denial until late March that we had anything to fear from this rapidly spreading virus.
Because we were so poorly prepared, when it finally dawned on the president that just maybe all his public health advisors were actually on to something big, he finally conceded the need to take some draconian measures to stop the spread of the virus.
The president then signed on to a national policy of asking everyone to not only socially distance, but if at all possible, to try working from home. Within days, people were cutting back drastically on their driving. And within weeks, our air quality had vastly improved.
It was, of course, regrettable that so many Americans had to die, not to mention how much our lives had been disrupted. Still, because he so badly botched preventing the spread of the virus, our president can take full credit for our greatly improved air quality.
The more than one hundred thousand Americans who died from the coronavirus are what the military might have described as “collateral damage,” from the president’s clean air campaign. And who knows? Perhaps Mr. Trump can be persuaded to take full responsibility for the events leading to his earning the appellation of environmental president.