I would be reluctant to label any U.S. President, past or present, as a “threat” to our environment, because I think the job of president is so complex and affected by so many different factors that it’s all too easy to cast stones without any real understanding of the problems they face. Among those who are willing to wade into this thicket, however, there are some strong views that Barack Obama’s environmental record has been stronger than George W. Bush’s. Bush should get credit for some initiatives, such as preserving large areas of coral atolls in the central Pacific. However, the Bush administration has been criticized for not seeing the “big picture” in environmental policy, particularly with regard to global warming. Obama, on the other hand, has made climate change a priority, directing the EPA to develop rules allowing it to regulate carbon dioxide as a pollutant, and engaging the international community on climate change issues in a way that Bush did not. Obama has a long way to go, however. The disappointing results of the 2010 Copenhagen summit, and political difficulties in getting any type of meaningful legislation through Congress and especially the Senate (whose Republican minority has proven quite resistant to most Obama initiatives), highlight how hard it really is for any president to make significant gains on environmental issues. That said, I would not label either Bush or Obama as a “threat” to the environment. Both tried and are trying to do the best they can, as they see the issues, which are obviously very different.
Note: the link I’m posting is to an opinion piece, and should be regarded as such.
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