Is Obama the best first-year president on the environment in US history?

Carl Pope, National Executive Director of the Sierra Club thinks so. "This is by far the best first year on the environment of any president in history, including Teddy Roosevelt". His accomplishments:

Increased gas mileage standards for cars and light trucks 40 percent, from today’s 25 mpg to 35 mpg by 2016.

Blocked Bush administration rules to open the California coast and 77 federal sites near Utah’s Arches and Canyonlands national parks to new oil and gas drilling.

Begun a process in December in which the Environmental Protection Agency will, for the first time, restrict the amount of greenhouse gases industry can release.

Signed a bill in March establishing 2.1 million new acres of federally protected wilderness.

Announced tougher new national smog standards from the EPA this month.

Issued EPA rules requiring large U.S. ships to cut soot emissions by 85 percent.

Signed a stimulus package that included more than billion in funding and tax credits for renewable energy projects.

What do you think – best first year president on the environment in US history, or has there been a better one?

12 Responses to “Is Obama the best first-year president on the environment in US history?”

  1. coldfuse Says:

    I’ll give him the 2.1 million new acres of federally protected wilderness. Otherwise, I think court is out; signing legislation and pleasing environmental lobbyists is not the same thing as the legislation’s goals having been achieved. Thus what I hope is, in 10 years time, we will be able to look back on what was accomplished and confirm Carl Pope’s claim.

    I still like Teddy – perhaps not for his first year, but simply for his lifelong interest in conservation and naturalism, beginning with the stories of the "Roosevelt Museum of Natural History" he started as a child (a collection later donated to the Smithsonian). He had substantial credibility entering the presidency, having already helped to save Yellowstone from commercial exploitation.

    I might give Teddy the nod in conservation. Environmentalism? Maybe Obama. What did others do in their first year?


    Dana, forgive me, but I can’t resist giving you this quotation:

    There is an "absolute necessity of waging all-out war against the debauching of the environment… The bulldozer mentality of the past is a luxury we can no longer afford. Our roads and other public projects must be planned to prevent the destruction of scenic resources and to avoid needlessly upsetting the ecological balance."

    ~ California Governor Ronald Reagan (who was unrivaled in setting aside lands for state parks)

    You’re probably too young to remember the hatred and contempt people had for James Watt, Reagan’s Secretary of the Interior. Multiply whatever you have read by two.

  2. jim z Says:

    Obama hasn’t done squat except harm our economy, read from his teleprompter, spend recklessly, apolgize to the world about things he shouldn’t be apologizing for, etc… and has so alienated voters, even the bluist blue state is on the verge of electing a republican. The rats (democ…) are and will scurry for cover and Obama will become a lame duck after his first year. That is my greatest wish and it looks like it may be coming true.

  3. laz4059 Says:

    In the past decade, possibly. Out of all presidents he currently ranks about 20th on my scale. Providing a few guidelines for agencies is nothing compared to creating those agencies in the first place. No one trumps Teddy Roosevelt, sorry.

  4. bmw153 Says:

    in the past 20 years yes…
    best regards

  5. Starbuck Says:

    Ha, as we are in California tearing down his laws, laws that have no environmental benefits. Coming frrom Berkely Dana, you must know a Dr. Jerritt who has a contract with CARB to study premature deaths of PM2.5 and guess what, he won’t release his raw data to other scientists who disagree with his science. Sound familiar. The liberals are a scheming joke and crminal to say the least. We have a letter into the UC President Yudof to force Jerritt to release the data under the FOI.

    So the answer to your question, you have to be kidding. This entire administration work on the environment has been a scam.

  6. linlyons Says:

    That’s rather a low bar to set.
    All he has to do is undo much of what his predecessor messed up.
    I mean, what with the oil industry lobby having run the EPA, it’s not all that hard to make a significant difference.

    coldfuse, whom i normally really disagree with seems to have a good handle on this one.
    while Obama will be very hard pressed to equal TR’s total record, in the first year, Obama has the edge, particularly with all of the other problems that he’s inherited.

  7. now don't start that again Says:

    If he pushes this cap and trade thing through he will go down as one of the worst Presidents in history.

  8. New Deal Democrat Says:

    Sure – for the "environment." Unfortunately for the people of the world though, his environmental policies mean mass-murder and mass-genocide.

    Obama’s actions are, to put it mildly, those of a hostile foreign agent. He should immediately be impeached, removed and barred from office, arrested, indicted, convicted, and imprisoned on the following charges:

    – Conspiracy to Commit High Crimes Against Humanity (i.e., his Nazi deathcare policy and Cap-and-Trade swindle).

    – Conspiracy to Violate the Separation of Powers Provisions of the Constitution (i.e., the continuation of the fraudulent Hitler/Cheney "Unitary Executive" doctrine, the intention to provoke war with Pakistan without a Congressional declaration of war through drone- and air-strikes).

    – Conspiracy to Commit the United States to an International Genocide Policy (i.e., his actions at and surrounding the Copenhagen "Climate Summit").

    – Criminal Fraud and Racketeering (i.e., actions surrounding the intrinsically fraudulent "bailout" of the Wall Street and City of London criminals).

    – High Treason and Conspiracy to Destroy the Sovereignty of the United States (i.e., his attempts to cede the sovereignty of the United States to the British Empire at the London G-20 summit, his disgraceful kow-towing to the British Monarchy’s genocide policy at Copenhagen, his administration’s endorsement of a global financial dictatorship run by the IMF through its so-called "Special Drawing Rights").

    The bottom line is that Obama is impeachable for everything that Bush Jr. was impeachable for, and then some – and George Bush Jr. was unquestionably the MOST impeachable President in American history.

  9. booM Says:

    Obviously, from the standpoint of environmentalists he has done extremely well but Pope may be a trifle overenthusiastic-or perhaps premature…in comparison to what Bush did Obama is certainly a huge, huge improvement and this is a pretty impressive list, but I think it’s a little early to be making judgements on the ‘best.’ A couple of good points are made about context of the times-Roosevelt was clearly outstanding in his era and we have to keep how ‘conservation’ was defined in his times in context vs. today.

    Also-and perhaps even more obviously-it is pretty clear from a couple of the responses how maniacal the hatred of Obama is in some quarters; this category of Y/A is not a mirror of the larger world but just about anyplace one goes nowadays, when politics rears its ugly head there are some certifiable crazies on the right yelling from the corners. Trying to work against an unhinged contingent adds some additional credence to Pope’s praise. This brings up Nixon-despite his loathsome legacy, Nixon did establish the EPA and a lot of clean air initiatives. That was pretty darned big, especially considering that he had to deal with nearly as much hatred as Obama is-albeit for much better reasons, while going up against much of his own constituency on many environmental initiatives. Really, this situation today isn’t so different than it was 40 years ago in terms of the resistance, foot-dragging, corporate-spread disinformation and outright hostility when it comes to the environment. One would have thought that with the choking smog, surface water pollution and trash all over the place people would have been more receptive, but just like today many weren’t.

    I’d say as with most events and accomplishments it takes time and at least a little historical perspective to rank a president’s initiatives.

  10. andy Says:

    Actually I think he is one of the most lopsided Presidents. The greenhouse gas emissions is still not good science and is mainly political. Introducing tougher smog standards when half of the Nation doesn’t meet existing ones is stupid. Blocking the ability for the United States to become some what more energy independent is really stupid. The only thing I agree with is increasing the miles per gallon which Congress and the past Presidents have been trying for almost 20 years. When you buy up two of three automotive companies it is easy to dictate to them what you want.

    I think that Teddy Roosevelt is still the best for balancing protecting the environment with the needs of the people.

    Then again Dana, you are smitten with the environmentalists and they can do no wrong even if it will hurt the average American and cause more jobs to be lost.

  11. Andrew Q Says:

    The only thing that really matters is that he is vastly better than the previous one on just about every issue..

  12. Runescape Noob Says:

    Absolutely not. he promised to get us ou of the recession and make the dollar strong once again. he’s doing a good job trying to do that but he will just blow it if that stupid "Cap and Trade" Bill comes into effect.