When discussing efforts to protect the environment and the implementation of rules and regulations to specify how to do that, many people do not consider members of the Republican party as ones who would be interested in doing so. Indeed, many people think just the opposite, that Republicans by nature are anti-environmental.
Even in California, seen by many as run by left-wing, non-republican environmentalists, there exists in certain areas, including Bakersfield and the San Joaquin Valley, a pronounced Republican or right-wing local majority. Many of those people would agree that associating environmentalism with Republicans would not seem likely.
However, what many people don’t realize is that many of our country’s and California’s most important environmental regulations came into being because of the efforts of Republicans.
Here is a list of 8 Republicans who helped shape the regulatory framework we live under today.
President Nixon was responsible for numerous environmental regulations that are the cornerstone of efforts by the United States to control pollution and protect wildlife. During his tenure he supported and signed into law the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the Clean Air Act, the Marine Mammal Protection Act, the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA), the Endangered Species Act, and approved the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
William Ruckelshaus, an attorney with a long history of supporting Republican causes, was the first Administrator of the United States Environmental Protection Agency in 1970. (He also returned to serve as leader again from 1983 through 1985.) One of his first actions, besides hiring administrators, staff, and setting the framework for EPA’s mission, was to ban the use of DDT. In doing so, he overruled the testimony and recommendations of others he had appointed to investigate DDT, who thought no such ban was necessary.
Russell Train was EPA’s second administrator from September 1973 to January 1977. Long active in Republican issues, he oversaw the approval of catalytic converters to control automobile emissions, implementation of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), and the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES). He also supported EPA’s interest in international affairs and attempts to balance energy demands with environmental issues.
George H.W. Bush
Providing a stark contrast to the later environmental policies of his son, George W. Bush, George H.W. Bush actually ran for office as the “environmental president.” He oversaw the re-authorization of the federal Clean Air Act which subsequently led to a reduction in acid rain as well as reductions in smog.
Former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, a staunch Republican, was and is also a staunch environmentalist. He has supported California’s myriad of environmental regulations, including the approval of AB32, the California Global Warming Solutions Act. By doing so, he accomplished something even the federal government has not been able to accomplish, establishing the nation’s first cap-and-trade regulation to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases.
Known for enjoying the great outdoors, President Theodore Roosevelt took Presidential actions that reflected those interests. He increased the acreage defined as national forests significantly, implemented the National Wildlife Refuge System, and established 18 national monuments. He even sent U.S. Marines to Midway Atoll to help protect the Laysan albatross from poachers who were killing them for their feathers.
Ulysses S. Grant
President Ulysses S. Grant was known for more than just his Civil War heroics. He signed legislation that created the country’s, and the world’s, first national park, Yellowstone.
President Lincoln did more than free the slaves. He recognized the importance also of some of our nations geographic jewels and did something about it. He signed legislation creating the Yosemite Grant, which set aside park land for preservation and public use for the first time. His actions served as the basis for the creation of Yellowstone National Park in 1872.