November 22nd, 2007
by: Phil McJenna
ONE of the George W. Bush’s final acts as US president could be to create the largest marine conservation area in the world. White House officials say that Bush is considering a proposal to turn up to 2.3 million square kilometres of tropical waters, coral reefs and remote island atolls in the Pacific Ocean into US National Monuments (see map).
“As bad as his environmental record has been, he could, as one individual, protect more of the Earth’s surface than anyone else in history,” says Lance Morgan of the US Marine Conservation Biology Institute.
Under the American Antiquities Act of 1906, a president does not need congressional approval to preserve public land or water for conservation as a National Monument. In 2006, Bush used the act to designate a 365,000 square kilometre Marine National Monument incorporating the northernmost islands of Hawaii, creating the world’s largest protected marine area. In late August this year, he announced his interest in conserving additional areas of the Pacific Ocean.