The Daily Astorian Editorial
President needs to build a conservation legacy – starting now
It is one of the significant ironies of 20th century environmentalism that pro-business Richard Nixon left an impressive conservation legacy while several Democratic presidents did disappointingly little.
Various explanations have been offered for this. Nixon may have strongly perceived the desirability for enacting legislation like the Federal Water Pollution Control rules of 1972 because it offered industries certainty about expenses and obligations – plus everybody needs clean water.
Democratic presidents, meanwhile, have taken pains to pass an illusory “moderation litmus test” by putting short-term job preservation and union support ahead of substantive lawmaking.
It’s still too soon to tell whether President Obama will consistently put politics ahead of substance on environmental issues, but some of his administration’s early signals are sparking concern among those who hoped for a complete break from the Bush years.