The Environmentally Oriented Presidents: A Poll, And Commentary On The Poll

Last week, CorporateKnights.com, which advertises itself as “The Company For Clean Capitalism”, and publishes a magazine, asked twelve environmental oriented organizations to rank our 43 Presidents on the issue of their “greenness”, a fascinating ranking!

They also held a press conference, which was shown on C Span, and Ralph Nader, the well known environmentalist and leader of Public Citizen, was on the panel discussing the results.

The conclusion was that eight Presidents deserved recognition, with three being way ahead of the other five on the issue of the environment.

The easy winner was Republican Theodore Roosevelt, followed by Republican Richard Nixon, and Democrat Jimmy Carter.

The other five in order were Democrat Barack Obama , Democratic -Republican Thomas Jefferson, Democrat Franklin D. Roosevelt and Republican Gerald Ford tied for sixth, and Democrat Bill Clinton in last place among the eight.

While some might be surprised at Richard Nixon being second, actually the author of this blog well recognizes his leadership on the environment, and has pointed it out when teaching students about recent American history.

This author also fully agrees on TR as first, and Jimmy Carter as certainly the best one term President on the environment, and when one realizes that he was succeeded by a President, Republican Ronald Reagan, often judged the absolute worst on the environment,, it makes him feel very depressed!

Also, since Republican George W. Bush is rated the second worst to Reagan, and worst by some observers, it makes one wish that Ralph Nader had not run as a Green Party candidate in 2000, and taking almost 100,000 votes away from Al Gore, who would certainly have been a great environmental President, and had a major role in making Bill Clinton, who had a terrible record on the environment in Arkansas, able to make the present list as one of the better environmental Presidents.

It is pleasing to see Barack Obama as high as fourth on this list, with the potential to be more accomplished in a second term, and the record of Mitt Romney in action and words makes one concerned that he might be President, as every indication is that he would not put the environment high on his list of priorities, were he to win the White House.

Also, however, it must be said that it seems to this author that other Presidents should be commended for their environmental interests, including:

John Quincy Adams, who first promoted the idea of a cabinet office, the Department of the Interior, in the 1820s, but created a year after his death, in 1849.

Rutherford B. Hayes, who appointed one of the best Interior Secretaries in history, Carl Schurz, who did what he could on the environment, in the late 1870s.

Woodrow Wilson, who made major advances on the subject, in the second decade of the 20th century.

Harry Truman, who promoted environmental advancements in the late 1940s and early 1950s.

John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson, who in the 1960s, promoted environmental concerns, with their Interior Secretary Stewart Udall, appointed by Kennedy but kept on and given support by Johnson.

Also, the record clearly shows that It was Republican Presidents such as William Howard Taft, Warren G. Harding, Dwight D. Eisenhower, and George H. W. Bush, who took steps to harm the environment, on a lesser scale than Reagan and the second Bush, but still damaging.

So, not suprisingly, Democrata have been better than Republicans on the environment, but with the major exceptions of Theodore Roosevelt, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, and Rutherford B. Hayes.