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The Green Life: 4 Surprisingly Green Presidents

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February 17, 2014

4 Surprisingly Green Presidents

Mt RushmorePresidents Day is upon us once again, a holiday that encourages us to reflect on the legacy on some of our most influential presidents (and gives us an excuse to relax on our federally mandated day off). By the nature of their position, the POTUS has an unrivalled platform from which to dictate policy and enact legislation with regards to the environment. While many presidents have shirked their environmental responsibilities, others have championed our nation's greatest attribute, attempting to ensure its glory for future generations. Here are a few of our most environmentally proactive Presidents. 

Theodore Roosevelt

Despite his unabashed taste for hunting, Theodore Roosevelt was undeniably a lover of nature, and perhaps our first environmentalist president. Throughout his presidency, Roosevelt used executive action like no other president before him to reach his conservationist goals. Roosevelt ensured that Yellowstone National Park could not be exploited for commercial goals and established over 50 national bird refuges through executive action. He would go on to found the U.S. Forest Service and create the Theodore Roosevelt with John Muir at Yosemeite National Parkfirst 18 National Monuments, including Muir Woods, Grand Canyon, and Devils Tower.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt

With the country being ravaged by unemployment during Great Depression, one of the most successful aspects of Franklin Delano Roosevelt's New Deal policies was the creation of the Civilian Conservation Corps. In the decade before World War II, the CCC employed millions of Americans in conservation positions, helping reintroduce wildlife to depleted areas and helping establish outdoor recreational infrastructure for many of our national parks and forests.

Richard Nixon

When you think of environmentalists, Richard Nixon is probably not the first name to pop into your head. Nevertheless, in 1970 President Nixon created the Environmental Protection Agency, the first centralized government agency with the goal of protecting the health of Americans as well as the environment. Nixon also went on to sign the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972 and the Endangered Species Act of 1973. 

Jimmy Carter

Though he only served one term as president, Jimmy Carter's legacy as an environmentalist will be long lasting, as he was the first U.S. President to install solar panels on the White House roof. This visionary move came years before solar panels began to make a serious dent on the energy market, and marked a pivotal and symbolic moment in our nation's continuing shift towards renewable energies. Though President Reagan dismantled President Carter's solar panels in 1986, panels once again adorn the White House over President Obama.

--Image by iStockphoto/fstockfoto

--Image courtesy of the Sierra Club

Callum Beals is an editorial intern at Sierra. He recently graduated from UC Santa Cruz where he studied history and literature. He enjoys hiking, camping, and waking up at ungodly hours to watch soccer games.

READ MORE:

A Brief History of Presidential (Solar) Power

Meet America's 5 Newest National Monuments

Get Married in a National Park

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