This Presidents Day, we’re taking a moment to celebrate some of the “greenest” Presidents in our nation’s history. You might be surprised to find that half of them are Republican.
Let’s start with President Richard Nixon (Republican). As president, Richard Nixon passed some of the most important environmental legislation in U.S. history. The focus of his efforts was protecting people from environmental hazards. Nixon passed the Clean Air Act to control air pollution across the country. The law is thought to be one of the most comprehensive air quality laws in the world. He passed the Clean Water Act to control pollutant discharges into U.S. waters. This law protects drinking water sources for more than 117 million Americans from becoming contaminated. He also passed the Endangered Species Act, which of course protects endangered species from going extinct and preserves our food chain.
Nixon is also the one who established the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 1970. The U.S. EPA was created for the purpose of protecting human health and the environment. To sum it up, Nixon, a Republican, enacted some of the toughest environmental regulations of any president in U.S. history.
Ironically, every one of his landmark achievements is now at risk of being rolled back, eliminated, or defunded by current President Donald Trump, who claims environmental regulations are bad for the economy. Click here to take action. But enough about Trump.
President Jimmy Carter (Democrat) is another president worth our attention. In 1979, Carter became the first president to ever put solar panels on the White House. At the time, the Arab oil embargo had caused a national energy crisis, with oil prices jumping from $3 per barrel to $12 per barrel. Carter called for a campaign to conserve energy across the country and decided to put up 32 solar panels on the White House to set a good example. In his first year as president, he created the Department of Energy, passed the Soil and Water Conservation Act, and the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act.
He also helped to further strengthen the Clean Air Act by setting limits on industrial sources of pollution. A critical component was establishing fines equal to the cost of cleanup for companies that did not comply. Carter understood the American people shouldn’t foot the bill for industry’s pollution (something Democrats and Republicans today should seriously think about).
In early 1980, Carter signed legislation to give the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency funding to clean up abandoned toxic waste dumps (aka “Superfund sites”). And, he pushed for the passage of the Alaskan National Interest Lands Conservation Act, which provided special protection to over 100 million acres of land, including national parks, national forests, and wild and scenic rivers. All of these achievements land him on our list of “green” presidents to celebrate.
Next up, President Teddy Roosevelt (Republican). President Roosevelt was considered the first modern environmentalist president. During his presidency, Roosevelt took aggressive actions to preserve the balance of the natural world. He signed at least 50 executive orders protecting natural resources and wildlife. For example, in 1903, plumes for women’s hats were in high demand and that had led to the decimation of shorebird populations. After visiting Pelican Island in Florida to see for himself, Roosevelt created the Pelican Island Bird Reservation.
Through the Forest Reserve Act, he protected 150 million acres of land as public land. This eventually lead to the creation of the U.S. Forest Service. Year after year, he continued his crusade, protecting more land and more species from being devastated.
Roosevelt was an avid hunter and taxidermist, but he understood that if the actions of hunters, miners, and timber cutters weren’t controlled, they could pose a serious threat to entire ecosystems. For Roosevelt, it was about balance, so that everyone who enjoyed and depended upon our natural resources could continue to benefit.
Last but not least is President Barack Obama (Democrat). Now, we should probably mention that Green For All has a special affinity for this president. Inspired by our co-founder Van Jones’s best-selling book The Green Collar Economy, Jones served at the President’s request as special advisor on green jobs.
Many of Obama’s policies helped to jumpstart the green economy and bring it to disadvantaged communities. In 2009, Obama’s stimulus package not only helped the U.S. out of the Great Recession, it also invested billions in clean energy technology. These programs helped to make wind and solar energy more affordable in the last nine years. Obama also helped to fund the Green Jobs Act, which put hundreds of thousands of Americans to work building a more sustainable future.
What some people probably don’t know is that Obama also fought to bring justice to coal miners. He put forth the POWER Plus Plan, which would have deployed $1 billion for workforce and economic development in coal communities feeling the effects of a global transition to a new clean energy economy. His proposal was blocked by the Republican-controlled Congress. But that didn’t stop him. He found a way for his idea to move forward through the POWER Initiative. This initiative began awarding some smaller grants available for economic and workforce development projects in Appalachia and other coal communities across the country.
Obama also played an international leadership role on climate change, signing on to a global agreement to curb climate change known as the Paris Climate Agreement. In 2015, he introduced the Clean Power Plan to address one of the largest sources of the U.S.’s share of climate pollution: power plants. It was the first ever federal rule to limit pollution from power plants. Overall, Obama made protecting the environment a important cornerstone of his presidency.
Take action to defend these presidents’ legacy:
Tell the U.S. EPA to protect Clean Air.
Help us spread the message on social media (use #GreenForAll #PresidentsDay):
- Name two Republican presidents who were "green." Check your answers at greenforall.org/greenpresidentsday #GreenForAll #PresidentsDay
Who was the first President to put solar panels on the White House? Check your answer at greenforall.org/greenpresidentsday #GreenForAll #PresidentsDay
- Can you name four Presidents who were "green"? Hint: Being green isn’t partisan: greenforall.org/greenpresidentsday #GreenForAll #PresidentsDay
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A Refugee No Longer in Flight
Vien Truong, the new CEO of the Van Jones-founded Dream Corps, digs in for a fight.
If you want to see Vien Truong get angry, ask her about lead in paint chips.
“My kids play in the playground, in the dirt, and then put [contaminated soil] in their mouths,” says Truong, a longtime activist and resident of Oakland’s Fruitvale neighborhood, where inhabitants have more lead in their blood than the residents of Flint, Michigan. The mother of four-year-old twins, Truong was recently named the CEO of Dream Corps, the nonprofit founded by another well-known environmental fighter, Van Jones. “They’re also at a risk because of a lack of investment in this community,” she continues, “a failed school system, increased job insecurity, and increasing levels of desperation, which lead to increasing levels of crime and violence.” Because of all these problems, she says, people who live in Fruitvale are expected to live eight years less than those in Walnut Creek. “My work my whole life has been to change that.”
Oregon has an opportunity to pass a bold law that would cap and price climate pollution. If this bill passes, the largest polluters will finally be made to pay for their pollution. Best of all, proceeds will go toward putting Oregonians to work in the community making clean power like solar available to more people, upgrading homes and businesses to use less energy and save people money, building affordable housing near transit and investing in more transportation options. We're inviting you to join us for a day of action in support of passing Clean Energy Jobs legislation in Oregon.Read more
While Trump attacks clean energy progress, these students envision a more sustainable future.Read more
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – Monday, January 8th, 2017
Lead in Oakland School Water Still a Problem, say Parents and Local Groups
Coalition Calls for Stronger Action to Protect Kids
Oakland, CA – As kids come back to school today, tests continue to show problems with lead-tainted water at a number of Oakland schools. With the most recent tests, 45 Oakland schools and child development centers have now had at least one water tap that's failed to meet the pediatrician guideline for lead in school drinking water. Parents and local groups are calling for stronger action and a comprehensive policy that will ensure the water at Oakland schools is always safe for kids to drink.Read more
November 1, 2017.
OAKLAND (KRON) — New tests have revealed that high levels of lead have been detected in several Bay Area schools’ water.This time, seven schools have tested higher than federal regulations allow.
In a news conference on Wednesday, a local organization is calling for someone to deal with this serious situation.
Crocker Highlands was one of 50 schools recently tested in the Oakland Unified School District. “And that’s certainly a start, but this isn’t enough,” CALPIRG Public Health Advocate Jason Pfeifle said.
Calling on the Oakland Unified School District to step in and immediately take action, the group of activists, parents, doctors and a school board member addressed the recent test results revealing seven schools in the district showed higher levels than allowed by federal standards.Read more
By Jill Tucker, for SF Gate. November 1, 2017
Oakland parents and community activists called on school officials Wednesday (November 1) to adopt a policy that ensures students have access to safe drinking water, an outcry spurred by test results showing faucets at seven school sites had high levels of lead.
“We’re talking about the water in schools being dangerous to our kids,” said Vien Truong, CEO of The Dream Corps / Green For All, and an Oakland mother whose child is in kindergarten. “Our families already have too much to worry about — they shouldn’t have to fear drinking water at schools.”
School board member Roseann Torres said she expects the panel to vote before the end of the year on setting testing requirements and possibly reducing allowable lead levels in school drinking water.Read more
Green For All's Kim Noble travelled to Charleston, West Virginia this week, where the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency held a 2-day public hearing on its proposal to repeal The Clean Power Plan.
The Trump Administration believes that power plants should be allowed to pollute our communities as much as they want without repercussions. Through an executive order, Donald Trump directed the EPA to take steps to roll back The Clean Power Plan -- the only federal protection we have that limits power plant pollution. But it's not that easy.
We can stand up and speak out to stop this from happening. Our health should come first. And our communities can't afford to keep sending kids and seniors to the hospital with breathing problems, or pay the increasing cost of asthma medication simply because no one is holding big polluters accountable. These are health problems we can prevent.
U.S. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt put forth a proposal to repeal the Clean Power Plan, per Trump's directive. Now, it's time for us all to speak up.
Hear from two women Kim met at the hearing:
We know most people can't travel to Charleston to testify. That's why we created a page where you can submit your own public comment here: greenforall.org/cleanpowerplan
The EPA is taking public comments on the proposal now through January 16, 2018. We will make sure to deliver your comments directly to the EPA.
Together we can and we will make sure that the Clean Power Plan moves forward, and our communities can breathe clean air. Thanks for doing your part.
Green For All's policy director, Kerene Tayloe, joined Young People For for a real conversation about what the Trump Administration's proposal to repeal the Clean Power Plan means for families.
Listen in, then take action!
The U.S. EPA is taking public comments now through January 16, 2018 on its proposal to repeal the Clean Power Plan. We need you to speak out for clean air for all.
Submit your public comments supporting the Clean Power Plan here: greenforall.org/cleanpowerplan