Bush and the Environment: Pacific Protection Is Too Little Too Late

Good for him, eight years too late

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By Robert Schlesinger, Thomas Jefferson Street blog

When, in the waning days of his term, the outgoing president designated huge areas for special wilderness protection, the incoming president was not pleased at all. "We are reviewing all 11th-hour executive orders, rules, and regulations," a spokesman for the incoming president said.

The incoming president, so annoyed at such displays of lame-duck power, was George W. Bush. The president-elect joined conservatives howling in protest when, three days before the transfer of power, Bill Clinton designated more than 1 million acres of western land as national monuments. Ah, how times have changed (and not simply because the spokesman was Scott McClellan).

The Bush administration told reporters Monday that he would be designating 195,280 square miles (an area the size of Washington and Oregon combined) as ... national monuments.

Conservative howls of protest have this time been muted, presumably because western landowners are less concerned about federal encroachment on the Mariana Trench. And in the meantime, Bush gets to bolster his environmental reputation (the words too little and too late come to mind).

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