George Bush Sr. on Environment

President of the U.S., 1989-1993; Former Republican Rep. (TX)


1989: America will lose no wetlands on my watch

The stories will shock you. A nurse separated from her small child and sentenced to 87 months in prison for moving dirt on her own land.

Did an arrogant and armed "wetlands police" arrive with the election of President Obama? No, this rogue government agency's origins come from a seemingly responsible piece of legislation called the Clean Water Act. In 1989, President George H. W. Bush vowed that America would lose no "wetlands" under his watch (a vow he unfortunately kept better than his "no new taxes" pledge). Under the 1st President Bush, a government wetlands manual was created that essentially emboldened federal agents' power, allowing them to seek out and punish private property owners for doing nothing more than moving dry dirt on dry land. The federal government had--however erroneously, illogically, or nonsensically--defined these dry areas as "wetlands." It turns out that a wetlands is simply whatever an agency like the EPA says it is.

Source: Government Bullies, by Rand Paul, p. xxvii , Sep 12, 2012

1990 Acid Rain trading program achieved its goals

Because the foundation for Clear Skies was the successful Acid Rain trading program advanced by President George H.W. Bush in 1990, we knew the technology to make these reductions was viable and affordable, and that it would not raise electricity costs for consumers. The timetables of Clear Skies achieved significant reductions that were reasonable, and the electric generating industry knew, from experience, that they could comply. Also, unlike most of our nation's environmental laws and regulations under the Clean Air Act, which have resulted in endless litigation, the Acid Rain program resulted in virtually no litigation and has achieved goals of substantial reductions in acid rain at less than the projected cost. Clear Skies similarly would have avoided that constant litigation.
Source: The Greatest Hoax, by James Inhofe, p. 51 , Feb 28, 2012

Bush-Clinton Katrina Fund for New Orleans relief

New Orleans to provide young people with a way to help the city rebuild.

In the lower Ninth Ward, which was virtually wiped out by Katrina, volunteers turned the first new homes over to residents. The project was organized by ACORN When Hurricane Katrina ravaged the Gulf Coast, President George W. Bush asked his father and me to help raise private funds to supplement the government's efforts.

The Bush-Clinton Katrina Fund also helped create a new City Year branch Community Organizations for Reform Now), which also provided the financing with support from a California bank. ACORN works to empower low- and moderate-income people through the grassroots activism of more than 200,000 members in one hundred communities all over America.

Source: Giving, by Bill Clinton, p. 10&45-5 , Sep 4, 2007

With Clinton, raised $14M for Asian tsunami reconstruction

Perhaps the most meaningful new-beginnings project I've ever participated in was the fundraising efforts with former President George H. W. Bush for the victims of the tsunami in southern Asia.

We tried to raise the overall level of America and put together a relatively small fund of about $1.4 million, out of which we financed the reconstruction of schools, health facilities, fishing boats, and other economic restoration efforts, and scholarships for students from Indonesia, by far the hardest-hit area, to study at Texas A&M and the University of Arkansas.

George and I got so excited by our tsunami work that we both wound up working on disasters two more years for U.N. secretary general Kofi Annan. I became the U.N. envoy for the tsunami restoration efforts; George did the same thing in Pakistan after the earthquake there.

Source: Giving, by Bill Clinton, p.106-107 , Sep 4, 2007

1953 Zapata Petroleum: sunk 71 wells, not one dry

The Bush-Overby Oil Development Company bought and sold oil rights on land ADJACENT to tracts where someone was planning to drill. The idea was to make money on the anticipated increase in land values without actually doing any drilling of their own.

There was not that much money to be made that way, however, and George was impatient. So in 1953 he started Zapata Petroleum Corp. This new outfit would purchase actual leases in the hopes of finding oil. A total of $850,000, nearly half of it from Uncle Herbie, went to secure and drill on 8,000 acres. A year later they had sunk 71 wells, and not a single one had come up dry. Zapata, and George, had struck it rich, and there was no turning back.

Bush lore invests much in this tale. Yes, there was basic, hard, grunt work involved in researching the land, in studying geological surveys, lining up financing, and so on. But in the end, the success of the venture was a matter of good fortune.

Source: America's Next Bush, by S.V. Date, p. 61 , Feb 15, 2007

Protect natural resources as hunter & outdoorsman

Bush took a much stronger stance on environmental protection than [Reagan]. Bush took note of environmental issues and attempted to find a true place for them in his administration. As a life-long hunter, fisherman, and outdoorsman, Bush knew the importance of protecting America's natural resources. Both the Bush campaign and the Bush presidency proved that the political importance of the environmental movement was not dead within the Republican Party.
Source: Cameron Lynch in W&M Env. Law Review, vol. 26 #1, p.223-224 , Jan 1, 2001

1988: Cited Gov. Dukakis' failure to clean up Boston Harbor

The 1988 Bush presidential campaign managed to turn the environmental issue around on Gov. Michael Dukakis during the 1988 cycle. Citing Dukakis' failure to protect Boston Harbor from pollution, Bush managed to establish himself as a more concerned environmentalist, as well as a candidate that would pursue sound environmental issues while in office.

When he arrived at the White House, Bush staked out aggressive policies in a number of environmental areas, including phasing out chlorofluorocarbons by the end of the century, protecting and developing clean air, and promoting a stable plan to initiate rapid reforestation of America's forest preserves. Bush appeared to champion environmental causes for the causes themselves, whereas previous Republican administrations appeared to have occasionally favored cost-benefit analysis.

Bush achieved some noted environmental successes by amending the Clean Air Act with the Pollution Prevention Act of 1990 and the Oil Pollution Acts.

Source: Cameron Lynch in W&M Env. Law Review, vol. 26 #1, p.224 , Jan 1, 2001

1991: Rejected requiring 25% recycling of incinerator waste

In Bush's major regulatory decision, one of the President's specially established environmental councils upheld Office of Information and Regulatory Affair's disapproval of a new source performance standard for incinerators that required recycling of 25% of waste streams. This decision proved specifically problematic, as the EPA had spent years developing this initiative and the Reagan OMB had previously cleared the policy. This decision negated some of the positive work Bush had done in the environmental areas & was interpreted as a resurgence of the kind of "anti-regulatory fervor that prevailed in the early days of the Reagan administration." Bush responded to these criticisms with frustration that bordered on anger. Additionally, Bush claimed that his battle with the environmental groups was one that he could never win because they were never willing to acknowledge any of his initiatives as successes.
Source: Cameron Lynch in W&M Env. Law Review, vol. 26 #1, p.225 , Jan 1, 2001

Onerous environmental regulation will cause job loss

BUSH: [to Clinton]: One mistake [Clinton] has made is fuel efficiency standards at 40 to 45 miles a gallon will throw auto workers out of work. There's a pattern here of appealing to the auto workers and then trying to appeal to the spotted owl crowds or the extremes in the environmental movement.

CLINTON: Let's talk about fuel efficiency standards. They are now 27.5 miles per gallon per automobile fleet. We ought to have a goal of raising the fuel efficiency standards to 40 miles a gallon. We ought to have incentives to do it. It is good for America to improve fuel efficiency. We also ought to convert more vehicles to compressed natural gas. That's another way to improve the environment.

Source: The Third Clinton-Bush-Perot Presidential Debate , Oct 19, 1992

Balance economy with environment

We were in the middle of trying to decide whether I should attend the UN Conference on Environment and Development, to be held in Rio de Janeiro in June. Even though we knew the agenda would be liberal, I felt I should go and eventually did. I received a taped message, "Go to Brazil," from Olivia Newton-John and a group of other Hollywood celebrities.

A final decision will be made very soon. This is a very rough and ugly year as I am sure you know. I hope you will look over the attached pamphlet. I hope it conveys to you my fundamental and total commitment to sound environmental policy.

Everyone understands that there is a lot of economic hurt in our country today. People without jobs are hurting and those with jobs often wonder if they will have those jobs tomorrow. We must consider not only the critical environmental needs, but also the economic needs of so many American families. I am confident that both needs can be met--they must be met.

Source: Letter from George Bush in All The Best, p.556 , Apr 16, 1992

Earth will be preserved by millions of small daily decisions

"If it's true, as some say, that we're all borrowing the earth from future generations, it's also true that the earth will be preserved by millions of small decisions made every day by every one of us. And they're the kind of small decisions that make a world of difference, whether it's recycling aluminum cans, conserving water, turning off a lightbulb, even just keeping the refrigerator door closed."
(Remarks at the Presidential Environmental Youth Awards, Old Executive Office Building, Room 450.)
Source: Heartbeat, by Jim McGrath, p.128 , Nov 14, 1990

Look for common ground: economic growth & clean environment

I spoke the other day about wanting to broaden the consensus for defense, but that's not the only consensus that I would like to broaden. I want to broaden the consensus for a clean environment, and I believe doing that requires finding ways the environment without stifling the economy. During the campaign I noted that environmental action has too often been marked by confrontation among competing interests. Well, the fact is that more often than not there is common ground if the will make an effort to find it. Our great common desire is a better life for all Americans. And I believe that economic growth and a clean environment are both part of what all Americans understand a better life to mean. I also believe that t people are impatient for results. They won't accept excuses anymore. And they won't accept finger pointing. They want us to get all the sides together and find a way to achieve both their goals
Source: Swearing-in Ceremony for EPA Administrator (APP) , Feb 8, 1989

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Other past presidents on Environment: George Bush Sr. on other issues:
Former Presidents:
Barack Obama(D,2009-2017)
George W. Bush(R,2001-2009)
Bill Clinton(D,1993-2001)
George Bush Sr.(R,1989-1993)
Ronald Reagan(R,1981-1989)
Jimmy Carter(D,1977-1981)
Gerald Ford(R,1974-1977)
Richard Nixon(R,1969-1974)
Lyndon Johnson(D,1963-1969)
John F. Kennedy(D,1961-1963)
Dwight Eisenhower(R,1953-1961)
Harry S Truman(D,1945-1953)

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V.P.Joseph Biden
V.P.Dick Cheney
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V.P.Dan Quayle
Sen.Bob Dole

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Page last updated: Feb 22, 2022