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Planet Earth

Bush's Green Legacy

Collide-a-ScapeBy Keith KloorMay 17, 2011 7:04 AM

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As the Guardian wrote in the waning days of George W. Bush's presidency, greens viewed his policies

as a concerted assault, from the administration's undermining of the science on climate change to its dismantling of environmental safeguards to its support for mining and oil interests.

Can you guess the one area where his actions stand in contrast to the aforementioned record? Here's a hint from a current Nature article:

The rush to create giant conservation areas was started by former US president George W. Bush, who created the record-breaking Papahānaumokuākea reserve in Hawaii in 2006. "It all went like dominoes after that," says Les Kaufman of Conservation International and Boston University in Massachusetts. Kaufman works in the Phoenix Islands Protected Area in the Central Pacific Ocean, which was set up in 2008. More followed in 2009 and 2010.

The Guardian, in another 2009 article, chronicled two more major reserves in the Pacific ocean established by Bush in the final weeks of his Administration, and reveals the hidden hand of First Lady Laura Bush,

who was credited with heading off determined opposition from the vice-president, Dick Cheney, as well as business leaders in the Mariana Islands who had lobbied on behalf of fishing and energy exploration.

Cheney. The man might as well have been President, as Barton Gellman showed. Not many bested him during his eight-year rein as the central power player in the White House. Somehow, he was outmaneuvered by Laura Bush on marine conservation issues, and that's the main reason why her husband has a legitimate green legacy, as crazy as that sounds.

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