Wednesday, June 12, 2013

NEGATIVE MYTH VS THE RECORD: Reagan, the Environmentalist | The Weekly Standard

Mention Ronald Reagan to an avowed environmentalist, and you’ll generally elicit a groan. In the conventional telling, the Gipper appointed right-wing extremists to key environmental positions and proceeded to give timber companies and energy interests a free hand to despoil nature. Had Congress not stopped him, the tale goes, all of the environmental progress of the 1970s would have been swept away in the 1980s.


This tale fits certain historical narratives, and Reagan’s successor, George H. W. Bush, arguably helped promote it by allowing his own appointees, some of them drawn from the ranks of professional environmentalists, to criticize the Reagan administration and its policies.

Reagan’s actual environmental record is quite a bit more nuanced. It’s true he did not follow the command-and-control regulatory approach favored by his predecessor, Jimmy Carter, or even fellow California Republican Richard Nixon, who created the Environmental Protection Agency and signed both the Clean Water Act and the Clean Air Act. But the approach Reagan did take​—​endeavoring to protect nature without expanding government or hurting the economy​—​may offer a blueprint, particularly in these times of sharp partisan division, for a conservation agenda that small government conservatives, libertarians, and conservationists alike can embrace.

The enduring legacy of Reagan’s conservation agenda is a set of approaches that flowed directly out of, rather than in spite of, his free-market ideology and were implemented, in part, by those people derided as dangerous “ideologues.” They include limiting government subsidies to all manner of environmental destruction; ensuring that costs are attached to environmentally harmful activities; and opening public lands for multiple uses...............

FULL ARTICLE HERE: Reagan, the Environmentalist | The Weekly Standard

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