Wednesday, January 7, 2009

The Environmental President

Marine environmentalists were pretty happy Tuesday after U.S. President George W. Bush set aside large areas of the central Pacific Ocean as sanctuaries for marine life and research. Bush's order sets up the largest marine sanctuary in the world -- 195,280 square miles -- to the surprise of critics who criticize him for opposing global warming mitigation measures and state limitations on offshore oil drilling. The Environmental Defense Fund and the Marine Conservation Biology Institute helped the White House identify eight of the nine sites that make up the sanctuary, according to Cable News Network (CNN). "For sea birds and marine life, they will be sanctuaries to grow and thrive. For scientists, they will be places to extend the frontiers of discovery," Bush said Tuesday at the White House. "And for the American people, they will be places that honor our duty to be good stewards of the Almighty's creation." Bush used the Antiquities Act of 1906 to make the sanctuary designations at Rose Atoll, Wake Island, Johnston Island, Palmyra Island, Kingman Reef, Baker Island, Howland Island and Jarvis Island, with the assistance of the EDF and MCBI, Reuters said. "Today's announcement marks an enormous step in conserving the biodiversity of our planet, said David Yarnold, EDF's executive director. "We are gratified that the president has given careful consideration to the scientific evidence and our recommendations to protect these areas." The ninth site, in an around the Mariana Islands, was recommended by the Pew Charitable Trusts, Reuters said. But the huge protection order was not unprecedented for the Bush administration. Two years ago, a similar Bush order created the 138,000-square-miles Hawaiian Islands Marine National Monument.

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