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President George W. Bush will never be remembered for his great environmental stewardship, but in the absolute last days of his administration, he’s making moves to add a touch of green—or blue, rather—to his legacy. Today, Bush will protect 195,280 square miles of U.S.-controlled Pacific Ocean habitat by declaring them marine national monuments.
Once signed, the executive order will preserve portions of islands, surface waters, reefs, atolls, and even portions of the sea floor that are critical habitat for hundreds of sensitive and rare species of birds, fish, and other animals. The designation would also include the Mariana Trench, the deepest spot in the world.
Bush needs no congressional approval to move forward with plans, and many environmental groups have praised Bush for his last-minute efforts to grow a green conscience. Bush has always shown more affinity for protecting the ocean than the land; he created the 139,000-square-mile Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument in the northwest Hawaiian Islands two years ago.
“With the designation of the world’s largest marine reserve in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands in 2006, and now these three other sites, George W. Bush has done more to protect unique areas of the world’s oceans than any other person in history,” said Joshua Reichert, managing director of the Pew Environmental Group.
You see? It’s never too late to go green—even if you’re a Bush.