“The presidency of George W. Bush won’t be remembered as a particularly green one,” said Doug Bates in The Oregonian, “but it will certainly boast an admirable shade of blue.” Bush on Tuesday sealed his legacy as “the Teddy Roosevelt of the oceans” by creating the world’s largest protected marine sanctuary, three underwater national parks covering 195,000 square miles of "priceless and amazing” Pacific Ocean.
Combined with an earlier reserve off Hawaii, Bush has now set aside more than 300,000 square miles of ocean, said USA Today in an editorial. That’s praiseworthy, but it's too bad Bush only takes the green route “when there is no substantial business interest arguing the other side.” When money is at stake, he almost always sides with big business over the environment.
Yes, the newly protected areas are “staggeringly far away and not notably prized” by “corporate interests,” said The New York Times in an editorial. But—“strange but true”—Bush “is going down in history as a protector of the oceans.” This “environmental trophy” comes with a few “enormous asterisks”—the areas could have been bigger, the protections “more stringent”—but he gets to put it on his mantel.
Given those asterisks, said Vikki Spruill in The Washington Post, “what is most significant about this move is the opportunity it creates for President-elect Barack Obama.” Bush took a significant step in protecting our crucial ocean ecosystem, but Obama can build on it to create “a blue presidential legacy” that even “Teddy Roosevelt would envy.”