MICHAEL E. KRAFT
On March 11, 1983, upon the resignation of Anne Burford, administrator of the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), President Ronald Reagan said at a news conference, "there is environmental extremism" in the United States, and "I don't think they'll be happy until the White House looks like a bird's nest" ( New York Times 1983). His remarks called to mind similarly critical comments about environmentalism during the 1980 campaign, in which he alleged that trees were a major contributor to air pollution for which industry was too readily blamed. Both statements reflected the president's firm belief that environmental policy was considerably less important to the nation than economic growth, and they symbolized his administration's determined efforts to reverse many of the policy achievements of the "environmental decade" of the 1970s to promote economic gains.
In a carefully crafted attempt to signal his break from the Reagan environmental record, George Bush said during the 1988 presidential campaign, "I would be a Republican president in the Teddy Roosevelt tradition. A conservationist. An environmentalist" ( Bush 1988). He went on to name the president of the World Wildlife Fund/Conservation Foundation, William Reilly, as administrator of the EPA, a move praised by environmentalists. And in June 1989 he proposed legislation to strengthen the Clean Air Act, including a provision for acid rain control blocked by his predecessor. Late in 1989, he also commented on the role of trees in environmental protection. Describing them as the "oldest, cheapest, and most efficient air purifier on Earth," he asked private landowners to plant 1 billion trees a year for the next ten years. U.S. citizens were urged to volunteer to plant another 30 million per year in a Community "Plant-a-Tree" Initiative (Office of Management and Budget 1990). As