Presidents influence environmental policy through strategies affecting legislation and through administrative tactics and means. In this study the administrative presidency and its resources are examined more as a means of influencing the course of environmentally related policies than as a vehicle for presidential coordination and oversight over a complex federal bureaucracy. The tools of the administrative presidency are analyzed as a means of promoting presidential policy goals in advancing environmentally related objectives as well as in constraining them, for example in the Ronald Reagan administrative presidency strategy. Some of the problems associated with both approaches are also explored.
Some presidential achievements and problems are examined in advancing conservation policy objectives in the first half of this century during the presidencies of Theodore Roosevelt and Franklin Roosevelt. More recent presidents have faced environmental policy problems more complex than the conservation policy goals that the two Roosevelts addressed. The presidencies of Jimmy Carter and George Bush are evaluated in their commitments to promote environmental goals through administrative means. They have been confronted with the challenges of maintaining economic growth and promoting greater energy supplies and balancing such goals with environmental protection.
Since F.D.R.'s presidency, chief executives have sought to achieve greater managerial control over a burgeoning federal executive establishment. Given the pressures and expectations of executive leadership by Congress and the public, presidents of both parties promoted the centralization and politicization of the institutional presidency, particularly through the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), in order to