The Bush Presidency and
President Bush inherited an enormous deficit problem, a savings and loan bailout and a nuclear weapons plant cleanup estimated to cost hundreds of billions of dollars, other neglected environmental problems, and a polarization between Congress and the White House. Although Bush claimed he was a conservationist and an environmentalist presidential candidate in 1988, environmentalists viewed his commitment and credentials with some suspicion since he had served as President Reagan's loyal lieutenant and chairman of the President's Task Force on Regulatory Relief. This chapter first examines the checks applied by Congress and the federal judiciary on the Reagan administrative presidency strategy in environmental policy and the legacy of that strategy. That discussion serves as an introduction to a more detailed examination of the Bush Administration's use of the tools of the administrative presidency in environmental policy. The administrative approach to regulatory policy is analyzed, along with some key environmental and energy issues in light of Bush's commitment to be an environmentalist president.
The Reagan Administration was unprecedented in its integrated approach and assault in reducing social regulations, particularly in the president's first term. It also demonstrated some of the practical difficulties for opponents of an administration to require it to enforce so many laws