In a move that puts his conservation record on par with some of the country’s greenest leaders, President Bush today created three marine national monuments that will protect 195,280 square miles of vulnerable island and ocean ecosystems in the Pacific, the Washington Post reports. The announcement is in sharp contrast with Bush’s record on other environmental issues such as climate change and drilling.
The designation will drastically cut oil and gas exploration in the areas, as well as commercial fishing. Permits will be required for recreational fishing. Bush also set aside more than 138,000 square miles of marine reserve in 2006, which means that by the end of his term he will have conserved more ocean than anyone in history. "This move, by itself, is a really positive move,” said a leading conservationist. “The net gain is a question we will have to address years from now."