Late president’s environmental legacy honored at funeral

Source: By Hannah Northey, E&E News reporter • Posted: Thursday, December 6, 2018

The late President George H.W. Bush’s environmental legacy was emphasized today at his funeral, when world leaders, family and friends gathered at the National Cathedral to pay their respects.

Former Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, speaking at the cathedral, applauded the former president’s efforts to curb acid rain. Bush died Friday in his Houston home. He was 94.

“President Bush’s decision to go forward with strong environmental legislation, including the Clear Air Act, resulted in the acid rain accord with Canada, is a splendid gift to future generations of Americans and Canadians to savor in the air they breathe and water they drink, the forests they enjoy and the lakes, rivers and streams they cherish,” he said.

Mulroney was referring to his cooperation with Bush in the late 1980s on a plan that tackled acid rain. In the summer of 1990, Bush proposed the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990, language that used a market-based approach to halve sulfur dioxide emissions from coal-fired power plants, which reacted in the air to produce harmful acid rain.

Bush has also been credited with an effort that’s led to the release of major climate reports the Trump administration is currently dismissing.

In 1990, Bush signed legislation that started the National Climate Assessment, a sweeping study documenting climate change’s impacts on the United States. The Trump administration released the latest iteration on Black Friday and has since downplayed its definitive body of research, making false claims about its accuracy and inadvertently drawing more attention to the clear science that shows Americans will be increasingly at risk as a result of climate change (Climatewire, Dec. 3).

Mulroney joined others — former President George W. Bush and former Wyoming Sen. Alan Simpson (R) — in celebrating Bush’s life and legacy at the event, which was attended by the Obamas, the Clintons, President Trump and first lady Melania Trump.

“There’s a word for that,” said Mulroney. “It’s called leadership.”