Jimmy Carter on Environment

President of the U.S., 1977-1981


God gave Man dominion to care for nature

I was born into a Christian family, nurtured as a Southern Baptist, and have been in weekly Bible lessons all my life.

At least one Sunday each year was devoted to protection of the environment, or stewardship of the earth. My father and the other farmers in the congregation would pay close attention to the pastors' sermons, based on such texts as "The earth is the Lord's, and the fullness thereof." When humans were given domination over the land, water, fish, animals, and all of nature, the emphasis was on careful management and enhancement, not waste or degradation.

Source: Our Endangered Values, by Jimmy Carter, p. 16-19 , Sep 26, 2006

Agricultural subsidies for families now go to rich farmers

A gross example of subsidizing the wealthy involves my own lifetime profession of farming. Agricultural subsidies were a crucial factor in the survival of many farm families during the Great Depression, and were designed specifically for that purpose. These kinds of subsidies are still justified, but, perhaps not surprisingly, the rich farmers have harvested more federal government subsidies over the years, while poorer families have not. During the last decade, we taxpayers have had to fork over an average of $14 billion annually for subsidies, of which 70% went to just 10% of the farmers, and 25% to the top 1% of recipients. The most fortunate American "farmer" received $7 million in 2002, and in Georgia, 7 "farmers" received annual subsidies of more than $1 million! Thanks to powerful lobbyists, the worthy ideal of helping struggling farm families to survive has been abandoned. The USDA estimated in 2005 that fewer than 25% of farms receive support payments.
Source: Our Endangered Values, by Jimmy Carter, p.196 , Sep 26, 2006

Strengthened role & perception of the EPA

The Carter administration sought to move government into a more aggressive role with regard to the environment. Carter boosted the budget for the EPA and addressed specific environmental issues through his administration. A former farmer, Carter understood the importance of preservation of the environment and sought to strengthen both the role and the perception of the EPA during his tenure in office. When Reagan took office in 1981, he overrode much of the Carter environmental agenda.
Source: Cameron Lynch in W&M Env. Law Review, vol. 26 #1, p.221-222 , Jan 1, 2001

Preserved wilderness areas of Alaska

Other domestic accomplishments included the creation of new departments of education and energy; deregulation of the airlines to stimulate competition and lower fares; and environmental efforts that included passage of a law preserving vast wilderness areas of Alaska. He was unsuccessful also in gaining congressional approval of plans to consolidate natural-resource agencies within the Department of the Interior
Source: Grolier’s Encyclopedia, “The Presidency” , Dec 25, 2000

Established "Superfund" to clean up toxic waste sites

The lame-duck legislative session was remarkably productive. Action was completed on a landmark act establishing a "Superfund" to help ameliorate the blight of toxic-waste sites and -finally-on the Alaska lands bill for which I had waited so long.

The Superfund legislation set up a system of insurance premiums collected from the chemical industry to clean up toxic wastes. This new program may prove to be as far-reaching and important as any accomplishment of my administration. The reduction of the threat to America's health and safety from thousands of toxic-waste sites will continue to be an urgent but bitterly fought issue-another example for the conflict between the public welfare and the profits of a few private despoilers of our nation's environment.

Source: Keeping Faith, by Jimmy Carter, p.581-582 , Dec 2, 1980

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Other past presidents on Environment: Jimmy Carter on other issues:
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Barack Obama(D,2009-2017)
George W. Bush(R,2001-2009)
Bill Clinton(D,1993-2001)
George Bush Sr.(R,1989-1993)
Ronald Reagan(R,1981-1989)
Jimmy Carter(D,1977-1981)
Gerald Ford(R,1974-1977)
Richard Nixon(R,1969-1974)
Lyndon Johnson(D,1963-1969)
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Page last updated: Feb 22, 2022