This paper traces the public speech of presidents on the environment from Richard Nixon to the middle of the administration of George W. Bush. It analyzes the environmental rhetoric of these presidents against a set of key themes that have persisted through this period. The analysis documents considerable variation in presidential environmental rhetoric, as might be expected across administrations with different political ideologies and styles. But it also reveals a high degree of commonality in the way presidents have talked about the environment. The paper argues that both the commonalities and the differences tell us something about ourselves as a polity and help us understand American environmentalism.

Jonathan Z. Cannon & Jonathan Riehl, Presidential Greenspeak: How Presidents Talk about the Environment and What it Means, 23 Stanford Environmental Law Journal, 195–272 (2004).