Green Legislation — Roosevelt Administrations

President Theodore Roosevelt - 1904
President Theodore Roosevelt
President Franklin D. Roosevelt - 1933
President Franklin D. Roosevelt

This 2nd of 3 posts looks at green legislation enacted during the presidencies of Theodore Roosevelt and Franklin D. Roosevelt. President Theodore Roosevelt broadened the use of executive power, involved the U.S. in world politics, and expanded the amount of public land under protection. President Franklin D. Roosevelt led the U.S. through the Great Depression and World War II.

Theodore Roosevelt – 26th President (1901-1909)

Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge – Established in 1903

The first national wildlife refuge, Florida’s Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge, was created on March 15, 1903, via an Executive Order signed by President Theodore Roosevelt.

Brown Pelican Flying Over Pelican Island - Photo: Nick Wirwa USFWS

In the late 1800s, bird feathers were in great demand for fashion, which resulted in the Island’s herons, egrets, spoonbills, and pelicans being killed for their feathers. A German immigrant, Paul Kroegel, ornithologist, Frank Chapman, bird advocate, William Dutcher, the American Ornithologist’s Union, and the Florida Audubon Society all contributed to the protection of Pelican Island.

Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge was a forerunner of the National Wildlife Refuge System developed as the result of numerous pieces of legislation.

Antiquities Act of 1906

The Antiquities Act of 1906, signed by President Theodore Roosevelt on June 8, 1906, was the first law to provide legal protection for archaeological sites and artifacts on public land. It required federal agencies to preserve and protect historic, scientific, commemorative, and cultural values of sites and structures on public land.

Muir Woods National Monument - Photo: National Park Service
Muir Woods National Monument

Another feature of the Antiquities Act authorized the President to protect landmarks, structures, and objects of historic or scientific interest by designating them as National Monuments. President Theodore Roosevelt used this privilege to establish the first 18 National Monuments including Muir Woods and the Grand Canyon.

President Theodore Roosevelt is credited with placing 150 million acres of public land under protection in National Parks (5), National Forests (150), Federal Bird Reserves (51), National Game Reserves (4), and National Monuments (18).

Franklin D. Roosevelt – 33rd President (1933-1944)

Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) – 1933-1942

To implement the New Deal’s Emergency Conservation Work (ECW) Act signed into law on March 31, 1933; President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued Executive Order 6101 on April 5, 1933, establishing the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC).

The CCC was created to provide jobs for hundreds of thousands of young unmarried men during the Great Depression.

Civilian Conservation Corps Planting Trees in Lolo National Forest, Montana - Photo: U.S. Forest ServiceOver 3 million men participated in the CCC. Their many accomplishments include planting nearly 3 billion trees, constructing 800 parks, erecting 3,470 fire towers, building 97,000 miles of fire roads, and devoting 4,235,000 man-days fighting fires. The CCC improved streams built small dams and completed flood control projects. Under the direction of the Soil Conservation Service, 500 CCC camps worked on soil erosion control to prevent another situation like the Dust Bowl of the 1930s.

Although the original CCC was disbanded in 1942, several new organizations have arisen over the years building on their legacy.

Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic (FD&C) Act of 1938

The Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic (FD&C) Act was signed into law on June 25, 1938, by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, giving the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) the authority to oversee the safety of food, drugs, and cosmetics. The FD&C replaced the earlier Pure Food and Drug Act, signed by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1906.

The purpose of the FD&C Act was to protect the public from unsafe food, phony therapeutic claims for drugs, cosmetics with harmful ingredients, and false advertising.

Woman Reading Food Label - Photo: U.S. FDAThe FD&C Act defined food (which now includes bottled water), drugs, medical devices (ranging from thermometers to implants), food additives (including colorings), dietary supplements, and cosmetics. It required pre-market approval of new drugs and drugs be labeled with adequate directions for safe use. Cosmetics and medical devices came under the control of the FDA. The Wheeler-Lea Act passed in 1938, granted the U.S. Federal Trade Commission the authority to oversee advertising of all products regulated by U.S. FDA, except prescription drugs.

Since its inception, the FD&C Act has been amended numerous times to include requirements for fair packaging and labeling, nutritional labeling, and education, controlled substances, bioterrorism, and has undergone several modernization acts.

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