Lawmakers support business approach to environment

The Associated Press
Friday February 09, 2001

WASHINGTON — A business approach to managing the environment that uses terms “performance-based” and “market-driven” won the backing Thursday of two senior Republicans and a Democrat who help steer natural resources policy. 

In an 18-page document described as a nonpartisan blueprint for lawmakers, the Business Roundtable laid out a program for “constructive changes in our environmental protection system.” 

The group, which comprises chief executives of large companies, said free trade and environmental flexibility should  

be emphasized. 

The document also recommended that lawmakers help shift regulatory controls away from the Environmental Protection Agency and toward the states along with voluntary self-auditing, approaches that have been endorsed by new EPA Administrator Christie Whitman, New Jersey’s former governor. 

Other goals include a “better alignment of energy and environmental policies” and an overall climate of fewer regulations on businesses in order to reduce barriers on developing new technology. 

Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairman Bob Smith, R-N.H., described the group’s approach as serious and thoughtful. 

“Our goal is to ensure a clean environment in harmony with a strong economy,” he said.  

“By embracing innovation in the private sector, coupled with cooperation and not confrontation, we can achieve the environmental goals we set forward to accomplish.” 

Smith said the blueprint would “get the full attention it deserves from my committee” in addressing bills on everything from cleaning up abandoned industrial sites to reauthorizing the Clean Air Act. 

Two other lawmakers – Reps. Sherwood Boehlert, R-N.Y., Chairman of the House Science Committee, and Rick Boucher, D-W.Va., senior Democrat on the House Commerce Committee’s energy and power subcommittee — also described the plan as sensible. 

Industry leaders were represented by Earnest W. Deavenport Jr., chairman and CEO of Eastman Chemical Co.; Fred Webber, president of the American Chemistry Council; and American Forest and Paper Association President Henson Moore. 

Ben Beach, a spokesman for the Wilderness Society, said some industries seem to think “the Bush administration is going to get the gravy train up and running.” 

But, he said, “More and more, everyone is realizing that a healthy environment and a strong economy go hand in hand, and that, by and large, you’re going to have a stronger economy if you protect your lands, air and water.” 


On the Net: The Business Roundtable blueprint: http://www.brtable.org/document.cfm/496