In 1990, President George Bush signed the single largest piece of environmental legislation ever passed - The 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments. Ironically, in 2001 congressional Democrats will be debating whether to support an initiative to reauthorize the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments while at the same time, the Supreme Court will maintain their hold as the single most influential power impacting the interpretation and implementation of environmental legislation. One could easily concur that our Nationns view of environmental protection is a microcosm of the partisanship that exists in the legislative body.
The 2001 Bush Administration environmental agenda is predicted to first safeguard the economy, for without a strong economy environmental protection becomes insignificant. Therefore, it is not surprising that this Administra-tion will focus on removing perceived environmental barriers that detrimentally effect economic prosperity. As a basis for this, the Republican National Committeens (RNC) environmental principles reiterate the desire for economic prosperity and environmental protection advancing simultaneously using "best science," peer-review, and public consideration as the basis. In the words of the RNC 2000 platform:
"We support the federal, local, state, and tribal responsibilities for environmental protection. We believe the government's main role should be to provide market-based incentives to innovate and develop the new technologies for Americans to meet - and exceed - environmental standards. Environmental policy should focus on achieving results - cleaner air, water, and lands - not crafting bureaucratic processes. Where environmental standards are violated, the government should take consistent enforcement."
So what does this mean to Americans and how can the impact to business and industry be foreseen? For those in the conservative republican extreme, be cautious in believing everything spewed from the media icon Rush Limbaugh and others that draw insight on environmental issues from the likes of disenfranchised business owners. George W. Bush is a Republican who appreciates that short-term economic gains realized at the expense of a clean environment can lead to long-term economic stress.
Likewise, for those in the other extreme, preaching doom and gloom and gleaning their latest opinions from extreme views portrayed by the likes of Greenpeace - relax! Our environment is not going to "hell in a hand-basket." It is anticipated that George W. will consider the opinions of opposing parties before making critical decisions. Furthermore, the house is practically split, which minimizes the possibility of any major legislation being passed that placates the extremists of either party.
Some issues to watch for include the strategy expected to be deployed addressing energy demands. It is the RNC's belief that the EPA's regulatory interpretations of the legislation have created a "choke hold," limiting America's ability to obtain energy resources from within our own national boundaries. Count on the strategy to involve congressional Republicans to enact a National Energy Security Act, which focuses on tax incentives for emission-free technologies and increased domestic procurement of coal, oil and natural gas.
One issue the Bush administration can be expected to grasp is the simple concept that as population increases, energy demand will increase proportionately, however, they are somewhat naeve regarding the sustainable relationship between the economy, environment, and energy. Do not look for this administration to address any real sustainable energy solutions that include the use of alternative energy. Much needed research capital to support alternative energy will more than likely be funneled into improving exploration and associated technologies designed to procure existing sources of energy in an environmentally sound and efficient way.
Because it is anticipated that the Bush Administration will "underfund" alternative energy initiatives, we should expect foreign nations, which are economically supporting alternative fuel technologies, especially those in the transportation market, to beat America to the market thereby reaping market share and economic benefits. Germanyns BMW and Japan's Honda are already well ahead of GM, Ford and Chrysler in alternative fuel technologies. Look for us to respond much like we did with the quality initiative, arriving after the reception has already begun.
In summary, it is safe to assume that America will spend at least the next four years as we have spent the last - environmental gridlock. And maybe this is for the better. We moved so fast rolling out new rules and regulations between 1970 and 1990, that a slow down allowing more time to readjust our principles and values is perhaps needed. We have an opportunity to support a President that wants us "all to get along" and derive conclusions by listening to competing arguments. George W. stands in support of this bipartisan approach as long as we are willing to arrive using coal, oil or gas.