Blueprint for New-Era Environmentalism

Published April 1, 2001

A business approach to managing the environment that uses such terms as “performance-based” and “market-driven” won the backing February 8 of two senior Republicans and Democrats who help steer natural resources policy.

In its new report, Blueprint 2001: Drafting Environmental Policy for the Future, The Business Roundtable (BRT) laid out a program for “constructive changes in our environmental protection system.” Roundtable CEOs, joined by key congressional leaders at the report’s Washington, DC release, said traditional tools are no longer adequate to protect our environment while preserving economic growth.

“The new environmental challenges of the global economy and information age demand new solutions,” said Earnie Deavenport, chairman and CEO of Eastman Chemical Company and chairman of BRT’s Environment, Technology and the Economy Task Force. “We need to change the way business approaches the environment and the way the government achieves environmental improvement.”

Building on recommendations from task force members representing government, think tanks, and the private sector, BRT’s Blueprint offers a comprehensive framework for modernizing the nation’s environmental protection system. It calls for new partnerships among the business community, federal and state governments, and communities to solve environmental challenges.

“Improving our environmental protection system is a long-term effort,” said Deavenport, “but action to keep this process moving forward needs to be taken now. Our Blueprint recommends concrete implementation steps to Congress and the administration, and we will be working closely with both branches of government to bring these proposals to fruition.”

Key Congressional support

Joining Deavenport at the news conference were Sen. Robert C. Smith (R-New Hampshire) and Representatives Sherwood Boehlert (R-New York), Rick Boucher (D-Virginia), and Cal Dooley (D-California).

Smith praised the BRT effort. “Blueprint 2001 is a serious and well thought-out approach to environmental protection,” he said. “I have followed and espoused a set of principles that are in harmony with what the BRT is unveiling here today.

“By embracing innovation in the private sector, coupled with cooperation and not confrontation,” Smith continued, “we can achieve the environmental goals we set forward to accomplish. We must all be stewards of the environment and focus on the next generation, not the next election.”

Smith, recently named chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, promised the Blueprint “will get the full attention it deserves from my committee and me as we move forward on our agenda for 2001.”

Like Smith, Boehlert, Boucher, and Dooley hold key positions on committees that regularly address environment issues. Boehlert is chairman of the House Science Committee; Boucher is a leading member of the House Energy and Air Quality Subcommittee; and Dooley is the ranking member of the Water and Power Subcommittee.

Sustainability the guiding principle

The BRT Blueprint is based on the concept of sustainability, emphasizing the links between economic growth, superior environmental performance, and rising standards of living for a growing world population. It advocates using science and technology to solve problems, focusing on results and creating incentives for improvement.

“Technology is the key to meeting our economic and environmental goals in a sustainable manner,” said Eastman’s Deavenport. “Now is the time to use our capacity for technological innovation to attack existing and emerging environmental problems on the national and global levels.”

The Blueprint is organized around four broad aspects of environmental policy where sustainability principles can guide progress toward a better system:

Science and Technology. Strategic investment in science and technology will create a more rigorous and objective basis for environmental decision-making, providing the technological tools for future progress. The government’s policy and science functions must be separated, the BRT report says, to ensure the most credible science is used to set goals and develop risk management strategies.

Fred Webber, president of the American Chemistry Council, explained the Blueprint’s science and technology recommendation this way. “Science–in the form of sophisticated research, testing, and risk assessment–helps take the guesswork out of policymaking. It helps guide the development of responsible health and environmental safeguards. The role and impact of science and research in the federal government should be strengthened.”

Managing for Performance. Regulatory agencies must foster a culture of performance-based management, the BRT report says. That requires a focus on defining, measuring, and rewarding environmental results and reorienting core regulatory functions so they are driven primarily by performance goals. Industry should be judged against accountability measures tied to environmental performance, and not to regulatory process.

Using Market-Driven Approaches. The use of marketplace incentives, rather than direct command-and-control regulations, must be extended to a wider range of pollution control and prevention programs.

Sustainability in a Global Framework. Economic growth, the BRT report points out, is leading to improved environmental and living standards worldwide. But some observers are concerned that such economic growth–particularly when driven by multinational businesses and the industrial activities supporting them–are harming human health and the environment. Business and government alike must undertake initiatives that address these concerns, while strongly reaffirming the role of open markets in promoting economic and environmental well-being.

Industry supports BRT effort

“There is a consensus that the nation’s environmental protection system–as good as it is–is showing its age and is in need of comprehensive structural reform and improvements,” said Webber. “Congress and the administration should take steps to quickly take advantage of this consensus.

“The next generation of environmental protection,” Webber continued, “won’t be achieved by following the strategies of the past. And it will need more than just money to solve the nation’s remaining environmental problems. It will have to be more creative, more innovative and more flexible.”

Henson Moore, president of the American Forest and Paper Association, joined Webber and Deavenport in representing industry at the Blueprint news conference.

Among the innovations encouraged by the BRT Blueprint is a shift in environmental policy away from the Environmental Protection Agency and toward the states, an approach endorsed by new EPA Administrator Christine Todd Whitman.

The Blueprint also encourages the expansion of “self-audit” programs, which allow businesses to proactively identify and address environmental concerns without fear of government reprisal. “In recent years,” noted ACC’s Webber, “EPA and the states have developed programs that encourage businesses to achieve excellence in environmental performance, for going beyond what the laws say they have to do.

“The administration and the Congress, working with the states, should develop and put in place policies that encourage more of this kind of voluntary activity,” Webber continued, “and which encourage innovative solutions to our remaining environmental problems.”

The Business Roundtable is an association of chief executive officers of leading corporations with a combined workforce of more than 10 million employees in the United States. The chief executives are committed to advocating public policies that foster vigorous economic growth and a dynamic global economy.

“We are offering the administration and Congress a blueprint for economic vitality and superior environmental performance that will harness the nation’s strengths in technology, science and innovation,” said Deavenport at the Blueprint’s release.

For more information . . .

contact John Schachter of The Business Roundtable at 202/872-1260. A brief Factsheet, as well as the entire 18-page Blueprint 2001 report, may be downloaded from the BRT Web site at