Report Advises Clinton on `Environmental Ethic'

Article excerpt

AS President-elect Clinton prepares for his two-day economic summit next week, a bipartisan commission - including top Clinton advisers - is calling for major government policy changes to inject an "environmental ethic" into virtually every aspect of the economy.

The recommendations, if followed, would transform many aspects of business and private life over the next five years. Among them: a dramatic increase in gasoline taxes and a new tax on carbon-producing fuels; elimination of government subsidies that encourage wasteful use of natural resources; a cabinet-level Department of the Environment with broader responsibilities and authority than the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA); more government investment in "green" research and development; and a sharp increase in foreign aid for economic development and population-control assistance abroad.

"Choosing a Sustainable Future" results from two years of work by the National Commission on the Environment. The group was convened by the World Wildlife Fund and headed by its chairman, former EPA administrator Russell Train. The 19-member commission includes four former EPA chiefs, two corporate CEO's (Paul O'Neill of Alcoa and John Bryson of Southern California Edison), former World Bank president A. W. Clausen, and former Congressional Budget Office director Alice Rivlin. The group also includes two prominent Clinton advisers - former Vermont governor Madeleine Kunin and James Gustave Speth, chairman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality under Carter and now president of the World Resources Institute.

The extent to which Mr. Clinton will heed the recommendations remains to be seen. But they closely parallel points made recently in the Progressive Policy Institute's "Mandate for Change," a book released Monday. The institute is a project of the Democratic Leadership Council, which both Clinton and Vice President-elect Gore helped found in 1985, and Clinton has highly praised what he calls the book's "bold new course for reviving progressive government in America. …