Restoring the Environmental Consensus

Article excerpt

After a year of GOP-led assaults on the nation's basic environmental laws, the worm has begun to turn. Recent polls have informed the majority in Congress that most people don't want to endanger the environment and the public health just to free business from regulations the GOP dislikes. Now comes an unusual coalition lending furhter support to the idea that environmental protection needs to be preserved even while its methods need reform.

The president's Council on Sustainable Development, established in 1993 and composed of leaders of both industry and the principal environmental organizations, has completed a report calling for expanded commitment to environmental protection. Its major reform proposal: Increase flexibility for business to prevent or clean up pollution, but only above existing, mandatory standards.

That's a welcome message that conforms to the serious environmental threats that continue to assault modern industrial society.

It rejects loosening controls on business by subjecting regulations to elaborate cost-benefit analysis and making it so easy to challenge pollution rules in court that few would survive. That rejection is all the more significant coming from a group containing such disparate players as executives from Georgia-Pacific Corp. …

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