An Innovation-Driven Environmental Policy

By Banks, R. Darryl; Heaton, George R., Jr. | Issues in Science and Technology, Fall 1995 | Go to article overview

An Innovation-Driven Environmental Policy


Banks, R. Darryl, Heaton, George R., Jr., Issues in Science and Technology


U.S. environmental policy is receiving critical scrutiny from all sides. Congressional proponents of quick "fixes" such as regulatory moratoria and cost-benefit analysis have seized the limelight of publicity. But the reform impulse is also intense within the community of government officials, industrialists, and environmentalists who deal with environmental matters on a daily basis. Clearly, the nation's environmental policy needs to be revised; the problems are too many and the public resources too limited for things to continue indefinitely in the current mode.

The solution, however, is not to hobble regulators with inflexible analytical and legal requirements, which would only raise the hurdles to the introduction of improved technologies to solve environmental problems. Nor is it to weaken standards of environmental protection in the name of making U.S. firms more competitive. On the contrary, the evidence suggests that strong environmental demands actually stimulate innovation, particularly among the most technologically dynamic firms. As but one example, environmental considerations were an important if not major factor in General Motors' development of the Impact, a high-performance, electrically powered vehicle that embodies innovative propulsion systems and advances in materials science.

What is required is a refocus and renewal of environmental policy. Both regulators and industry, including those firms that pollute and those that produce environmental technology, need to be freed to concentrate on devising innovations that will reduce environmental hazards as well as the costs of control. This can be done only by making the central mission of environmental policy the enhancement of technological change. Technological change - both the development of new technologies and their diffusion - is arguably the major engine of progress in our society today. And while universities, government, and the research sector all contribute, private firms are our society's main locus of technological change.

The notion that environmental policy should be "in the business" of promoting technological change in the private sector is not really a radical one. Environmentalists have long been avid proponents of new technology. The Clean Air Act Amendments of 1970 reflected this approach by setting goals for mobile source emissions that could be achieved only through new technology. The industrial community also realizes that its competitive position depends on its ability to innovate, and it supports public efforts that enhance this capability. But such a mission does depart significantly from the path that policy has pursued to date. Whatever the rhetoric, the practical history of environmental regulation has shown a kind of schizophrenia, alternating between imposing strict controls on new products and facilities, mandating radical innovations by legislative fiat, and too often settling for the best available technology as a compromise solution that rarely moved forward with the times.

What is needed is for environmental policy to broaden its focus. It must stop discriminating against new technology, thereby prolonging the commercial life of yesterday's tired products and processes. It needs new skills and a more suitable organizational structure. It needs to connect and coordinate with the existing apparatus of the nation's technology policy, and it needs to apply many of the well-established tools through which technology policy already supports and enhances the process of technological change in the private sector.

What technologies to promote?

Much attention has been devoted in recent years to the need to promote "environmental" technology. Early on, the Clinton-Gore administration made the Environmental Technology Initiative a centerpiece of its technology policy. Several bills on this topic were introduced during the last Congress. Hundreds of enthusiastic participants attended the White House Conference on Environmental Technology in December 1994, and firms in the private sector have organized an Environmental Business Council and the Environmental Technology Export Council. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

An Innovation-Driven Environmental Policy
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.