George Bush: Champion of the Environment

It depends whether you want a cleaner environment or you want to talk about a cleaner environment. The fact is that the air and water in America are cleaner today than they were last year and will be cleaner still next year. No president can turn that around and we can’t credit or blame President Bush.

The question is how to make more progress. Current environmental law has reached an impass. It encourages endless litigation. The establishment loves this. Lawyers on both sides make money. Polluters can substitute litigation for action. Environmental groups can continue to raise money by pointing this out. It is one big symbiotic relationship, much like labor and management colluded in the auto industry in the 1950s and 1960s to keep prices up and competition down, all the time pretending to be bitter opponents.

This is where President Bush can help. He advocates action through market based incentives rather than litigation. Which would you rather have, a perfect rule that everyone can easily avoid or a good rule that actually makes things better? Or maybe another way, do you prefer a cleaner environment or the satisfaction of claiming you are on the right side and the others are wrong.

Others have explained it better than I can. Gregg Easterbrook from the New Republic has written a book about the environment call "A Moment on the Earth" that I suggest everyone read. More to the point are his two related articles one and two

Here is information on healthy forests and more background

The President's climate change fact sheet tells you about his plans.

Another good backgrounder is at Ask the Whitehouse. It is an older article, but the links are updated.

For a better understanding of how talk about a better environment can trump real improvements, I recommend "The Agony of an American Wilderness".

Posted by Jack at June 7, 2005 11:40 PM