Norton, Whitman urge consensus approach to environmental rules


Maureen Lorenzetti
OGJ Online


WASHINGTON, DC, Mar. 9�Key Bush administration policymakers Thursday said the White House wants to move away from the �system of conflict� that environmental regulation has come to represent.

Interior Sec. Gale Norton and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Christine Todd Whitman conveyed that message at a seminar sponsored by the National Environmental Policy Institute (NEPI), a bipartisan group that includes business, local and state regulators, and academia.

Norton said, �I am firmly dedicated to a process called the 'Four C's': they are consultation, cooperation, communication ... and all in the service of conservation. � She added the Four C�s should be applied in relations �between landowners and environmentalists; between state officials and federal officials, and of course between each of you here today and the Department of the Interior.�

Norton dismissed critics� accusations that she will cut most federal environmental protections; however, she noted that state governments should be allowed to play a more active role in making decisions that impact local business.

�Unfortunately, some in Washington think they understand an issue because they've flipped through a binder full of briefing papers; some in Washington believe the free market cannot be the environment's friend; some in Washington believe the only way to protect the environment is through Washington-based command and control.�

Norton said new drilling technology is a good example of how government, business, and environmental stakeholders can work together.

�Where we once needed scores of oil wells to tap underground reserves, today we can use one hole on the surface to drill for oil in a circle extending 7 miles away. We can use the resources below the ground while we preserve the landscape and habitat above.�

Whitman echoed the theme of building consensus between industry and government. Whitman is a less controversial figure with environmental groups than Norton. A former Republican governor of New Jersey, Whitman championed clean air initiatives that were sometimes unpopular with industry.

Following remarks at NEPI, Whitman told reporters the new low-sulfur diesel rule opposed by industry represents a balance between the economic impact on refiners and clean air concerns (OGJ Online, Mar. 1, 2001).

She said EPA�s diesel plan and anticipated rules to reduce carbon dioxide emissions are �creative� ways to ensure fossil fuels remain part of the energy mix. But she said balancing the competing interests by industry and environmental groups in drafting rules is �a challenge.�

Contact Maureen Lorenzettti at Maureenl@OGJonline.com

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