Norton, Whitman urge consensus approach to environmental rules
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 spoke at a National Environmental Policy Institute seminar.
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