« PreviousContinue »
ernment to speed improvements in energy efficiency, recycling, waste reduction, and conversion of the federal fleet to alternative fuels.
International Leadership: We insisted that a new world order include a cleaner world environment and reached 27 new international environmental agreements. We made America the world leader in phasing out ozone-depleting chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and led the way to a global ban on driftnet fishing. We launched a Forests for the Future initiative that proposed doubling international aid for forest conservation as a step toward halting global deforestation and dieback. We reduced Poland's debt to help that nation fund a new environmental foundation, and we launched the East-West Environmental Center in Budapest, Hungary, to help countries in Central and Eastern Europe. We addressed environmental protection in trade negotiations with Mexico, expanded debt-for-nature swaps to protect rainforests in Latin America, and created a network for environmental cooperation with Asia.
Global Climate Change: Our comprehensive action-oriented approach to global climate change was adopted by the world community at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Brazil and ratified unanimously by the U.S. Senate. The United States was the first industrialized nation to ratify the treaty and the first nation to set forth its action plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
President's Commission on Environmental Quality (PCEQ): This presidential commission was unique because it was not created to provide advice but rather to demonstrate innovative ideas through action. Over the last 18 months, PCEQ built a network of more than 200 organizations to design and carry out 10 voluntary initiatives on such issues as biodiversity, energy efficiency, education and training, and environmental management.
President's Environment and Conservation Challenge Awards: We established a Presidential medal to honor those who honor the environment. Medal recipients have forged innovative solutions across the environmental spectrum from agriculture to manufacturing to small business, from the classroom to the great outdoors and back to the inner city. Their good deeds have improved our nation's air, water, and lands.
Why the Strategy Worked
Too often, the federal government has adopted goals with little regard to costs, practicality, or actual degree of risk. At times our environmental laws and regulations have been unnecessarily costly and punitive, especially for small businesses and communities.
That is why our environmental strategy was based on concepts that will make environmental protection a practical goal, consistent with economic growth. In an era of large federal deficits and intense international economic competition, our country cannot afford policies that ignore costs.
A free society needs sensible regulation; our emphasis on market incentives and voluntary collaboration was credible because of its link to vigorous law enforcement, which motivated businesses to be innovative. But we cannot rely solely on the legislate-regulate-litigate pattern of the past. That approach will waste more time and money than it saves, hurting our economy and environment in the process.
Our national environmental strategy has produced lasting benefits that prepare the stage for additional progress in the future. These and many other accomplishments in environmental quality are possible within the coming decades:
I look forward to a time when our natural vistas and urban skylines are never obscured by smog.
I look forward to the day when all industrial corporations can improve their energy efficiency and eliminate toxic discharges into the environment, at a profit.
I look forward to a less contentious era when ecologists, business people, and community leaders collaborate in finding ways to protect species and ecosystems without sacrificing an area's long-term economic development potential.
I look forward to the day when our scientists can tell us how to reorient regulations toward problems that pose the greatest risks to human health and the environment. A more scientific approach to setting priorities could save the country many billions of dollars while focusing on the greatest risks.
I look forward to the day when trade agreements are routinely matched by closer environmental cooperation. Trade liberalization is crucial to the growth of America and every nation in the 21st century, and growth is the key to greater environmental protection. Trade-environmental linkages are a practical way to realize sustainable development, especially for the developing nations which need it so desperately.
In the years ahead, we can take pride in what the American people helped us accomplish to protect our environment. We can be comforted by the knowledge that the next generation will continue the work we started to leave a better world.
EXECUTIVE OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT
WASHINGTON, DC 20500
Letter of Transmittal
Sir: The Council on Environmental Quality herewith submits its Environmental Quality Report for the year 1992 in accordance with section 201 of the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (42 U.S.C. 4341).
hand & Reland
Michael R. Deland
From the Chairman: The View from CEO
S the Earth's environment improving or in decline? This is
often the first question posed by readers of the CEQ annual report. The question is a fair one, since the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA) requires CEQ to provide the nation with a comprehensive view of environmental conditions and trends.
The answer to this question is necessarily mixed. Some indicators are deeply troubling, while others are more promising. This report defines in detail the aspects of environmental quality that are getting better and the challenges that remain.
20 years, we sought to create a less contentious, more efficient policy framework by expanding the use of such tools as market incentives and voluntary alliances. I am hopeful that the lessons learned from this experience will continue to provide a blueprint for establishing what the President has called, "a new kind of environmentalism."
Many serious environmental problems do persist. Sites contaminated by pollution from the past still await cleanup; many cities still strive to meet clear air standards; and too many coastal, wetland, and forest ecosystems are being degraded by pollutants and harmful practices. Internationally, nations struggle to produce strategies for sustainable development.
Early in his Presidency, in a June 1989 speech to the Ducks Unlimited organization, President Bush outlined a strategy for environmental quality based on six broad goals. Major events and trends in 1992 demonstrated the practical applications of this strategy:
• Harnessing the Power of the Marketplace. The first major transaction involving tradable air pollution allowances occurred in May
Conditions and Trends
Perhaps the greatest cause for optimism is the shift in the direction of policy that has occurred in the last four years. The Bush administration—and many governments around the worldbegan to promote economic and environmental goals in tandem, rejecting the view that economic growth and environmental quality are opposite interests. Building upon the progress of the past