A middle way for environment, growth Presidential council: Flexibility, innovation can avoid deregulation conflict.

March 03, 1996

THE CONCLUSIONS of a presidential panel on balancing economic growth with environmental protection offer hope for a bipartisan effort to move beyond polarization on this fundamental issue.

A three-year study by this group stresses the need for business flexibility in preventing pollution and for tax incentives to reduce waste and environmental harm. Innovation can achieve higher performance in pollution control than rigid rules and procedures.

Yet the council also defended existing environmental standards. The way this group of industrialists, environmentalists, Cabinet members and others look at it, pollution equals waste, which equals inefficiency and cost.

When a group of such conflicting interests agrees that this approach holds promise, while retaining existing levels of environmental protection, this could prove an effective antidote to the uncompromising deregulation mania of Republican congressional leadership.

In fact, the GOP's regulatory rollback campaign is stumbling as a result of voter protest and a stronger voice of moderates in the party. Even corporate America, which pushed for sweeping regulatory relief, is drawing back in favor of compromise. The president's panel has drafted a middle way of consensus that avoids the head-on clash of ideologies. Its report offers a coherent approach to the thorny problems of growth and environment.

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