NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Bush's Better Record on the Environment

May 11, 2000

While Al Gore enjoys a reputation as a more environmentally concerned candidate than George W. Bush, some analysts have reassessed the Texas governor's record and found it more impressive than some have given him credit for. They argue Bush has tackled environmental problems creatively with an approach that emphasizes cooperation over conflict.

Considering air quality, there are two reasons Texas emissions are high:

  • First, Texas is large, and produces much of the nation's oil-based chemicals; while the rest of country enjoys the benefits, Texas shoulders the burden.
  • Second, Bush's predecessors paid little attention to air quality.
  • To make up ground, Bush backed an initiative that made Texas only the third state to require pollution reductions from older plants that had been exempted from standards set for more modern ones.
  • By 2003, the plan aims to cut nitrogen oxide emissions, a component of smog, in half.

Bush also expanded the "clean industries 2000" program, in which companies commit to cutting their toxic or hazardous waste in half by this year. So far, 185 companies have eliminated more than 43 million tons of hazardous waste and reduced energy consumption by 11.3 million kilowatt hours. Texas led the nation in reducing toxic releases in 1997.

During Bush's tenure, Texas has also encouraged voluntary conservation efforts. The state has a landowner incentive plan -- the first in the country -- which pays qualified landowners up to $10,000 to help conserve rare species on their property. By using incentives, observers point out, the plan has done what the federal Endangered Species Act hasn't done: inspire landowners to voluntarily make their land attractive to threatened species.

Source: Lynn Scarlett (Reason Public Policy Institute), "Bush's Friendlier Path to Clean Air," New York Times, May 9, 2000.


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