BUSH ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES IN BLOOM
January 31, 2005
Heading into his second term, President Bush has the opportunity to put forward a bold vision for progress on environmental issues under the rubric of his overarching policy ideal: the ownership society, says H. Sterling Burnett, a senior fellow with the National Center for Policy Analysis.
One move that could garner support from conservatives and environmentalists would be to end all energy subsidies:
- This would please conservatives who decry tax breaks for wasteful spending on costly renewable energy boondoggles and environmentalists who claim that the fossil fuel industry gets unnecessary and unmerited public subsidies.
- The government saves money and consumers get to decide what fuels will meet their energy needs.
Another energy idea comes in the area of exploration:
- America's remaining large deposits of oil and natural gas lie under public lands and off-shore, but these areas have been placed off-limits to oil production due to environmental concerns.
- Yet oil and gas exploration is not necessarily incompatible with environmental quality; on the public's lands which are not wilderness, roadless areas and national parks, environmentally sensitive exploration should at least be an option.
- And, the revenues earned from oil and gas leases on public lands could be used to pay down the deficit and/or pay for environmental programs.
While environmental policy is unlikely to be prominently mentioned in President Bush's state of the union speech, an improved environment could be part of the lasting Bush legacy, says Burnett. Each of the proposals listed above would, if implemented, protect the environment and reduce government spending, while returning authority and responsibility for natural resource decisions to those most directly affected by the results of good or poor environmental management. Improving the incentives faced by natural resource users and managers is critical to a healthy environment.
Source: H. Sterling Burnett, "Greener Fields in the Forecast," Washington Times, January 30, 2005.
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