NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


November 19, 2004

President Bush's environmental policy has received a C+ grade from PERC, the Property and Environment Research Center. The grade is based on the administration's respect for property rights, market trading and decentralization.

The C+ grade suggests that the Bush administration has improved slightly on the Clinton administration in bringing market approaches into environmental policy. The grades for the 15 subjects studied range from Ds to one B+, except for an F for air quality. The best grades came in the areas of regulatory review, agricultural chemicals, security of chemical plants, water quality, water allocation and global climate change. Among the highlights:

  • Earning a B+ in Chemical Plant Security for responsibly dealing with the threats to security, largely through the encouragement of information sharing.
  • Earning a B in Agricultural Chemicals for promoting genetically modified organisms despite European protests; about 70 percent of all U.S. processed foods now contain at least one genetically engineered component.
  • Earning a B- in Global Climate Change for rejecting the Kyoto Protocol, instead keeping reductions in carbon emissions on a voluntary basis.
  • Earning a C+ in Drinking Water and Arsenic in part for avoiding costly legislative action over reports (later shown to be overstated) of excess lead levels in some water in Washington, D.C.

On the other hand, the Bush administration performed average or worse in the other 5 categories, according to PERC:

  • Earning an F in Air Quality for failing to change regulations that do not focus on health benefits; Bush has largely continued and expanded Clinton-era policies.
  • Earning a D in Ocean Fisheries for endorsing individual fishing quotas to reduce overfishing, but insisting they be privileges rather than property rights, thus severely limiting their effectiveness.

Source: Bruce Yandle and Jane Shaw (ed.), "Report Card 2004: Bush Administration's Environmental Policy October 2004," Property and Environmental Research Center, October 21, 2004.


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