Ultimately, it could be a victory for
the much abused environment.
With US industries and environmentalists at loggerheads for the
past one year over the now familiar
tug-of-war between environment
and development, it seemed unlikely that a joint consensus could
ever be achieved. But a presidential
panel consisting of adversaries
from both camps, members of
Clinton's cabinet and Labour and
civil rights groups seem to have
pulled off a major coup last month.
The panel succeeded in its achievement of a rare agreement on how the existing system can be improved, if not weakened, by not removing environmental regulations as has been demanded by many Republicans. It bestows on the industries the freedom in future to prevent pollution on their own account, but on the condition that they learn to perform better than is required under the current system of exacting safeguards.
This is being interpreted in political circles as a shot-in-the- arm for Clinton's election campaign. The President has been trying to distance himself from the Republicans as being a steadfast supporter for the cause of environment. The panel report along with the industries' support (considered until now to be staunch Republican loyalists) now adds credence to his stand.
The report has called for increasing and not removing, a layer of environmental protection. While the current system will be modified, it will be retained to act as a green safeguard. On the touchy subject of environmental regulations, the report states that while industries could benefit from flexible and cost-effective way to handle environmental goals, there could be no compromise on public health. The panel concluded its report thus: efficiency, profit and environmental protection are all linked. Pollution is waste, waste is inefficient and inefficiency is expensive.