Notes on the Atrocities
Like a 100-watt radio station, broadcasting to the dozens...

Monday, May 19, 2003  

Executing the Three-Point Strategy: An Environmental Example

"Moving America toward a 21st century energy policy based on renewable energy and conservation will enhance national security and promote a healthier environment.

"We can no longer remain mired in policies of the past that reward special interest oil, gas and coal industries. Continued reliance on traditional energy sources will make America more dependent on Middle East oil ten years from now than we are today. A new environmentally sustainable approach to American energy policy will lead us to energy independence."
--Dick Gephardt

[Critique: This isn't an environmental platform, it’s a response to Bush policies. The environment is the one issue on which the President is seriously in trouble, so this should be an easy winner for the Democrats. Yet the Gephardt-type of response keeps the issue on the President's message. Democrats absolutely must have a bold plan here, and they have the chance to highlight the positive. Bush's policies put a pit inside everyone’s stomach, and the wrong approach (like Gephardt’s) keeps it there. Instead of scaring the electorate with doomsday prophecies--and marginalizing the issue--the Democrats can use this as a major point of positive, forward-looking leverage.]

"Next to the abortion debate, no issue polarizes as quickly as 'environmentalism,' which wide swaths of America take to be code for 'extreme anti-progress agenda.' And for the environmentalists--those who see the rising temperatures, changing climate, and dying species--this criticism seems like propaganda from fat cats who want nothing more than to level pristine forests for Hiltons and Hummers.

"But the truth is far different. Most Americans want the same thing: clean air and water, protected wild lands, and reasonable land use laws. But because of the way in which the debate is framed, it seems like an either/or proposition. This is where there's opportunity.

"By crafting a sound policy of conservation and renewal, I hope to both improve our environment and mend some of these damaged relationships. I will form a coalition of interest from those constituencies who depend on healthy wild lands, and ask them to come together to advise my administration about implementation of new policies. Those groups include naturalists, sportsmen, loggers, fisherman, hunters, campers, and farmers--all of whom have keen interest in a robust, healthy environment. They will join ecologists, scientists, and environmentalists to ensure that the solutions actually benefit our natural environment."

And from here I would suggest an integrated policy that focused on identifying serious concerns and addressing them creatively through 1) a series of incentives, compensation, and tax breaks for businesses, and 2) through clear, science-based regulation. Particularly in the context of incentives, there’s a huge opportunity. Providing incentives so that American automakers lead the production of cars utilizing clean-burning fuels would benefit not only the environment, but the economy as well. It would be a wonderful opportunity for a Kennedy-like challenge: that all cars manufactured in 2014 be non-oil-burning cars. A very bold agenda based on possibility and cooperation, where everyone can benefit from ecological improvement, turns a troubling, back-burner issue into a major winner for the Democrats.

posted by Jeff | 1:32 PM |
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