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Linking Science and Technology to Society's Environmental Goals Presentation Judith Espinosa* and Peggy Duxbury† Former Secretary of Environment, State of New Mexico, and Member;* Coordinator, Principles, Goals, and Definitions Task Force;† President's Council on Sustainable Development REVIEW OF PROPOSED NATIONAL ENVIRONMENTAL GOALS Judith Espinosa: Some of the comments that you all have made just now, plus the questions that you had of EPA, are probably some of the comments that you will want to have of the President's Council on Sustainable Development and our goals. Some of them track. Ours, however, are probably even broader than many of the EPA's goals. For those of you who have not seen this lovely green and kind of yellowish colored piece of document out on the table, please pick one up. This is the public comments survey for our goals. There are goals, and there are also the five themes that the President's Council developed along with some policy issues and considerations. The goals Peggy is going to talk about, along with the themes and some of the indicators. I am going to talk about some of the background to the Council's work and some of the more controversial points that were brought up during the course of the Council's discussions over the last two years. It was in June of 1993 that the Council was formed by President Clinton. It is composed of 25 persons, about one-third from industry and business. Large corporations, no small businesses, are represented. About one-third are cabinet members and other governmental agencies, such as Dr. Baker this morning, and one-third are other "nongovernmental organizations." I wonder sometimes how I was selected to be on the Council, but I was to represent state government. At the time, I was Secretary of Environment for the State of New Mexico. Since the elections of 1994, I am no longer that and am back in private business. And so we
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Linking Science and Technology to Society's Environmental Goals have come a long way in a couple of years. The Council did have some folks who were critical of the way it got started and of the slowness of the starting, but those of you who have worked with a diverse group composed of 25 people with adversarial viewpoints, in many cases, hopefully can well understand that much of our first six months was taken up with forming relationships and looking at developing a vision statement and actually a definition of sustainability. We wound up starting with the definition of the Brundtland commission, which was, "To meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs, as well." Our vision was, "To look for a life-sustaining Earth with peace and dignity and equity for all persons, and the opportunity to have a healthy and safe environment. To live the quality of life that we ourselves would like to live, and to maintain the viability of our natural resource base." Simple visions. Simple statements that you heard from many of the speakers here this morning and that we heard from people all over the country. We attempted to go outside the 25-member Council by engaging persons outside the Beltway, outside government—and real people who live in communities so that we could get a diversity of information and a diversity of viewpoints for the Council—so that we could provide some outreach and so that we could expand the view of the Council, as well as provide for that kind of, if you will, nebulous thing called "public input." We did this through putting together about eight different task force groups, some of which involved Energy and Transportation. I was on the Energy and Transportation task force. I was the co-lead on the Public Linkage and Dialogue task force, which was to engage grassroots groups and other persons around the country. We also had a Natural Resources task force looking at various issues. Ecosystem task forces looked at industrial processes and product stewardship and the like. The task force was reaching into the general populace of the American public to attempt to get a broader viewpoint. We had put out our principles and vision statements in the summer of last year, and right now, we are putting out our goals. So if you would please pick them up and, if you cannot comment today, please send comments to us later. We certainly need to hear from as many persons as possible—and certainly those of you who are members of the National Academy of Sciences, those of you who work on the committees, it is important for us to hear from you. I don't need to go into a lot of discussion because much of what has already been said by the speakers are points of contention during the Council's discussions during the Council's debates. Our meetings were in public forums. We also had separate committee meetings, retreats, to talk about principles and goals and where we wanted to go for the future. Some of these are controversial issues, and I think it's important for to you know this because these issues are now in the public debate. And there are some really, I believe, hostile discussions going on between both extremes, sometimes not too much in the middle. And I think it behooves all of us to understand what those issues are and to see if we cannot come to some middle ground.
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Linking Science and Technology to Society's Environmental Goals The Council is a consensus-building process. Therefore, a lot of what you see in this document was built out of the controversial issues and was brought into the process of consensus. One of the first concerns that we heard this morning, and one of the issues that was brought up time and time again in Council discussions, was risk assessment. Where are we going with risk-based regulations? Where are we going with risk assessment? What is risk assessment? What are the concerns with risk assessment? The debate has been that if you look purely at risk assessment, you are not going to be able to take into consideration some of the social issues and as well as some of the non-economic issues (or the economic issues, as well) that befall a community when it's looking at risk—whether it be risk in toxics or whether it be risk in hazards or clean water issues, as well. You can see, I think, in the goals, that risk assessment is certainly one of those indicators and one of those policy issues that has been put out in the goals. I must say that we came to no consensus in the Council regarding risk assessment. We didn't feel it was our job, and we did not get into the specifics of what would be risk—what is a good risk-based process in our environmental regulations. I think there was some consensus that we need to look at risk factors and that we need to look more in that direction. The concern, of course, is what I think I heard this morning from one of the panelists from the congressional side—that there will be some risk-based types of regulatory and statutory mandates issued by this Congress. I also heard that Congress doesn't know right now what the exact procedures will be. That kind of concerns me, because I don't think Congress should be dealing with what the exact procedures for risk assessment should be—I believe that it should be groups of scientists and groups of individuals who work in the environment as well as social scientists looking at risk assessment issues. One of the other concerns, or one of the other debates that went on, was the issue of equity. What is equity? You will also see a goal on equity. Equity sounds good. Environmental justice is wonderful—societal equity, the opportunity for all people. But there was a big debate on that because one of the issues that kept coming up on equity is whether we were talking about distribution of wealth? Are we talking about types of implementation of policies and procedures that are going to be costly? Are these going to be based on non-economic or non-capital types of provisions? Are we talking about socialism? We got very basic about this. So the issue of equity was one that was debated for a year among Council members, and we think that what we drew up relating to equity is the consensus of the Council. Another issue was better science. I'm not quite sure what that means. Perhaps the National Academy of Sciences can help me out and help all of us out on what better science is. There was a lot of discussion by business people that we need better science in the regulatory process. I don't think anybody disagrees with better science, but I'm not sure that anybody knew what it was. The other concern was that we already have standards. We already have environmental
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Linking Science and Technology to Society's Environmental Goals standards that are set by scientific methodologies by modeling and by scientific endeavors. So what do we mean exactly by better science? I'm sure that John and Peter can tell you what type of scientific proof they use before they go out to set their regulatory standards. I know in state government we have to do the same thing. We cannot go before our boards and commissions and ask them to set a regulation without our having some scientific background regarding that regulatory process. So we need to decide what is better science. That is not reflected in the goals. That is one of the challenges that I would pose to the National Academy of Sciences as we look at science and technology and how it relates to not only the environmental goals of the PCSD, but also the EPA, and also to what Bob Watson is going to be talking about here in a bit. Climate change was also a big issue. I think we decide that we would agree to disagree. So you don't see anything specific in the goals and policies on climate change. Most of the business people really were very strong in their assessment. They did not believe that global climate change presented itself as an environmental factor. Not being able to get over that, we proceeded with other policies and goals. So those of you that have some strong opinions of climate change may want to make some comments on that. Sustainable agriculture—again, as I mentioned, we talked a lot about safe food sources. We talked a lot about subsidies in the agricultural field, which basically did not fall within the goals of sustainable development and we need to rethink. We need to rethink these government subsidies that do not assist us in reaching our goals of sustainability. We also talked a lot about the export of non-safe chemicals to other countries, thereby contributing to global food safety issues as well as the use of pesticides. We also talked about the use of pesticides in this country. It's a difficult issue, very contentious. There are some policies and indicators on sustainable agriculture, but probably not as strong as, and I will say this personally, as I would like to have seen it. Perhaps you can give some direction to all of the Council on what we ought to look at in sustainable agricultural issues. One very large issue was economic growth versus economic prosperity. As you can see by the goals, the economic prosperity folks won out. Many people, (and we heard this in our San Francisco meeting from a lot of people) community-based people, local government people, local groups of real people, came to us and said that we no longer need to talk about economic growth in this country, because that is not sustainable. It is not a definition within the term of sustainable development. What we need to talk about is economic prosperity. We cannot continue to grow and grow, and consume and consume at the rates at which this country is doing, and overpopulate ourselves—not only in this country, but around the world—and be able to contribute to sustainable development. So prosperity is what we need to look at. And we need to make sure that people have the quality of life that they're looking for. I don't know that everybody that went away from the Council, or has gone away from the Council, is satisfied with the issues of growth
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Linking Science and Technology to Society's Environmental Goals versus prosperity. So that debate continues, but it was a healthy debate and I think it should continue in the mainstream of society. Energy conservation, renewables, mobile sources versus stationary sources of energy, and energy issues generally were, as usual, a topic of discussion. We had representatives from General Motors, and we had representatives from the electrical utilities, and then we had, of course, all the representatives from the environmental community. So there was a great topic of debate regarding the issues of transportation, mobile sources, how do we look at the automobile, how do we look at emission standards, how do we look at energy conservation in relation to utilities and mobile sources. Those, again, are not reflected in this document. They were discussed, and they may be at the next round of goals and policies. Population—the issue of population stabilization, as you well know, in general is certainly a big and controversial issue. We had a religious roundtable where we brought in religious leaders from all over the country, who actually have been engaged in sustainable development concerns for far longer than the Council has existed. They gave us some very good points regarding the process of population stabilization—the religious issues as related to environmental stability and environmental protection. It was a very interesting discussion to hear from a group of people who were involved in many issues of quality of life and population growth and environment—and how they view, as religious leaders from all sectors, both Christian and non-Christian, how they view sustainable development in the context of our country. So we did talk about population stabilization. Within the context of the goals, you see those. Free market mechanisms certainly were debated back and forth. I think our consensus was that we have market mechanisms that we need as tools in the marketplace in order to look at regulatory and environmental goals. We no longer need to look at the typical command-and-control type of system that we have had in place for 25 years. Of course, that isn't all agreed to by everyone. There is a certain lack of trust that corporations, as Tom Grumbly would put it, are going to have the moral ethic and the morality to go forward with sustainable development and good environmental protection goals without the force of law, without the force of regulations, without the command and control that we've known. And it's going to be very difficult, I think, for that trust to be there, in the long-term for people. I'm not just talking about "environmentalists"; I'm talking about people in general (because I've worked with grassroots people around the country). People must trust their business and corporate entities to do the right thing environmentally. If that is the case, and if we can come to that corporate ethic in this country, then I believe that we can certainly get to the point where we do not need command and control. We can have the goals, and we can have the programs that are going to reach the goals, and we can have the flexibility. Certainly as a state regulator I'm kind of tired of having to regulate all the time. When the EPA tells you that it's the states who are doing the environmental
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Linking Science and Technology to Society's Environmental Goals enforcement, they're right. And it's nice for them now, because they don't have to worry about it, for the most part. We're the ones that take that fack. We're the ones who go to the legislatures, and we're the ones that have to ask for the budget moneys to be able to do the environmental enforcement. Some of it no longer works the way that it did 25 years ago, and some of it is no longer necessary, and some of it has to be more flexible. And we certainly, as many of the other speakers this morning said, have to get away from the way we've been doing business. But we certainly have to take care of our business. And when the command-and-control issues go, what will be the standards? Are they going to be scientifically based? And do we dismantle the environmental regulations that we have, or do we make sure that we have the good environmental protection we need and go forth with different types of ways of achieving that. So just to conclude, I would like to leave the National Academy with some challenges and maybe some questions. I might say that as we moved around the country and talked to various people, we found that many communities and many local governments and many grassroots organizations in neighborhoods and in their circle of friends have been doing sustainable development activities now for three or four or five years. They have looked at the quality of life in their communities. They have looked at the necessity for environmental protection within their communities. And they have looked at how to link up those communities, those issues of environment, with issues of how they live day to day in their communities. It was very impressive. I think the Council members, at least for myself and most of the Council members, learned just about as much on sustainable development by talking to real people and getting out and seeing what they've already done—far ahead of all of us, EPA and PCSD—on setting goals for their communities. They have indicators. Seattle has indicators. Du Page County in Illinois has indicators for successful, environmental, achievable, sustainable development goals. They're out there. We don't need to reinvent a lot of this. What we need to do is scientifically work on them to make the science good, if you will, and to make sure that we have the backup for those indicators that we believe truly work in our communities. So I would ask the National Academy of Sciences how scientific methods and your informed science research and procedures can help the PCSD's goals and policies. How can we measure quantitatively and scientifically some of the indicators that we've set out and some of the policies that we wish to achieve so that we test them—so that we test them in the next five to ten years and know whether they're right or wrong—know whether this country is proceeding in the right fashion. How can the Academy help us with risk assessments? What are the variables that need to go into looking at risk assessments—cultural, religious, social, biodiversity values that are not found in a hard science context? But how can we make a risk assessment work including those variables. I think you heard Tom Grumbly talk about that this morning, as well as others. It is a challenge. How can the scientific community bring trust between the large corporations and
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Linking Science and Technology to Society's Environmental Goals the business in this country, and the people? How can you make that link, so that when we talk about the science of environment and the science of biological diversity and the importance of that to all of us, we ensure that there's going to be that link between the community and between people and between its institutions? And I do believe that science can help us with that. How can we look at scientific methods to influence and professionalized some of the debate that is going on today among all sectors of our society? How do we make sure that it's professionalized and that we look at it in a way that is not one extreme or another, so that we truly have some real backup to do that. I'm not talking about playing games with numbers, which you all know can be done. We can get one expert or another to come in and say what we want to say, but how can the Academy truly look at the nation as a whole and make sure that we are going in the right direction and that we inform our public institutions in the correct way? And, lastly, how can science and how can you help us to get an informed citizenry so that we make good, informed decisions and the public can inform their politicians or their government institutions on where they want to go? Because, frankly, as far as I'm concerned, sustainable development is not going to work unless the public buys into it. And it's not going to work unless we have an informed public that really cares about what it is we're talking about. That informed public is going to back up the environmental goals and the economic and equity goals that we seek to set out for this country. Thank you. Peggy Duxbury: What I'm hoping to do is to walk through the ten goals and the three sectoral goals that the Council did develop after having had this long process that Judith has described. And, I think, keeping in mind before I do walk through them, that the Council basically did the same thing that we all did this morning or that the speakers this morning did—which was, they attempted to think about what should be, and not just the environmental goals for the next 25 years but what should be the goals of this country for the next 25 years. And I think that there they would answer the questions of what should be the environmental goals by saving they must be developed looking through the lens of sustainable developments. And as David Garman discussed this morning when he talked about his core concepts, environmental goals, environmental policies, must be looked at with an eye more carefully to the economic and social costs and economic and social values that are involved. Environmental decisions will be better if some of the economic costs are taken into account. But I think what he didn't get into is that this is not necessarily a competition or a zero-sum game, when you're trying to balance the environmental, social, and economic consequences of public policy decision-making. This isn't in competition or this isn't always a conflict. Sometimes it will be and sometimes there will still be trade-offs, but there are also times when you come up with better decisions.
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Linking Science and Technology to Society's Environmental Goals I think one of the other dimensions of sustainable development that is crucial in our developing goals, is one that Bob Watson talked about this morning as well, and that is the issue of generational equity. The whole issue of equity is something that is woven through most of what the Council does—both generational equity and distributional equity. And that's a very hard thing to do, because equity is a broad term, it's a vague term, and it means something different to almost everybody that you ask, ''How would you define equity?" But it's clearly one that the Council has spent a long number of hours trying to define, at least for themselves as a council. So with that in mind, one of the things that I was going to go into was the process of how did we get to these ten goals? But I promised Deborah Stine that I wouldn't go through a blow-by-blow process discussion of how we went from basically 300 goals, which is where we were in February, to the 10 goals that you're looking right now, plus the three sectoral goals. So I'm saving you the war stories. But I think by saving you that, I don't want to dismiss that process as not important. Especially, in looking at this new approach of decision-making—where you're trying to do collaboration and you're trying to bring in more stakeholders that perhaps didn't have a voice in the past—you really do have to have a process that has some integrity, a process that people believe in, and a process that involves trust on all sides. Because if you don't have those things, if you don't have that kind of process, you can't get to the next step, which is actually trying to come up with goals and trying to set goals. And then when you try to implement them later on, if you haven't had that open process, you then run into troubles when you do your implementation. So with that said, I think you have in your briefing books under, I believe it was Tab 13, the goals that were discussed by the Council; they are stilldraft goals, but they are closer to final than they are closer to draft, I believe, at this point. But we do have a public comment period in the next three weeks, and certainly this group, any comments that you can make, either right now in the next few minutes or in the written document that we've handed out, would be extremely valuable to us. Obviously, when you go from 200 or 250 goals to 10, you do some prioritizing, and these goals, as Dick Morgenstern pointed out in his paper, are really very broad and very general in their scope. The Council, like EPA, faces the same tension between very visionary, broad goals that were more inspirational in nature and very specific goals that would tend to be much more quantifiable and probably much more specific, but also could be seen as much more prescriptive in how they were set forth. I think it's obvious where we fell on that tension. We fell toward the broader side. And part of that was the fact that we were 25 people who were trying to come up with a collaboration. And part was that we felt it focused us a little bit, if we just did 10, rather than 200. The first goal is a healthy environment goal. It was from about a hundred different ones. Like all of our indicators, we spent quite a bit of time on indicators of progress and learned a lot about how absolutely important indicators
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Linking Science and Technology to Society's Environmental Goals are to a goal-setting process. If you can't measure it, is it really a goal? And in some cases these can't be measured yet. Either our goals can't be or there are not ways yet to measure what it is we're trying measure. Because a lot of what the PCSD is looking at is what Bob would say is very, very wooly and fuzzy still. But that doesn't mean just because it's hard, we shouldn't try or we shouldn't start thinking about it. And in a couple of our goals that's the case. It isn't as much the case on the healthy environment goals. There are data out there for indicators. But I guess the area where we felt the indicators needed to be strengthened was in the area of issues like environmental justice and distribution over those environmental risks across the country. Are there segments of our society that either through cumulative environmental problems or site-specific environmental issues bear a bit more of the burden of environmental risks in our country? Our second goal is economic prosperity. Probably the most noteworthy issue about that goal was the huge controversy and the long hours of discussion that took place around one word: Should you say "prosperity," or should you say "growth"? And I think if you were to poll the Council it would be a 50-50 division between those that feel very strongly about using the word growth and those who feel equally strongly that the word is prosperity and not growth. Both at the Council level and also in all of our public hearings, this duality between these two words created more emotional discussions and heated debates than perhaps any other issue that the Council faced. And we did, in our vision statement, we used the word growth; in our goals, we used the word prosperity. So I guess we straddled discussion. But underneath that symbolism that those two words took, I think finally the Council, at least, has come up with a vision of what they mean. Whether they use the word prosperity or use the word growth, what they viewed as a strong economy was more than just looking at a measurement of the GDP, how fast the GDP grows. It's got to be more complicated than that. It has to take into account how fast we are using up our environmental resources, and can we better measure some type of green GDP or an environmental account? It has to take into account better ways of looking at how income is distributed. The council expressed its concern that we are seeing a polarization between the haves and the have-not's and for our economy in the long run in 25 years, that is not something that's going to be sustainable, economically or socially. The third goal was our equity goal. And there we did not develop any indicators of progress. It is such a broad issue that to even attempt to narrow it down to four or five ways to measure equity was, at least for the Council, too hard to do. If anybody here has some ideas of where to get started on that, we'd welcome them. Because measuring equity, and I think in this case, it's equity of opportunity as opposed to equity of outcome, but I guess you'd consider more social distribution or income redistribution type areas. The fourth goal is conservation of nature. Our look at conservation issues was really driven by a watershed approach. It was really looking at regional ecosystems, and one of the gaps that probably Bob Watson would comment on here
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Linking Science and Technology to Society's Environmental Goals is that we didn't look at some of the global threats as much as we perhaps should have or could have. Part of that was because one of the big ones, climate change, was a very controversial issue and we weren't able to come to a strong consensus on it. And part of it really was that we learned so much through our Natural Resource's task force on the site-specific watershed that it was really reflecting more of where our findings and our education came from. The fifth goal is the stewardship goal. That one really sort of changed names from time to time. At one point it was called the personal responsibility goal; one time it was called, I think, an environmental stewardship goal; it ended up just stewardship. But this is really looking at, How much are we using? How well are we? And how efficiently are we using the resources that this nation has? The sixth goal is sustainable communities. As Judith said, communities really were the heart of the PCSD. And we learned more listening and learning and watching what some of the communities were doing than perhaps from any other group that came to us or from any other experience that we had. There really are a thousand flowers blooming out there, and what our challenge will be at the Council level is how we try to start to find trends in what these communities have done. What commonalities are there between what Chattanooga has done and Seattle, Portland, or different places around the country—where what works in Chattanooga won't work in Seattle, Washington. Yet there are some areas of common ground where lessons are transferable, and I think the Council is hoping to be able to pick up from those transferable lessons. And that's what the sustainable communities goal is attempting to do. Our seventh goal is another kind of vague one, and that's civic engagement. None of these concepts of sustainable development will work if you don't have an engaged and participating society. And it's essential; it's a hard thing to measure. We did, unlike equity, attempt to come up with some measurements of this—quantifying civic engagement. There's not much out there. There's a professor up at Harvard, Putnam, who is attempting to do it. He's starting to look at what makes some communities healthier from a civic point of view and what makes some fail in terms of having people involved in decision-making—not just government decision-making, but all sorts of decision-making. He calls it social capital. How do you build social capital? So that's what our indicators are attempting to get out there. There's a lot more work that's going to have to be done in that field. The eighth goal is on population: stabilizing U.S. populations. The most important indicators—besides the more predictable measuring population growth—are probably the status of women and the role of women in society, particularly, the role of young women in society. And I think that our two co-chairs on the population task force. Tim Worth and Diane Dilinridgely, spent a number of days in roundtables talking about demographic trends and issues, and we try to capture that a little bit in our indicators. The ninth goal is international responsibility: requiring the United States to
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Linking Science and Technology to Society's Environmental Goals take a leadership role on sustainable development. The indicators there could be a lot more extensive, but we focused primarily on the federal government. Treaties, international assistance, and that list could be far longer, but in our attempt to be focused we really looked at the federal government. And the final one of the primary goals was on education. I think, perhaps along with communities, education was another theme that has to be woven, along with equity as well, into everything that we do—developing education that teaches some of these things, whether it's civic engagement or stewardship or personal responsibility. Again, none of that can be done if you don't have a well-educated and well-informed population. And there we looked at not just the formal K-12 education, but also non-formal education—lifelong learning issues; worker vocational retraining issues. There was a broad number of issues that both the task force and the Council looked at in the field of education. And then what's still being discussed, and we'd love your advice on this, is will the Council have sectoral goals? You've got three of them in your document—one on energy, one on transportation, and one on agriculture. The problem is that once you start having sectoral goals, why isn't there one on manufacturing? This is a good question to ask. Each of you probably has a favorite that ought to be here and is not. And that's how you end up back with 50 or 200 or 500 goals again, when you start getting sector specific. But these were three that we had task forces that had done lot of work on, and it seemed to make some sense to try to deal with them. Certainly on energy and transportation, it did help us at least start addressing some issues like climate change through some of our behavior. So that's one of the advantages of having the sectoral-specific goals. That kind of is the walk-through. I'm sure all of you have a lot more questions about both the overview of the PCSD that Judith gave and our specific goals.
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