Environmental protection in California, and indeed, in the nation as a whole, is the product of legislators responding to specific events. “Love Canal” inspired Superfund; the failure of an aboveground petroleum storage tank contaminated the Monoghella River and resulted in the Oil Pollution Act. Here in California, over-development of the coast led to the Coastal Zone Conservation Act initiative statute. The list goes on and on. The historical product of crafting environmental protection policy has been adversarial debris. Legislative camps are formed into “pro-environment” and “pro-business” factions. Vast government bureaucracies are in place with vested interests of their own. Environmental activist groups and the private sector each have “professional environmentalists” to argue their cases before legislators and regulators. Dialogue, especially sustained conversation, about rationalizing the environmental protection system for the good of our citizens present and future, is all too rare.
Clearly, a need exists for informed debate on the establishment of sound public policy. National estimates of resources spent on protection of the environment range up to $80 billion annually, nearly 1.6% of our gross domestic product. Many say we cannot afford such an expensive system, while others say it is not enough. Many warn of the ineffectiveness of our complex, often confusing system of environmental laws and regulations, and worry that the people and the planet will suffer unless the system is improved. The members of CED believe that a channel of communication between stakeholders can help design an effective system for the protection of California’s environment in the 21st Century.
First, the end-of-the-pipe focus has often discouraged pollution prevention. Industry’s investments in mandated technologies have sometimes trumped investments in better technologies and improved production processes.
Second, the drive to meet pollutant-specific standards has resulted in generating large quantities of secondary pollutants. For example, sulfur dioxide scrubbers capture large volumes of SO2, but create large volumes of sludge.
Third, the high costs of satisfying emissions regulations under the current regime spawned a veritable “industry of opposition.” Using politics to defeat environmental agencies and to loosen standards has become a widespread response, but not one that promises to move us toward the broad and popular goals of environmental quality.
Fourth, there are not sufficient incentives to reward industries, agencies, and others for environmentally responsible behaviors. The current system still tends to favor punishments over rewards and incentives, even though the examples of environmental good citizenship are now legion.
Change comes slowly. While we envision the central product of CED to be increased trust, understanding, and reason that will be incorporated into our environmental laws and regulations, we are confident that tangible improvements will result from the process. CED is confident that a sustained model of multi-sector collaborative dialogue will result in solutions to a broad range of contentious and complex public policy issues. CED acts as a conduit for the ideal of multi-sector collaboration and consensus building and we invite others to learn from our experience.
The objectives of the CED Plenary are to:
The objectives of the Clean Air Dialogue (CAD) Working Group are to:
The objectives of the Long View Committee (LVC) are to:
The objectives of the Organization (ORG) Committee are to:
Efforts on Hiatus
1997-2005, the objectives of the Habitat & Prosperity Working Group (HPWG) are to:
1999-2002, the objectives of the Sustainability Working Group (SWG) are to: