Science & Tech

National environmental policy during the Clinton years

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Environmental quality improved, but less than during previous two decades

Researchers at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government examined the environmental policy record of former President Bill Clinton. Environmental quality improved overall during the decade, the researchers found, continuing a trend that began in the 1970s, although improvements were much less than during the previous two decades. The researchers found that five themes emerged from their review: 1) over the course of the decade, environmental targets were made more stringent and environmental quality improved 2) the use of cost-benefit analysis for assessing environmental regulation was controversial in the Clinton White House, while economic efficiency emerged as a central goal of the regulatory reform movement in Congress during the 1990s 3) cost-effectiveness achieved a much more prominent position in public discourse about environmental regulation 4) the Clinton Administration put much more emphasis on expanding environmental information disclosure and voluntary programs than previous administrations 5) the Environmental Protection Agency reduced the role of economic analysis in decision-making