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Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

Deland Evaluates the New President

Air Date: Week of

Reaction to Clinton's speech and first 100 days from Living on Earth analyst Michael Deland. Deland was Chairman of the President's Council on Environmental Quality under President Bush.


CURWOOD: With us now to talk about President Clinton's Earth Day address is Michael Deland. Deland was the chairman of the President's Council on Environmental Quality or the CEQ, under President Bush. He's now a businessman and an analyst for Living on Earth. Mike, welcome to the show.

DELAND: Thank you, Steve. Pleasure to be with you.

CURWOOD: I want to ask you first, did President Clinton's speech signal major shifts in policy in the US Government?

DELAND: I really don't think it does. I felt it to be a good solid speech but one that expressed more by way of continuity than any change. The changes, minor that I found them to be, were stylistic rather than substantive.

CURWOOD: How about in the area of foreign policy, though, Mike --on global warming, the President is making a commitment to roll back greenhouse gases to the 1990 levels, and that's a commitment that President Bush wasn't willing to make.

DELAND: Well, I think there's been a change again in style, but we need to recall that the debate pre-Rio on greenhouse emissions was on carbon dioxide only, and whether or not there would be stabilization of that one greenhouse gas. President Bush felt strongly that with a global problem involving many greenhouse gases, that they all ought to be considered, and as I read this President Clinton has concurred with that by saying greenhouse gases, plural.

CURWOOD: Now, what about the biodiversity treaty? President Bush took a lot of heat when he went to Rio and refused to sign it; Clinton says that he's gonna sign it. Now that sounds like a substantive change.

DELAND: Well, again, I don't really think so. President Bush declined to sign it for reasons of his concern over the intellectual property rights and the funding component of the treaty. President Clinton has said that he plans to sign once the details are resolved, and the details that they've been discussing are just those that concerned President Bush. In fact at the meeting in Rio, I was there with the President, that many of the other world leaders came up to him and depending on their relationship, it was either 'George' or 'Mr. President,' we agree with you wholeheartedly, share your concerns about intellectual property rights and funding but you realize we have to sign because we have political problems with our Green Party or our whatever party back home, and so they all signed. But they all told him privately that they would work to ensure that the treaty was not ratified until their mutual concerns were resolved, and I see something of that same vein occurring here.

CURWOOD: So you're saying style, not substance, because it surely was very costly to President Bush to have the one-liner said, he won't sign the biodiversity treaty.

DELAND: Well, there's no question about it, from a political standpoint it was costly.

CURWOOD: Let's imagine for a moment you were working for Bill Clinton and he called you in and he said, hey, I've been in office now almost 100 days -- how'm I doing? What would you tell him?

DELAND: I think it's really too early to tell. People tend to focus on the hundred days, or so many days, but you need to look at progress over the course of an entire Administration. There've been some disappointments to the environmental community, the whole issue of mining fees, grazing fees on Western lands. I was personally disappointed as were many that the President has proposed the abolition of CEQ, but I, looking to the positive side, I think the meeting in Oregon with the timber interests and environmentalists interested in protecting the owl was something that was a good thing to do, but again, we're going to have to wait and see what's the outcome of that meeting, is a compromise able to be struck, and I'm optimistic that indeed it will be.

CURWOOD: I want to thank you, Michael Deland, former chairman of the President's Council on Environmental Quality, now an analyst for Living on Earth. Thanks for joining us, Mike.

DELAND: Thank you, Steve. Pleasure to be with you.



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