June 10 — Washington, DC — 40 staff from the House and Senate heard Ira Feldman offer ideas for advancing sustainability policy in the US. Feldman recapped the basics of sustainability for the attendees and traced the brief history of sustainability in the US beginning with the efforts of President’s Council for Sustainable Development (PCSD) in the 1990s. He emphasized that, even without a national sustainability policy council for the last 20 years, much progress has occurred in the US and must inform the current discussions sparked by The Green New Deal proposal. Feldman was joined by Alan Horowitz of Trusted Companies, who shared perspectives from business and industry, and moderator Jeremy Symons of Symons Public Affairs. The presentation entitled “Sustainability — Reviving the Federal Role” followed interest in Feldman’s op-ed published in The Hill in February and follow-on conversations with Members and Staff, including Rep. Jaimie Raskin of Maryland who invited his colleagues to attend the June 10 session. See below.
June 03, 2019
Former EPA official Ira Feldman for decades has pressed for the United States to adopt a federal approach to advancing sustainability that encompasses environmental protection, economic development and social justice.
At a June 10 briefing for House lawmakers, Feldman, a former EPA enforcement official and long-time industry consultant, will take his pitch to lawmakers seeking policies that refocus existing government infrastructure around sustainability.
Democrats’ Green New Deal, he says, is triggering renewed debate on the need for a national sustainability policy that was never fully realized after the President’s Council on Sustainable Development ended in 1999.
Yet Feldman says sustainability principles have continued to advance in the private sector and around the world.
At the House briefing, Feldman will re-up his pitch for an umbrella organization to champion federal sustainability policies, which he sees as the “weak link” in U.S. sustainability efforts, and to convene a cross-spectrum of stakeholders.
He will push for the federal government to back approaches similar to the environmental management systems (EMS) that he pushed to include in EPA settlements while special counsel to EPA’s enforcement office in the 1990s. EMS policies seek to reduce a company’s environmental footprint while also growing revenue.
He is also eyeing changes at other federal agencies, such as the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), which he says could change its regulations to embrace environmental and social governance.
Feldman tells Inside EPA in a recent interview that “Sustainability is not ‘going green’ — that is dumbing down a robust framework.” Instead, he says sustainability is a way of thinking focused on “the integration of environmental protection, economic development and social justice.”
He adds, “Climate change is understandably front and center of the agenda that frames [sustainability] but it has to be broader if we’re going to make any progress.”
The GND floats proposal such as setting renewable energy goals for the power sector and bolstering building efficiency, while increasing investments in education, healthcare and clean air and water.
“Most ideas of the ideas in the Green New Deal have been under discussion for years,” Feldman says.
“Everybody else [around the world] signed on to the [United Nations’] Sustainable Development Goals voluntarily. What’s going on here [in US policy]? Not too much.”