Strong Environmental Policies Generate Economic Leadership

Submitted by Kevin Cronin on Wed, 02/02/2005 - 09:02.

This morning’s PD cited a Michigan research paper that concluded that economic cars, hybrids and the like, will generate a stronger economic return for European manufacturers, who have adapted to meet the more aggressive, European environmental standards and are now poised to reap the economic benefit of this growing market in the US. As a result, the study says, the US government should assist, despite the current $400+ billion budget deficit, in the retrofit/reengineering of the US plants to be able to compete. Of course, the industry could have also asked for assistance in meeting the environmental demands decades ago to seize the leadership mantel now held by European manufacturers, but for decades, US auto industry opposed stronger environmental standards, rather than adapt. Another significant, unmentioned lesson also warrants noting: Sound environmental policy, environmental leadership, can generate economic leadership in a very short time.

US and NE OH policy makers and opinion leaders need to think about this because the issue of economic leadership and environmental leadership recur often. As an illustration, there are efforts underway currently to develop cutting edge tests and models for wind energy, utilizing wind patterns in Lake Erie (Bowling Green already has already developed successful wind power generation, even in areas not previously considered to have high wind energy potential). Wind energy turbines, using new composite materials, new designs and engineering techniques and precision machining are areas where NE OH can compete very well, generating high tech/high skills jobs for the future.

What’s the lesson to keep in mind? Sound environmental policy is sound economic policy. Environmental leadership is economic leadership. Where will Ohio go? Maybe, the answer is, it depends on which way the wind blows.