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Administrator Mike Leavitt
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Mike Leavitt on Environmental Stewardship

The Enlibra Principles

Administrator Mike Leavitt's vision for sound management of our natural assets is articulated in the Enlibra Doctrine, an approach to environmental stewardship co-authored by Leavitt and former Governor John Kitzhaber of Oregon. Enlibra, from the Latin, means "move toward balance." Enlibra is based on the dual concepts of balance and stewardship, and is built upon principles of flexibility, innovation, partnership and collaboration. The philosophy emphasizes collaboration instead of polarization, national standards and neighborhood solutions, markets instead of mandates, solutions that transcend political boundaries, and other common sense ideas that will accelerate environmental progress.

Enlibra Principles

National Standards, Neighborhood Solutions - Assign responsibilities at the right level

In many instances, it is entirely appropriate for the federal government to establish national environmental standards. However, states, tribes and local governments should have the flexibility to develop their own plans to achieve the national standards, and to provide accountability. Plans that consider localized ecological, economic, social and political factors often enjoy more public support and involvement and therefore can reach national standards more efficiently and effectively. Governments at all levels should reward innovation and support empowerment for any entity that can meet or exceed standards and goals through local or regional plans.

Collaboration, Not Polarization - Use collaborative processes to break down barriers and find solutions

Environmental issues tend to be highly polarizing, leading to destructive battles that don't further environmental goals. Goals are best accomplished through balanced, open and inclusive approaches at the ground level, where stakeholders work together to formulate critical issue statements and develop solutions. Collaborative approaches often result in greater satisfaction with outcomes and broader public support at less cost, and better long-term stakeholder involvement. Public and private interests may need to provide resources to ensure these local collaborative processes are transparent, have broad participation and are supported with good technical information.

Reward Results, Not Programs - Move to a performance-based, instead of process-based, system

A clean and safe environment will best be achieved when government actions are focused on outcomes, not programs and processes, and when innovative approaches to achieving desired outcomes are rewarded. Federal, state and local policies should encourage "outside the box" thinking in the development of strategies to achieve desired outcomes. Solving problems, rather than just complying with programs, should be rewarded.

Science For Facts, Process for Priorities - Separate subjective choices from objective data gathering

Environmental science is complex and uncertainties often exist. Competing interests usually point to data supporting their view and ignore or attack conflicting or insufficient information. This results in polarized positions, interferes with reconciling the problems, and may leave stakeholders in denial. Public confidence declines and the stridency of debate increases. A much better approach is to reach agreement on the underlying facts as well as the range of uncertainty surrounding the issue before framing the choices. A public, balanced and inclusive collaborative process should be used, with a range of respected scientists and peer-reviewed science. If agreement on scientific facts cannot be reached, decision-makers must evaluate the differing information and make the difficult policy choices.

Markets Before Mandates - Pursue economic incentives whenever appropriate

While most individuals, businesses, and institutions want to achieve desired environmental outcomes at the lowest cost to society, many environmental programs include mandates enforced through the threat of legal action, fines and other penalties. While the end result may be environmental protection, this approach is not always efficient or cost- effective. By contrast, market-based approaches and economic incentives often result in more efficiency at less cost, and may lead to less resistance and more rapid compliance. These win-win approaches reward environmental performance, promote economic health, encourage innovation and increase trust among all stakeholders.

Change a Heart, Change a Nation - Environmental education and understanding are crucial

Governments at all levels can develop policies, programs and procedures to protect the environment. But the success of these policies ultimately depends on the daily choices of citizens. Beginning with the nation's youth, people need to understand their relationship with the environment. They need to understand the importance of sustaining and enhancing the natural world for themselves and future generations. If we are able to make environmental progress, it will be because citizens understand that a healthy environment is critical to the social and economic health of the nation. Government has a role in educating people about stewardship of natural resources.

Recognition of Benefits and Costs - Make sure all decisions affecting infrastructure, development and environment are fully informed

Environmental decisions should be guided by an assessment of the true costs and true benefits of different options, including life-cycle costs. These assessments can illustrate advantages of various methods of achieving common public goals. However, not all benefits and costs are measured in dollars. Non-economic factors, such as equity within and across generations, should also be fully considered in every assessment. Options should consider all social, legal, economic and political factors, while ensuring that neither quantitative nor qualitative factors dominate.

Solutions Transcend Political Boundaries - Use appropriate geographic boundaries to resolve problems

Many environmental challenges fall within natural geographic locations, but most cross political and agency boundaries. Focusing on the natural boundaries of the problem helps identify the appropriate science, possible markets, cross-border issues, and the full range of affected interests and governments that should participate and facilitate solutions. Voluntary interstate strategies as well as other partnerships are important tools as well.


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