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CLIMATEACTION  March 2001

CLIMATEACTION March 2001

Subject:

NYTimes.com Article: Mr. Bush Reverses Course (fwd)

From:

"Bettine G. Thompson" <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Burlington Climate Protection Task Force <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Thu, 15 Mar 2001 14:18:25 -0500

Content-Type:

TEXT/PLAIN

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

TEXT/PLAIN (128 lines)

Is our group in a position to urge Jeffords to continue to push?
See below.
Gioia


This article from NYTimes.com
has been sent to you by [log in to unmask]


\----------------------------------------------------------/

Mr. Bush Reverses Course




President Bush's decision not to regulate emissions of carbon
dioxide, the main global warming gas, does more than betray a
campaign promise. It embarrasses the administrator of his
Environmental Protection Agency, Christie Whitman, angers the
Europeans and creates needless headaches for his secretary of
state, Colin Powell. It also undercuts some of his natural allies
in the energy industry who have been willing to go out on a limb in
favor of a more aggressive strategy.

 During a broad policy speech on energy last Sept. 29, Mr. Bush
promised to "establish mandatory reduction targets" for emissions
of four major pollutants, including carbon dioxide, a gas that has
never been regulated under the federal Clean Air Act. In later
remarks, Mr. Bush made quite a point of the fact that he was
calling for mandatory targets, whereas Al Gore was asking for only
voluntary reductions.

 Because the burden of regulating carbon emissions would fall most
heavily on coal-burning power plants, the coal producers and some
utilities urged Mr. Bush to change his mind. But his campaign
stance delighted most atmospheric scientists, who believe that
warming over the next century will increase far more than was
originally thought, with potentially devastating consequences to
the natural systems in some regions.

 European leaders, persuaded by the gathering evidence on the
causes and dangers of global warming, have been urging the United
States to help put some teeth into the Kyoto Protocol, the draft
agreement to curb greenhouse gases negotiated in 1997. Meanwhile,
the country's more progressive utilities, like Consolidated Edison
and New Jersey's Public Service Electric and Gas, are on record as
favoring clear targets and timetables for carbon dioxide as part of
a multipollutant approach that would create a more predictable
regulatory climate and a surer guide to making costly
pollution-control investments.

 Indeed, as recently as 10 days ago, Ms. Whitman was describing Mr.
Bush's campaign promise as if it were already policy. Then came the
president's reversal. In a letter to four Republican senators who
had criticized the Kyoto agreement, Mr. Bush said he would proceed
with plans for further cuts in sulfur dioxide, which causes acid
rain, and nitrogen oxides, which contribute to smog, as well as
with new regulations on mercury emissions. But carbon dioxide was
off the table, for two main reasons.

 One was that the science about global warming was "incomplete," by
which he meant that it was insufficient as a basis for taking
action. That was an astonishing statement in view of the recent
documentation assembled by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate
Change.

 The second was that reducing emissions would require converting
older coal-fired plants to natural gas, which, in turn, could "harm
consumers" by causing a spike in gas prices  as California's
energy crisis has demonstrated.

 This was a particularly slippery piece of reasoning. It is true
that switching fuels will be necessary and costly. But by cynically
invoking the California crisis and the specter of sudden price
spikes, Mr. Bush made it sound as if a policy aimed at gradual
reductions in carbon dioxide emissions would have an immediate and
devastating effect on American consumers and the economy.

 Despite Mr. Bush's protestations to the contrary yesterday, one
can conclude only that political considerations carried the day.
His reversal came as a shock to moderate Republicans like Senator
Jim Jeffords of Vermont and Representative Sherwood Boehlert of New
York, who were preparing to join Democrats in a bipartisan effort
to reduce carbon dioxide emissions in power plants over the next
six years. They should push ahead anyway. At the moment, Mr. Bush's
evolving energy strategy seems to consist largely of finding new
sources of energy without giving any real thought to their global
consequences.










http://www.nytimes.com/2001/03/15/opinion/15THU1.html?ex=985671268&ei=1&en=75bdf134c1aeb1d0

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