- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 17, 2000

Texas Gov. George W. Bush, striking a centrist stance on a key environmental issue, is proposing first-ever curbs on the emissions thought to cause global warming at the same time he rejects deep international emissions cutbacks negotiated by his rival for the presidency, Al Gore.
Tucked away in the Republican nominee's comprehensive energy policy is a proposal to cap the carbon dioxide emissions of the nation's electric utilities for the first time something that Mr. Gore so far has not proposed because of strident opposition to such restrictions in Congress.
Yet Mr. Bush in his second debate with Mr. Gore last week made clear that he opposes the emissions reductions mandated by the Kyoto global-warming treaty, which would require U.S. power plants, businesses and consumers to cut their energy use and emissions by one-third. Mr. Gore had a hand in drafting that treaty three years ago, but it has not passed the Senate.
"One thing I'm not going to do is I'm not going to let the United States carry the burden for cleaning up the world's air, like the Kyoto treaty would have done," Mr. Bush said. "China and India were exempted from that treaty. I think we need to be more evenhanded.
"I think it's an issue that we need to take very seriously, but I don't think we know the solution to global warming yet, and I don't think we've got all the facts before we make decisions," he said.
Mr. Bush noted that the Senate unanimously adopted a resolution barring any treaty that does not require "meaningful participation" by developing countries. He needled Mr. Gore about the seemingly impossible task of trying to get ratification of the treaty, negotiated in Kyoto, Japan, in the face of that Senate vote.
But congressional sources said Mr. Bush might have a fight on his hands as well if he seeks to regulate carbon dioxide.
Congress never has designated as a pollutant carbon dioxide, which is vital to sustain life on Earth and is emitted by humans and other living organisms. It has barred the Environmental Protection Agency from considering imposing restrictions on the gas to curb global warming.
One top Republican aide called the proposed cap on carbon dioxide "troubling."
Other Republican aides said Mr. Bush is striking the right balance, adopting a compromise suggested by his longtime friend and political ally, Thomas R. Kuhn, president of the Edison Electric Institute.
The electric utility group was one of the first business groups to push for voluntary curbs on carbon dioxide. It is working with the Clinton administration on voluntary measures to reduce and offset utilities' carbon emissions through forestation, nuclear power, clean coal technology and energy conservation.
The utility group, like the Bush campaign, contends that the United States should address global warming as part of a comprehensive strategy that balances the sometimes competing demands of the nation's growing energy needs and its environmental goals.
Mr. Bush proposed the cap on carbon dioxide and three other pollutants from power plants mercury, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide as a kind of trade-off to ensure the purity of the air at the same time the nation increases its reliance on coal and other fossil fuels to generate electricity.
He proposed phasing in the emissions caps like the acid rain program was phased in under the Clean Air Act of 1990, signed by his father. And he would allow utilities that go beyond the mandated reductions to sell "carbon credits" to other utilities.
Bush aides stress that the strategy is one of cooperation with industry. They contrast it with the hostile approach taken by the Clinton EPA, which has been suing older utilities that attempt to upgrade their plants to incorporate cleaner technologies without first seeking an EPA permit.
Utilities prefer the "regulatory certainty" of caps on their emissions to the threat of selective litigation by the EPA, the aides said.
Bush associates cited a global-warming treaty negotiated and signed by President Bush in 1992 as the legal basis for the regulations. The 1992 treaty committed countries to voluntarily reduce their emissions.
The elder Mr. Bush negotiated that treaty in Rio de Janiero while he was campaigning for re-election. Mr. Gore, a senator running for vice president at the time, joined environmentalists on the sidelines of the summit to heckle Mr. Bush for not going far enough to curb emissions, creating bad publicity for Mr. Bush.

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