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Senators revisit global warming

- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 30, 2004

Sens. John McCain and Joe Lieberman, after losing the battle last year, yesterday reintroduced their bipartisan bill to curb global warming, saying scientific evidence of its harmful effects are now "irrefutable."

Mr. McCain, Arizona Republican, and Mr. Lieberman, Connecticut Democrat, were joined yesterday by a host of House members who introduced a similar bill on Monday. The senators' bill was defeated 43-55 on the Senate floor last year, but both said things have changed and that they expect a different outcome this time.

"Every week now, we have a new study come out on the increases of greenhouse gases ... The overwhelming body of scientific opinion shows that global warming and its ill effects exist," Mr. McCain said.

Last year, there wasn't a bipartisan effort in both chambers.

Rep. Wayne T. Gilchrest, Maryland Republican, and John W. Olver, Massachusetts Democrat, introduced a synonymous House version of the Climate Stewardship Act on Monday. Ten Democrats and 10 Republicans in the House and Senate are openly supporting new environmental policies to reduce carbon-dioxide levels in the atmosphere.

"This is a global problem, and America, as the number one emitter of greenhouse gases, has a responsibility to become a leader to do something about this," Mr. Lieberman said.

Mr. McCain said the bill will have to be introduced as an amendment, perhaps to the stalled energy bill.

Rep. Chris Shays, Connecticut Republican, brought the issue to the level of presidential politics when he criticized President Bush for not including carbon dioxide -- which Mr. Shays called "the most harmful of the greenhouse gasses" -- on a list of harmful emissions to reduce in the next decade.

"The president has not kept CO2 on his list with mercury, sulfur dioxide and nitrous oxide. What we need is an administration that is serious about doing something," Mr. Shays said. "A year ago, we were told let the science rule, and then when it started to rule, we were told something else."

In 2002, Mr. Bush proposed a voluntary-tax-incentive package to businesses and farmers to reduce emissions of the other three gasses. Democrats criticized it for being voluntary and hammered the president for not joining the Kyoto Protocol, the United Nations' global-warming pact that is supported by 178 nations.

The president said acceptance of the treaty would kill American jobs and that the pact was unfair because it exempted India and China, the No. 2 and No. 3 producers of greenhouse gasses, from emission cutbacks.

"China and India are making major contributions [to global warming]," Mr. Lieberman said. "That is why we must join the Kyoto treaty to put pressure on everyone to get involved," Mr. McCain added.

The House and Senate versions of the McCain-Lieberman legislation are modeled after the acid-rain trading program of the 1990 Clean Air Act. The bill requires a reduction in carbon-dioxide emission levels to 2000 levels by 2010 by capping the overall greenhouse-gas emissions from electric companies, automobile and transportation industries, industrial, and commercial economic sectors.

It also will create a market for companies to trade pollution credits, modeled after a similar program in Europe.