- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 14, 2002

President Bush today will announce his administration's new plan to protect the environment from air pollution, proposing a gradual reduction in emission gases that some scientists say cause global warming.
The announcement by Mr. Bush, who last March rejected the restrictive Kyoto Protocol, comes just days before the president travels to Tokyo for two days of meetings with Prime Minister Joichuro Koizumi.
The White House would not release details of what spokesman Ari Fleischer called Mr. Bush's "new policy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions throughout the world, led by the United States."
But the president's plan is expected to follow recommendations of his Council of Economic Advisers (CEA), which last week called for setting a "reasonable, gradual" goal of slowing U.S. emissions of greenhouse-effect gases and for linking emission targets to economic output.
Those recommendations make clear the Bush administration is not fully convinced that global warming is a real phenomenon.
"The current uncertainty surrounding climate change implies that a realistic policy should involve a gradual, measured response, not a risky, precipitous one," the advisers said in their report.
"The uncertainty surrounding the science of climate change suggests that some modesty is in order. We need to recognize that it makes sense to discuss slowing emission growth before trying to stop and eventually reverse it," the CEA report said.
Mr. Bush last year rejected the Kyoto accord because the restrictive emission reductions would have been too costly for the U.S. economy. The president was also unhappy that the accord would have exempted huge nations such as China and India.
The Kyoto accord requires industrialized countries to cut their emissions of heat-trapping gasses from 1990 levels by an average 5.2 percent between 2008 and 2012. It sets the reduction target for the United States at 7 percent.
While the United States signed the protocol under the administration of Mr. Bush's predecessor, Bill Clinton, the Senate voted 99-0 not to sign the treaty. Only one of more than 80 signatory countries Romania has passed the Kyoto accord.
Despite the fact that Mr. Bush's proposal has not yet been made public, some critics are already voicing opposition.
Sen. James M. Jeffords, Vermont independent and chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, warned the administration against proposing a plan that does not hold electricity producers responsible for achieving "real reductions" in carbon dioxide emissions.
"Anything that falls short of these goals will be a disappointment to me and environmentalists across the nation," Mr. Jeffords said.
But the CEA proposes a modest U.S. emissions goal that would help improve the environment "without putting the economy at risk."
The advisers said emission-reduction targets could be indexed to a nation's output or other measures of economic activity.
Japan's Environment Minister Hiroshi Oki yesterday indicated his readiness to allow a U.S. alternative to the Kyoto Protocol on global warming to "coexist" with the pact.
Some scientists blame carbon emissions from gasoline, coal and other fossil fuels for trapping heat in the atmosphere and causing "global warming." They fear warmer temperatures could sharply alter weather patterns and raise ocean levels.
The issue will undoubtedly move to Capitol Hill, where Mr. Jeffords said he would delay until Easter a bill to tighten limits of emissions of four main pollutants. Mr. Jeffords wants to cut each by at least 75 percent.


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