- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 17, 2008

President Bush yesterday called for decreasing U.S. greenhouse gas emissions beginning in 2025 and asked Congress to pass legislation to help that goal, though he ruled out any of the bills Democrats or Republicans are likely to send him.

In a 20-minute address in the White House Rose Garden, Mr. Bush said Congress should offer incentives to lower carbon emissions but did not lay out his own plan, leaving his allies relieved he didn’t go further and Democrats and environmentalists saying he missed a chance to take the lead.

“The only good news in his speech is that no one will pay attention to it. It’s totally irrelevant,” said David Hawkins, director of the Natural Resources Defense Council’s climate center.

Mr. Bush said he was trying to head off a looming regulatory mess from court-imposed strict greenhouse gas caps, which he said could happen as a result of lawsuits environmentalists have filed under the Clean Air Act and Endangered Species Act.

“Such decisions should be made by the elected representatives of the people they affect,” Mr. Bush said.

Scientists say humans are contributing to changes in the Earth’s climate, and Mr. Bush had previously acknowledged society’s role. But yesterday he went further, laying out his 2025 goal. He also saidhe would be willing to join an international binding agreement on that goal, as long as other nations such as China and India set limits.

But the president ruled out all of the proposals Congress is currently considering to mandate limits, including the cap-and-trade proposal the Senate will debate in June that would set an overall limit on U.S. emissions, and allow a market-based trading system for companies to trade pollution credits to ease the economic burden.

That would include the cap-and-trade bill sponsored by Sen. Joe Lieberman, Connecticut independent, and Sen. John Warner, Virginia Republican, which the Senate is expected to debate in June.

James L. Connaughton, chairman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, told reporters the cap-and-trade proposals they’ve seen “are disastrous.”

Opponents of congressional mandates, who feared Mr. Bush would embrace a cap-and-trade approach, were cheered yesterday by his opposition, though several said they didn’t see any major steps in Mr. Bush’s speech.

Several people who have followed the climate change debate within the administration said the speech seemed to have a gap in it. They speculated Mr. Bush had intended to embrace some sort of cap-and-trade proposal of his own — but that proposal fell apart after news of Mr. Bush’s announcement leaked earlier this week, including in a report in The Washington Times.

Environmentalists said Mr. Bush’s 2025 target comes 10 years too late, and said Mr. Bush’s own Environmental Protection Agency has calculated that a cap-and-trade system envisioned by the Lieberman-Warner bill could even meet Mr. Bush’s conditions that a plan not harm the economy.

“While today’s announcement signals an elevated interest in this urgent issue, it does not erase the administration’s dismal record nor does it lay forth the bold plan that is needed to achieve our climate change goals,” said House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer, Maryland Democrat.

With the presidential election under way, it’s likely Mr. Bush’s successor would go further than he did. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, who is competing for Democrats’ presidential nomination, yesterday said Mr. Bush was “forced to acknowledge global warming as a problem,” but said his proposal “looks like it was written by Dick Cheney’s energy task force.”

A spokesman for Sen. John McCain, Republicans’ presumed presidential nominee, said Mr. Bush showed he was an important ally.

“For those public officials like John McCain who have long stood for taking on the challenge of global climate change, getting the advocacy of the White House is an important step,” said spokesman Tucker Bounds.

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide