WASHINGTON, DC (June 3, 2002) -- A new report by the Bush administration finally acknowledges that global warming is a real problem for the U.S., one that will have dramatic and costly effects on our health, economy and environment. The document also concedes that man-made emissions are to blame. Despite the sudden reversal -- which confirms what most scientists have been saying for years -- the White House continues to oppose efforts to reduce the pollution responsible for the problem.
"This scientific epiphany places the Bush administration squarely at odds with its own lackluster global warming policy. Having admitted the extent of the problem and identified the cause, a policy of inaction becomes impossible to defend," said David G. Hawkins, director of the Climate Center at NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council). "America has the technology to start cleaning up the problem. These findings are a warning that it's time to get moving."
The new assessment, "U.S. Climate Action Report 2002," was quietly posted last Friday on the Environmental Protection Agency website. It represents a sharp break from the administration's global warming rhetoric, which downplayed scientific certainty. The new report echoes conclusions by the National Academy of Sciences, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and many others.
Last March, President Bush withdrew the U.S. from the 1997 Kyoto global warming treaty, replacing legally binding pollution cuts with a half-hearted, voluntary plan that would keep emissions rising at exactly the same rate they are today. He opposes plans to clean up carbon dioxide (CO2) pollution from power plants and efforts to reduce vehicle emissions by making them more efficient. Meanwhile his energy plan -- guided heavily by coal and oil company lobbyists -- would lead to increased emissions from fossil fuels while providing minimal support for cleaner alternatives.
Despite White House resistance, there are alternatives. Next week, the Senate will hold hearings on the Clean Power Act, sponsored by Sen. Jim Jeffords (I-VT), which would limit power plant CO2 emissions for the first time, and set new standards for three other pollutants (SO2, NOx and mercury). The White House power plant proposal lacks CO2 controls, and has weaker provisions for the other three.
Meanwhile, many states are taking global warming solutions into their own hands. Massachusetts and New Hampshire have passed legislation to cut power plant CO2, and California lawmakers may soon pass a measure limiting CO2 pollution from cars and light trucks.
The Natural Resources Defense Council is a national, non-profit organization of scientists, lawyers and environmental specialists dedicated to protecting public health and the environment. Founded in 1970, NRDC has more than 500,000 members nationwide, served from offices in New York, Washington, Los Angeles and San Francisco.