Bush Slammed for Abandoning Pollution Pledge

Despite mounting evidence of global warming by greenhouse gases, Bush retreats from earlier campaign pledge, saying he's concerned about high energy costs.

Published: 15-Mar-2001

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Environmentalists said on Wednesday President George W. Bush would pay for his decision to abandon his campaign pledge of seeking mandatory emissions cuts for carbon dioxide at electrical power plants.

At an open-air news conference across from the White House, several groups said the decision announced on Tuesday flew in the face of U.S. public concern over the environment and promised to mobilize their members to oppose it.

"This back-pedalling will haunt Bush for his entire term and may even be more hazardous to his reelection than breaking the 'No new taxes' pledge was to his father," the environmental activist group Greenpeace said in a statement.

Critics said the decision was at odds with the spirit of the Kyoto Protocol, the 1997 U.N. climate pact accord aimed at reducing greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide. The accord was signed by the United States but has not been ratified by the Senate and Bush opposes it.

Bush had declared in a presidential campaign speech on energy that carbon dioxide was a pollutant, thus susceptible to emissions controls. But aides said this was a mistake since it is not listed as a pollutant under the Clean Air Act.

"Every campaign makes mistakes on those kinds of things," Republican Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania told CNN justifying Bush's change of position.

"I don't think you should hold a president to a campaign pledge that is not a good pledge, that is not right."

BUSH CITES HIGHER COSTS

Bush cited a new study from the Energy Department showing that caps on carbon dioxide emissions, produced by the burning of coal and other fossil fuels, would lead to higher energy prices at a time when they are already increasing.

Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, Bush tied his decision to the risk an energy crisis posed for the economy.

"I am concerned that if we don't act in a common sense way, that our people will not be able to heat and cool their homes. And I'm worried about a failure of an energy policy could affect our economy, and we're dealing with it in a common sense way," Bush said as he visited New Jersey.

Scientists came forward on Wednesday with more evidence to prove that greenhouse gases, believed by scientists to be the cause of global warming and major climate disruption, were building up in the Earth's atmosphere.

A study, reported in the science journal Nature, revealed new evidence from satellites orbiting the Earth that confirmed previous ground-based measurements used to gauge the change in greenhouse gases.

"This response by the Bush administration will not only let down Americans, it will outrage the global community," said Kathryn Fuller, president of the World Wildlife Fund.

Former Democratic vice presidential candidate and Connecticut Sen. Joseph Lieberman said he would introduce a bipartisan bill on Thursday to set "practical limits" on power plant emissions of carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxide and mercury.

"This is much more than a broken campaign promise and political double talk," he told reporters.

"In this case, turnabout is foul play, and could seriously hurt our efforts to reduce the enormously consequential risks of rising planetary temperatures."

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