Under strong pressure from conservative Republicans and industry groups, President Bush reversed a campaign pledge today and said his administration would not seek to regulate power plants' emissions of carbon dioxide, a gas that many scientists say is a key contributor to global warming.
The decision left environmental groups and some Congressional Democrats angered at what they called a major betrayal. But the White House said a cabinet-level review had concluded that Mr. Bush's original promise had been a mistake inconsistent with the broader goal of increasing domestic energy production.
The president outlined his new view in a letter to four Republican senators, whose criticisms of Mr. Bush's initial plan had been among a torrent of protests by conservatives and industry leaders who warned that any effort to regulate carbon dioxide emissions could deal a severe blow to the energy industry and to the American economy.
As recently as 10 days ago, Christie Whitman, the new administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, had described Mr. Bush's campaign promise as if it were already policy.
Administration officials would not say directly today whether Ms. Whitman had supported the change in position but suggested that she had not. They said the views of Vice President Dick Cheney and Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham had been most instrumental in the final decision.
A spokeswoman for Ms. Whitman, Tina Kreisher, said the E.P.A. chief would "follow the president's lead."
The burden of any plan to regulate carbon dioxide emissions would have fallen most heavily on coal-burning power plants, which still account for more than 50 percent of the electricity generated in the United States. Mr. Bush said today that a recent Energy Department study had concluded that regulating carbon dioxide emissions would have led to "significantly higher electricity prices."
"This is important new information that warrants a re-evaluation, especially at a time of rising energy prices and a serious energy shortage," Mr. Bush said.
"At a time when California has already experienced energy shortages, and other Western states are worried about price and availability of energy this summer, we must be very careful not to take actions that could harm consumers," Mr. Bush said in the letter. "This is especially true given the incomplete state of scientific knowledge of the causes of, and solutions to, global climate change and the lack of commercially available technologies for removing and storing carbon dioxide."
Mr. Bush said he remained committed to an energy policy that would seek to improve air quality by reducing emissions of nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide and mercury, which are already regulated as pollutants. But he said he no longer supported the position outlined in a campaign statement of Sept. 29, which had also promised to set "mandatory reduction targets" for carbon dioxide.
Some moderate Republicans who had been preparing to introduce legislation later this week supporting a power plant cleanup including carbon dioxide also expressed frustration with the sudden shift. They and some owners of coal-fired plants had supported the idea of regulating all four emissions from power plants at once, to avoid uncertainty and confusion in years to come.
The pressure to make the decision came in part from lobbyists for coal companies and utilities dependent on coal and from the conservative wing of the Republican Party, which saw any move to regulate carbon dioxide as an implicit endorsement of the goals of the Kyoto Protocol.
This treaty, negotiated and signed by the Clinton administration but as yet unratified, would commit 38 industrialized countries to sharp ongoing cuts in carbon dioxide emissions.
Many senators, particularly Jesse Helms, Republican of North Carolina, and Chuck Hagel, Republican of Nebraska, oppose it as a a potential harm to the economy and because it would allow American energy policy, in essence, to be governed by an international treaty. The letter was sent to Mr. Helms, Mr. Hagel, Senator Pat Roberts of Kansas and Senator Larry E. Craig of Idaho.
Mr. Bush's earlier embrace of the plan had won him praise from environmental leaders, who described the approach as an indication that the administration might be more sympathetic than they had expected.
The representatives of environmental organizations denounced Mr. Bush's turnabout.
"Bush is turning his back not only on his campaign pledge, but on his administrator of the E.P.A. and the world's scientists, who warn this problem is more serious than we previously thought," said Daniel A. Lashof, a senior scientist for the Natural Resources Defense Council.
In the offices of industry lobbyists and conservative Republican congressmen, on the other hand, there was a strong sense of triumph.
Glenn Kelly, the executive director of the Global Climate Coalition, which represents industry groups, said the White House had received "a lot of communications" from those critical of any attempt to regulate emissions that are viewed as contributing to global warming. "Fortunately, the president responded quickly," Mr. Kelly said.
Mr. Bush's earlier position had been more far-reaching even than that of his campaign opponent, former Vice President Al Gore, who had called for strong incentives to encourage voluntary moves by industry to reduce emissions.
The letter from Mr. Bush came in response to a letter sent last week by Senator Hagel, requesting that Mr. Bush clarify his stance.
Mr. Hagel has repeatedly said in recent months that he believes global warming is at least partly caused by emissions of gases from human activities, but he has opposed both the Kyoto Protocol and legislative moves to limit carbon dioxide emissions. Tonight, Mr. Hagel said he welcomed Mr. Bush's response.
A number of members of Congress, including Senators James M. Jeffords, Republican of Vermont, and Joseph I. Lieberman, a Connecticut Democrat, are preparing various power plant bills that would have included carbon dioxide among regulated emissions. Tonight staff for the bill sponsors said identical bills would still be introduced in the Senate and House on Thursday, but they conceded that there was little hope, at least for now, that such measures could succeed.
Many people involved on both sides of the fight said the decision by Mr. Bush represented a sharp rebuke of Ms. Whitman, the former New Jersey governor.
Among others in the administration who had been
seen as supporting restrictions on carbon dioxide was the Treasury secretary,
Paul H. O'Neill, who in his previous post as chairman of Alcoa had said in a
1998 speech that the problem of global warming was on par with a potential
nuclear holocaust in terms of demanding government action.
Ms. Kreisher, Ms. Whitman's spokeswoman, said: "The administrator has said in the past that President Bush regards climate change very seriously and supports a comprehensive, balanced energy policy that is intended to improve air quality, and the administrator is gratified that he supports that."
A senior E.P.A. official who spoke on condition of anonymity, however, left little doubt that the turnabout had left Ms. Whitman exposed. "If you look at her past statements, she said she was supporting what was in the president's campaign plan," the official said. "It's his prerogative to decide if he wants to change that, and she will follow his lead."
A White House spokesman, Scott McClellan, said Mr. Bush had made his decision in consultation with his cabinet.
"The president is following through on his commitment to a multipollutant strategy that will significantly reduce pollutants," Mr. McClellan said. "CO2 should not have been included as a pollutant during the campaign. It was a mistake."
From Grist Magazine by Leonie Haimson (March 15, 2001)
Wow! The last few weeks have given those of us trying to follow the Bush administration's position on climate change a wild roller-coaster ride. We began the month of February with nothing but positive signs -- including indications that we had a Treasury secretary, a U.S. EPA head,
and a national security adviser intent on actually trying to do something about global warming. (This is in stark contrast to the previous administration, in which Treasury heads Robert Rubin and Lawrence Summers were actively hostile to the idea of a U.S. commitment to reduce carbon
dioxide emissions, National Security Adviser Sandy Berger was apparently uninterested in the problem, and EPA Administrator Carol Browner generally avoided the issue as much as possible, reportedly because she regarded it as too politically risky.)
New Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill laid down his marker immediately. In President Bush's first Cabinet meeting, O'Neill distributed copies of a speech he had given in 1998 in which he argued that delaying action to stem global warming by only a few years could pose a "real danger to
civilization" (Houston Chronicle, 26 Feb 2001). (For more on this speech, and O'Neill's impressive record on the issue, see the January column.) Many of those who have met with National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice say that she, too, is interested in environmental issues and seems
intent on trying to devise a workable agreement with the Europeans. And finally, EPA Administrator Christie Todd Whitman has in recent weeks made some very encouraging statements on global warming.
During the campaign, Bush forwarded a little-publicized proposal to phase in caps on power plant emissions for four different pollutants: CO2, mercury, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen oxides (see the November column).
This proposal represented the first time either presidential candidate had called for direct regulation of CO2 emissions. Rumors swirled that Bush was planning to recommend the emissions caps in his speech before Congress on 27 Feb., a notion that made the conservative wing of the
On the eve of Bush's speech, Whitman appeared on CNN's "Crossfire" and quite clearly reaffirmed the administration's intention to cap CO2 emissions: "George Bush was very clear during the course of the campaign that he believed in a multipollutant strategy, and that includes CO2. ...
[The president] has been very clear that the science is good on global warming. It does exist. There are problems that we as a world face from global warming and to the extent that introducing CO2 to the discussion is going to have an impact on global warming, that's an important step to take" (CNN.com, 26 Feb 2001).
After appearing before a Senate committee the next day, Whitman reiterated the conviction that the science was settled on the issue of climate change: "There's no question but that global warming is a real phenomenon, that it is occurring. ... And while scientists can't predict
where the droughts will occur, where the flooding will occur precisely or when, we know those things will occur." She refused to rule out the option of a cap on C02, and added that the Bush administration was committed to trying to make the Kyoto treaty on climate change work:
"This president is very sensitive to the issue of global warming. We expect the United States to be a partner" (AP Worldstream, 27 Feb 2001).
Hasty alerts were sent from the Greening Earth Society, created and largely funded by coal-based utilities, and the Competitive Enterprise Institute, ground zero for opponents of action on climate change. The message: People should immediately call and email the White House, asking
Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney to delete any reference to the proposed multipollutant strategy from the president's speech. Perhaps as a result, Bush did not mention the proposal in the speech, though a "multipollutant approach" was still referred to in his budget blueprint.
Then, over the first weekend of March, environment ministers from Russia and the world's top seven industrialized nations met in Trieste, Italy, to discuss global warming. Whitman apparently convinced the Europeans that the Bush administration was committed to working constructively with them on the problem. "Ms. Whitman was very positive about climate change being a global issue, about the scientific evidence and that the Kyoto framework was something they should work within," a senior British official said (Reuters, 04 Mar 2001). Together, the G8 ministers renewed
their pledge to work towards an agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. All the ministers, including Whitman, signed the final document, which said, "We commit ourselves ... to strive to reach an agreement on outstanding political issues and to ensure in a cost-effective manner the environmental integrity of the Kyoto Protocol" (AP, 04 Mar 2001).
Right Wing Sees Red
All this talk further infuriated the right-wing base of the Republican Party, triggering outraged calls and emails to the White House. Business representatives from the key coal and utility interests went into action.
Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.), who had lately been sounding surprisingly conciliatory on the Kyoto Protocol, and three other Senate Republicans -- Larry Craig of Idaho, Pat Roberts of Kansas, and Mike Enzi of Wyoming -- sent Bush a highly critical letter, asking him to clarify his position and arguing that there was still scientific uncertainty as to the cause of global warming. (In the letter, the Senators even referred to the Hansen brouhaha of a few months past -- for more, see the November column).
Another message went out by email from Myron Ebell of CEI: "We have learned from contacts at EPA and the White House that Cheney's energy task force plans to announce (or decide?) something tomorrow morning about regulating carbon dioxide. We ... must go all out once again to share our concerns with every contact we've got. In particular we need to get our friends on the Hill to intervene." Finally, in a weekly policy meeting, Cheney told the senators present that the campaign pledge to control CO2 was "a mistake," and that the administration was preparing a
letter that would say CO2 was not a pollutant (AP and Reuters, 13 Mar 2001).
Sure enough, late on Tuesday, the letter went out. It was even worse than expected -- a total slam against Whitman, the environmentalists, and even those Republican moderates in Congress who have been putting together their own bill on CO2 reductions from power plants. (The full text of
Bush's letter is conveniently posted on the website of the Global Climate Coalition, the main industry lobby group opposing action on climate change.)
In the letter, Bush noted that his campaign proposal had been in error, since CO2 is not a "pollutant" according to the Clean Air Act. He also referred to a December study by the Department of Energy, which, in his words, concluded that "caps on carbon dioxide emissions as part of a multiple emissions strategy would lead to an even more dramatic shift from coal to natural gas for electric power generation and significantly higher electricity prices." These caps were a concern, he wrote, particularly in the West: "At a time when California has already
experienced energy shortages, and other Western states are worried about price and availability of energy this summer, we must be very careful not to take actions that could harm consumers." Yet, as Elizabeth Shogren of the Los Angeles Times (14 Mar 2001) immediately pointed out, California is "much less dependent on coal for power than most of the country," with only about one-eighth of its power coming from coal-fired plants.
The Bush letter was also vehement in its categorical opposition to the Kyoto Protocol, calling it "an unfair and ineffective means of addressing global climate change concerns" -- in essence, contradicting the thrust of the G-8 document that Whitman had signed onto just nine days before.
Bush even backtracked on the science, arguing that the "state of scientific knowledge of the causes of, and solutions to, global climate change" was "incomplete."
Glenn Kelly, the executive director of the Global Climate Coalition, said the White House had received "a lot of communications" from opponents of efforts to control greenhouse gases. "Fortunately, the president responded quickly" (New York Times, 14 Mar 2001). Whether it was this
sort of direct pressure that caused the president to cave so quickly is as yet unknown. Some White House officials immediately floated the explanation that the reversal was due to the efforts of senators from the Midwest, who threatened to oppose Bush's huge tax cut if their concerns
on this issue weren't addressed.
Ebell of CEI immediately sent around an email congratulating his allies, but letting them know that their work was far from finished: "President Bush and Vice President Cheney have made the right decision on regulating CO2 with a little good advice from their friends. We have won a famous
victory, and everyone should congratulate themselves on the work they did to achieve this end. I encourage all of you to send out press statements congratulating Bush. (This, after all, could be a turning point in the war to save industrial civilization from itself.)"
He also sent out a special thanks to former Rep. David McIntosh (R-Ind.) and Marlo Lewis (chair emeritus of the Cooler Heads Coalition and now with Reason Public Policy Institute) for helping to initiate the Energy
- - - - - - - - -
Bush bars new control on emission
He reverses a pledge on carbon dioxide
The Boston Globe, March 14, 2001WASHINGTON - Reversing a campaign pledge, President Bush said yesterday his administration will not regulate power plants' emissions of carbon dioxide as a pollutant.
The decision, after heavy lobbying on both sides of the issue, was a blow to activists who had been expressing cautious optimism about the new administration's environmental positions.
The president said his decision stemmed from a recent Energy Department report that concluded the regulation would significantly raise the cost of electricity while causing a major shift from coal to natural gas.
''This is important new information that warrants a reevaluation, especially at a time of rising energy prices and a serious energy shortage,'' Bush said in a letter to Senator Chuck Hagel, Republican of Nebraska.
''I do not believe ... that the government should impose on power plants mandatory emissions reductions for carbon dioxide, which is not a `pollutant' under the Clean Air Act,'' Bush wrote.
That, environmental activists argued, is the reason to regulate the gas.
''That's the point,'' said Deb Callahan, president of the League of Conservation Voters. ''It's not a pollutant under the Clean Air Act. Science clearly shows that we are experiencing devastating impacts because of carbon dioxide pollution. ... They are ignoring science and using the Clean Air Act as a shield, which is highly inappropriate.''
Representative Edward J. Markey, a Malden Democrat who sits on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, also condemned the decision, saying, ''The administration seems to feel that we must choose between a healthy environment and a healthy economy when in fact this country has repeatedly demonstrated its ability to expand its economy and create jobs while increasing energy efficiency dramatically.''
During the presidential campaign, Bush expressed support for what is known as a four-pollutant strategy for reducing global warming, which focuses on establishing mandatory reduction targets for sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, mercury, and carbon dioxide. All four substances are emitted from power plants.
Environmentalists argue that greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide are the primary cause of global warming, a position that conservatives and industry hotly dispute.
''The only way you could believe it's a pollutant would be if you bought into or agreed with catastrophic global warming theory,'' said Myron Ebell, director of global warming policy at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank. ''Not only do I not agree with it ... but neither do President Bush or Vice President Cheney.''
Environmentalists say that the point is beyond debate.
''The National Academy of Sciences says it's real,'' said Kalee Kreider, campaign director for National Environmental Trust. ''The international panel of 1,500 experts said it's real and caused by man. What more do you need?''
The president's letter, which Cheney announced to Republican senators yesterday, was a response to a written query this month from Hagel and Republican Senators Larry Craig of Idaho, Jesse Helms of North Carolina, and Pat Roberts of Kansas.
This past weekend, several media outlets reported that the administration was preparing to regulate carbon dioxide. Following decisions by the administration not to reverse environmental regulations promulgated at the end of the Clinton administration, environmentalists had been expressing cautious surprise with Bush and Environmental Protection Agency chief Christine Todd Whitman.
''George Bush was very clear during the course of the campaign that he believed in a multi-pollutant strategy, and that includes CO2,'' Whitman said on CNN's ''Crossfire'' last month.
She added, ''To the extent that introducing CO2 to the discussion is going to have an impact on global warming, that's an important step to take.''
Whitman met with Bush yesterday in what a White House spokeswoman described as a routine meeting. Sources said she argued in favor of Bush's leaving the door open in his letter to regulate carbon dioxide later, an argument she did not win.
According to the Associated Press, Cheney told senators that the campaign position was in error, and that Whitman was being a ''good soldier'' in repeating the pledge.
Senator Bob Smith, the New Hampshire Republican who heads the environment committee, is working on a bipartisan approach along the lines of the four-pollutant strategy.
''The position of the Bush administration is both consistent and supportive of the multi-emissions approach that I will be outlining in the very near future,'' Smith said yesterday.
Conservatives celebrated the victory, also pointing out that Bush's letter reiterated his opposition to the Kyoto Protocol, which aims to reduce global warming.
''We won round two, and now we have 15 seconds to get ready for round three, which is personnel decisions,'' Ebell said, citing unfilled staff positions relating to global warming in the White House's Council on Environmental Quality and the Office of Science Technology, among others.
''It looks like we're going to get some Republican elitists from the Northeast for those jobs.''
The Bush administration, he added, ''has made the decision not to regulate carbon dioxide, but their next move seems to be to appoint people whose whole goal in life is to regulate carbon dioxide.''
But John Coequyt of the Environmental Working Group also found fault with Bush appointees.
''This is what happens when you stack the administration with oil, gas, and coal guys,'' he said. ''Who knew you needed a stopwatch to time the administration's green period?''
Despite Opposition in Party, Bush to Seek Emissions Cuts
The New York Times, March 10,2001
The Bush administration, some influential Republicans in Congress and several big owners of coal-burning power plants have joined in advocating something long sought by environmental groups and Democrats: cuts in the plants' emissions of carbon dioxide, a heat-trapping greenhouse gas widely thought to contribute to a global warming trend.
The cuts would come as part of a larger bill controlling carbon dioxide and three other emissions from the power plants: sulfur dioxide, which causes acid rain; nitrogen oxides, which contribute to smog; and mercury, a toxic heavy metal.
Mr. Bush promised in his campaign last fall to seek such a bill, and Christie Whitman, the new administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, has reasserted that pledge in recent days.
Cuts would constitute the nation's first restrictions on carbon dioxide, a gas that has no direct effect on human health — in fact, it is the bubbles in beer — but that many scientists have concluded is already altering ecosystems and weather patterns as it accumulates in the atmosphere.
But the prospect has spawned a fierce lobbying effort by conservative Republicans and some coal, oil and industry groups, which are urging Mr. Bush to abandon his campaign stance and any mention of carbon dioxide.
The opponents say laws requiring carbon dioxide cuts would harm the economy and clash with the administration's goal of raising supplies of fossil fuels.
"This is a colossal mistake," said Myron Ebell, director of global warming policy for the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a Washington group that advocates free markets and limited regulation and has attacked the administration recently. "If they persist, there will be war."
Still, many people on both sides of the issue say chances have never been better for legislation to limit the emissions from power plants, which produce about 40 percent of the nation's carbon dioxide output.
Mr. Bush's commitment on carbon dioxide — articulated in a couple of short sentences deep in an energy policy paper released on Sept. 29 — was a sharp shift for a politician who had long avoided making definitive statements on the seriousness of global warming.
The change went largely unnoticed in the campaign, but has now bubbled up like a suddenly opened bottle of warm seltzer because of a confluence of recent events.
First, several Republicans in important positions in Congress are preparing to propose power-plant legislation that would limit carbon dioxide, most significantly Senator Bob Smith, a New Hampshire Republican who is chairman of the Senate Environment Committee.
Mr. Smith and other proponents of the bill say the bill is needed to simplify life for utilities facing a growing, unpredictable maze of federal and state laws governing all manner of emissions.
At the same time, the energy task force, headed by Vice President Dick Cheney, is rushing to complete its initial plan for turning Mr. Bush's promises on energy and the environment into programs.
And legislatures in many states where air pollution is an issue — including New Hampshire, Ohio, Wisconsin and Michigan — are moving toward passage of bills that limit the four emissions. Growing numbers of power-plant operators now regard as inevitable some sort of restrictions, and would prefer one federal standard to a patchwork of confusing regulations.
Some environmental advocates, Democrats and moderate Republicans say that Mr. Bush's support for a comprehensive bill could provide crucial momentum. Past efforts foundered because of the political divide between the Clinton administration and Congress. Having George W. Bush seriously looking at carbon dioxide as part of a four-pollutant approach on power plants really demonstrates that you can't ignore CO2 any more," said Jennifer L. Morgan, climate policy director for one conservation group, the World Wildlife Fund.
Opponents of the legislation include coal and oil companies, business groups, and conservatives in Congress who doubt that climate change poses a significant threat and fear that restrictions on utilities would be costly — and would eventually be applied to other carbon dioxide sources, notably cars and trucks.
More than half the nation's electricity is produced by burning coal, which generates the most carbon dioxide per watt of any fuel. So any restrictions on carbon dioxide would probably lead to a shift toward other options, like natural gas, and would inevitably have some economic impact, though estimates range widely.
Some conservatives also fear that any greenhouse-gas limits would signal that the Bush administration is planning to complete the Kyoto Protocol, a treaty negotiated under the Clinton administration that would commit the United States and 37 other industrialized countries to larger cuts in greenhouse gases. The treaty has not yet been ratified by any industrialized country.
Negotiations about vital details broke down in November and are scheduled to resume in July. During the campaign, Mr. Bush criticized the treaty, saying that it would harm the economy by raising fuel prices and that it unfairly excluded large developing countries like China and India from obligations to reduce their gas releases.
A task force within the administration is reviewing its stance on the treaty and other climate issues. But last week, Mrs. Whitman told a gathering of environment ministers from the Group of 8 — the leading economic powers and Russia — that the review "does not represent a backing away from Kyoto."
Perhaps the strongest proponent of controlling greenhouse gases within the administration is Treasury Secretary Paul H. O'Neill. As chairman of Alcoa, he spoke forcefully of the threat posed by the atmosphere's carbon dioxide levels, which have risen 25 percent since the late 1800's. "There is no doubt about this issue," he said in a 1998 speech.
Despite the intensifying effort to sway Mr. Bush from the power-plant bill, supporters of the legislation say that if it is written the right way it can eventually be passed with the president's support.
They point to the unequivocal language used in Mr. Bush's Sept. 29 position paper, which stated that he would seek legislation that would "establish mandatory reduction targets for emissions of four main pollutants: sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, mercury and carbon dioxide."
Not only that, proponents say, the same paper promoted the difference between his mandatory cuts and the proposal of his rival. "Vice President Gore has advocated only a voluntary program," Mr. Bush said.
One impediment to a bill is a sharp battle line drawn by some in industry against language that would label carbon dioxide as pollution. That classification would bring it under the umbrella of the Clean Air Act.
But a bill could be written that controls the gas while stating it is not a "pollutant," according to William F. Tyndall, vice president for environmental services and federal affairs at the Cinergy Corporation, a power company based in Cincinnati that has a fleet of coal-fired plants around the Midwest but supports a comprehensive plant cleanup.
We've been promoting this idea and see it as an elegant solution to a very difficult situation," Mr. Tyndall said. "I think it has a real shot."
Cinergy, American Electric Power — a huge coal-dependent midwestern power company — and some other utilities say they would accede to the limits in the expectation that the bill would provide flexibility. That could come in the form of allowing utilities to trade emissions credits earned by reducing emissions or planting forests, which sop up carbon dioxide through photosynthesis and store the carbon in wood and soil.
Just as important, Mr. Tyndall said, such a bill would eliminate uncertainty about future regulation, making it much easier for a company to decide which of its existing power plants to improve, which to shift to cleaner fuels like natural gas, and which to shut down.
For the moment, the White House is giving no signal about whether it will stick with the campaign position, with the first glimpse of its policy likely to come when Mr. Cheney's task force provides its initial findings on how to restore the country's energy balance. That report could be completed later this month.
In the meantime, opponents have built up their pressure, most visibly in sharp attacks on Mrs. Whitman for reaffirming in recent statements Mr. Bush's pledge to include carbon dioxide in a cleanup of power plants.
One e-mail message distributed recently to Congress, reporters and a list of conservatives by the Greening Earth Society, a group financed by coal-based utilities, described Mrs. Whitman as Christine Todd Browner — an allusion to Carol M. Browner, the E.P.A. administrator under President Clinton.
Yesterday, though, officials at the White House and E.P.A. said that Mrs. Whitman had not been pressured to change her remarks, though she was apparently nudged gently to tone things down.
"They are backing her up," said an E.P.A. official, referring to White House officials. "No one is telling her not to speak. Everything she said was in his campaign message. They're just saying let's have some caution in the public statements until we are finished with this review."