The Heat Is Online

Eleven Attorneys General Demand Action From Bush

State officials want Bush to act on global warming, July 18, 2002

WASHINGTON - Attorneys general from 11 U.S. states criticized President George W. Bush yesterday for failing to adopt a comprehensive policy to combat global warming, urging he "rethink" his response to climate change and enact a cap on greenhouse gases.

In a letter delivered to the White House, the 10 Democrats and one independent from states including New York, California, Massachusetts and Alaska wrote that inaction by the Republican administration had resulted in a confusing tangle of anti-pollution regulations passed by various states.

The Bush administration has received some of its most strident criticism on environmental issues, most recently for its plan to seek voluntary and not mandatory cuts in U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. Its withdrawal last year from the Kyoto climate treaty prompted an international outcry.

Global warming is thought to be caused by the atmospheric buildup of heat-trapping greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels.

The 3-1/2-page letter applauded the U.S. State Department's report issued in May that cited the threat to ecosystems and coastlines from rising global temperatures and sea levels, but criticized the administration for not acting on it.

"While we are certainly heartened that the United States has now officially recognized the existence and scope of the climate change problem, the administration has yet to propose a credible plan that is consistent with the dire findings and conclusions being reported," the letter said.

"In light of the (State Department) Report's findings, however, we urge you now to rethink the administration's policy response to the problem," the letter said.

An administration suggestion to increase the use of air conditioning to combat higher temperatures would only add to the emissions problem by increasing demand for power, it said.

Some individual states were moving "to fill the void left by federal inaction on this issue" by instituting carbon dioxide reductions by power plants or by vehicles, creating potential regulatory conflicts and uncertainty for business. The global nature of climate change lent itself to regulation at the national level, the letter said.

The attorneys general suggested creation of a market-based "cap" on greenhouse gases, a system used successfully on a smaller scale to curtail emissions whereby power plants buy or sell a shrinking pie of rights to emit certain pollutants.

Signatories to the letter were Attorneys General Thomas Reilly of Massachusetts, Bill Lockyer of California, Bruce Botelho of Alaska, Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, Steven Rowe of Maine, Joseph Curran of Maryland, Philip McLaughlin of New Hampshire, Eliot Spitzer of New York, Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, William Sorrell of Vermont, and independent David Samson of New Jersey.


Letter criticizes Bush on warning

11 attorneys general want policy on issue

The Boston Globe, July 18, 2002

Attorneys general from 11 states sent a letter yesterday to President Bush calling on him to end the administration's ''regulatory void'' and address the growing threat of global warming.

A White House spokesman said the president was working on a ''common-sense approach'' to the problem.

The letter from the 11 Democrats criticizes the Republican president for failing to set a national policy to curb carbon dioxide emissions from automobiles and power plants that contribute to global warming.

The four-page letter applauds the administration for a May report detailing the seriousness of the global warming problem, but argues that the administration ''has yet to propose a credible plan that is consistent with the dire findings and conclusions being reported.''

In an interview yesterday, Attorney General Thomas F. Reilly of Massachusetts said: ''What we're asking the administration to do is to deal with it and to deal with it now.

''There is a consensus with the issuance of the report that we have a serious environmental and public health problem caused by global warming.''

Although all the signers are Democrats, the letter was not about politics, Reilly said.

''This is about our environment, and it's about our future,'' he said.

Attorney General Eliot Spitzer of New York said, ''By acting now to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the Bush administration can provide regulatory certainty to the business community, can spur private sector investment in renewable energy and energy efficiency, and can lay the groundwork to avoid the potentially disastrous environmental, public health, and economic impacts of global warning.''

Many scientists say that global warming already is under way, increasing average temperatures by a couple of degrees in some places.

''Far from proposing solutions to the climate change problem, the administration has been adopting energy policies that would actually increase greenhouse gas emissions,'' said the letter, first reported in yesterday's editions of The New York Times.

White House spokesman Scott McClellan responded yesterday that Bush ''is moving forward on a bipartisan, common-sense approach to address climate change.''

''The president's plan will reduce growth in greenhouse gas emissions while sustaining the economic growth needed to invest in new technologies that can lead to a cleaner environment,'' McClellan said.

He noted that associations of both the state governors and state environmental commissioners have passed resolutions rejecting calls for mandatory reductions of carbon dioxide emissions.

States have been left to create a patchwork of inconsistent regulations, the attorneys general charged in the letter.

They called the issue ''the most pressing environmental challenge of the 21st century.''

Other attorneys general who signed the letter are from Alaska, California, Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Rhode Island, and Vermont.

The group is pushing for a cap on carbon dioxide emissions from power plants, as well as requirements to increase the average fuel mileage standards for automobiles.

The US Climate Action Report 2002, released in May, said that average temperatures have increased 1 degree over the past century, while the sea levels have risen four to eight inches. It projects an increase of 5 to 9 degrees over the next hundred years.

This story ran on page A3 of the Boston Globe on 7/18/2002.