Friday, May 18, 2007

EcoTalk and the NY Times: why is Bush stalling on global warming?

Frank O'Donnell on Bush's slooow turn towards the light

Clean Air Watch President (and EcoTalk favorite) Frank O'Donnell weighs in on the President Bush's pledge to abide by the Clean Air Act (or at least mouth words to that effect). "I think that the president has come up with a strategy to stall off any kind of action, and essentially put the US EPA into a straitjacket of bureaucratic process," Frank tells Betsy. Does this have to be "a long process", as the President says? LISTEN (10 min)
A New York Times editorial:

May 18, 2007

Rose Garden Charade

Confronted with soaring gasoline prices, a Congress growing more restless by the day about oil dependency and a Supreme Court demanding executive action on global warming emissions, President Bush stepped before the cameras in the Rose Garden the other day and said, essentially, nothing.

He announced that he had ordered four federal agencies to “work together” to devise regulations reducing greenhouse gases. He also renewed his call for greater investments in alternative fuels. But neither he nor the cadre of designated briefers who followed him provided any detail, so nobody knows whether he will in fact end up asking for more efficient cars or what sort of alternative fuels he has in mind or, more broadly, what sort of reduction in greenhouse gas emissions he hopes to achieve.

What we did learn was that he has chosen to make the process as cumbersome and time-consuming as possible. We also learned that nothing concrete will happen until the regulatory process is completed at the end of 2008 — a mere three weeks before Mr. Bush walks out the White House door. As Edward Markey, a Massachusetts Democrat, aptly noted, this “will leave motor vehicle fuel economy stuck in neutral until Bush’s successor takes office.”

This is, in short, yet another of Mr. Bush’s faith-based energy strategies, in which the operative words are “trust me.” The White House says that good regulations need time to develop. That is true, but we would be more inclined to cut Mr. Bush some slack if not for the fact that speedier routes are readily available.

For one thing, he could have simplified matters by letting the Environmental Protection Agency run the whole regulatory show, which is what the Supreme Court had in mind. He could also have ordered the E.P.A. to grant California the permission it has been seeking for more than two years to impose its own emissions standards on cars and light trucks, which it can do under the Clean Air Act once it gets a federal waiver. But the automakers desperately do not want California or the 11 other states that plan to imitate California to get that authority, and Mr.

Bush is obviously in no hurry to grant it.

What we are seeing is the obligatory response of a president who finds himself boxed into a corner by Congress and the court and forced to appear to be doing something. At bottom, his administration doubts the urgency of the climate change issue and remains deeply averse to mandates and regulatory timetables.

Nowhere has this been more clear than in Germany, where administration officials have spent the last few weeks trying to water down commitments for next month’s Group of 8 meeting.

Specifically, it has objected to any treatment of global warming as an urgent problem and rejected long-term emissions targets backed by other nations and, increasingly, by many of Mr. Bush’s natural allies in the business community. For a clear view of administration policy, one must turn not to the Rose Garden but to Europe.

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