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08:03 PM ET 07/14/98

Gore blames severe U.S. weather on global warming

	 
	    By Patrick Connole
	    WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Vice President Al Gore Tuesday
attributed fires in Florida and killer heat in Texas to global
warming and accused Congress of dragging its heels on climate
change.
	    New information from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Administration showed last month was the warmest June in modern
global weather history, Gore said.
	    Projections for July indicated it could surpass June and be
the warmest month recorded on the planet for the past 600 years,
he said.
	    ``Think about it, the hottest June on record. Withering
heatwaves in Texas and in Florida. Cities that are setting
thousand-year records for high temperatures,'' Gore said.
	    ``How much more proof do we need that global warming is
real? How much longer will politicians with their heads in the
sand hold out for doing nothing?''
	    The vice president criticized the House committee for
attaching to the proposed 1999 spending bill for the departments
of Veterans Affairs and Housing and Urban Development a rider
that would bar federal agencies from advocating the
administration's views on climate change.
	    Gore said congressional opponents of the Clinton
administration plan to address global warming were hurting the
nation by politicizing the issue.
	    ``Month after month, week after week, how long is it going
to take before these people in the Congress get the message?
People are sweltering out there,'' Gore said.
	    The Kyoto pact signed last December calls for industrial
nations to cut greenhouse gas emissions by an average of five
percent below 1990 levels by the year 2010.
	    Opponents say the treaty -- which must be ratified by the
Senate to become binding -- would hurt the U.S. economy and
favors developing nations.
	    Dr. John Holdren, an adviser to Gore on global warming, said
evidence was mounting that global climate change had started
and ``that the principle cause of it is emissions of greenhouse
gasses from fossil fuel combustion.''
	    The NOAA data said extreme weather may be caused by such
emissions. The report noted some parts of the United States like
New England were unusually wet while others were bone dry.
	    ``This strange pattern of weather is in keeping with the
consequences that were predicted as a result of global warming.
If you like what's going on, well you'll love what's in store in
the future, unless we do something about it,'' Gore said.
	    The vice president said Amarillo, Texas, stayed above 100
degrees Fahrenheit (37 degrees C) for 13 days in June, and the
heat in Dallas had killed 15 people since the beginning of June.
	    Gore pushed Congress to approve a Clinton administration
plan to spur industries to reduce greenhouse has emissions by
offering tax incentives and new government policies.
	    He praised United Technologies Corp (UTX.N), the Hartford,
Connecticut manufacturer, for its announcement on Tuesday that
it would trim energy and water use by 25 percent as a percentage
of sales by the year 2007.
	    ``Too many in the Congress are still standing in the way. We
know that if we act now we can beat the challenge of global
warming without economic cooling,'' Gore said.
	    The Competitive Enterprise Institute, a free market, small
government group, decried Gore's sentiments, saying ``not a dime
of taxpayer money'' should be spent on advocating Kyoto language
until the Senate ratifies the global warming treaty.
	  
 ^REUTERS@