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E-M:/ American Progress Report - major environment section today....



Exerpt from AMERICAN PROGRESS REPORT listserv daily report
http://www.americanprogress.org/

ENVIRONMENT
Hypersensitive And Still In Denial

On Sunday, while citizens and environmentalists around the world celebrated Earth Day "with events aimed at protecting nature and raising awareness about global warming," President Bush failed to even mention the words "global warming" in his annual Earth Day address. Bush also failed to mention the issue in a State of the Union address until this year. This weekend, senior political adviser Karl Rove demonstrated once again the great lengths to which the White House will go to avoid talking about global warming. When singer Sheryl Crow and An Inconvenient Truth producer Laurie David asked Rove to rethink Bush's position on global warming, Rove " exploded" at the duo. "We asked Mr. Rove if he would consider taking a fresh look at the science of global warming. Much to our dismay, he immediately got combative. ... Anger flaring, Mr. Rove immediately regurgitated the official Administration position on global warming," they said. The White House defended Rove's temper flare-up, arguing that Crow and David did not "afford the president the same respect that they are asking for." The White House's over-sensitivity on the matter may come from the fact that it is out of step with three-quarters of the American public and is growing more and more isolated on dealing one of the world's biggest threats.

'A MODEL FOR THE WORLD': While the Bush has taken only tiny steps to address global climate change, the White House maintains that its approach is a " model for the world." "The Bush administration is now and always has been committed to cutting greenhouse gas emissions and confronting climate change. President Bush's concern about climate change is not new and has been a top priority for the president ever since his first year in office," said two of Bush's top science advisers. But on at least three occasions last year, Bush claimed there was still a "debate" among scientists on whether global warming is man-made or natural. The U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has issued "history's most definitive statement of scientific consensus on climate change." Shirking his electoral promise to curb carbon dioxide emissions, greenhouse gas emissions have steadily increased during Bush's tenure, giving the United States the dubious title of being the " world's largest source of greenhouse gases."

NATIONAL SECURITY AT STAKE: A team of retired military generals, including the former Army chief of staff and Bush's former chief Middle East negotiator, released a study last week on how "global climate change presents a serious national security threat that could affect Americans at home, impact U.S. military operations and heighten global tensions." "The report warned that in the next 30 to 40 years there will be wars over water, increased hunger instability from worsening disease and rising sea levels and global warming-induced refugees." Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) discussed these issues in a major climate policy speech yesterday. Echoing the generals' study, McCain said, "The world is already feeling the powerful effects of global warming, and far more dire consequences are predicted if we let the growing deluge of greenhouse gas emissions continue." Despite issuing such reality-based rhetoric, there is reason to question McCain's sincerity. On the same day of the speech, McCain announced that former Defense Secretary James Schlesinger "will advise [McCain's] campaign on energy and national security issues." Schlesinger is a prominent global warming denier who has asserted that " we simply do not know what extent" greenhouse gases contribute to global warming.

THE NEED FOR CARBON LIMITS: Some prominent conservatives have parted with their ranks and publicly acknowledged the human cause of global warming. For example, Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA) "said he accepts there is a general consensus among scientists that Earth has gotten warmer over the last century and that humans have contributed to that problem, conceding that his views might not find favor with some of his fellow conservatives." In a debate with Sen. John Kerry (D-MA), Gingrich distanced himself from skeptics like Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK), asserting that "the evidence is sufficient that we should move towards the most effective possible steps to reduce carbon-loading of the atmosphere." While his recognition of global warming is a welcome step, Gingrich's strict market-based solutions are not tenable. "[Gingrich] believes the best way to solve the problem is to unleash the spirit of American entrepreneurship, not the power of government. 'Regulation and litigation are the least effective methods of getting to solutions,'" he argued. In response, Kerry asserted, "You can't just sit there and say, oh, let the market respond. That's like saying, Barry Bonds, go investigate steroids. Or like saying, Enron, you take over the pensions for America. Not going to happen." Kerry instead advocated a ceiling on carbon emissions, which is being successfully implemented in California and is predicted to be a boon to the state's economy. Such caps, like the limit on sulfur emissions in the 1990 Clean Air Act, have been effective environmental and public health strategies. Last week, a bipartisan group of Senators pledged to introduce "legislation that would cap carbon emissions from power plants."

CONGRESS TAKES THE REIGNS: Environmental Protection Agency administrator Stephen Johnson will testify today in front of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. His testimony comes in the wake of the Supreme Court ruling that the federal government "does indeed have authority to regulate greenhouse gases linked to global warming" despite the White House's claim to the contrary. "In his prepared remarks, Johnson asserts that even before the Supreme Court decision, 'the Administration had been implementing aggressive steps to tackle climate change.'" Chairman Barbara Boxer (D-CA) responded, "When I called him to task on the environmental rollbacks, he gave a speech on how wonderful everything is. He doesn't get it, or he doesn't want to get it." Johnson "will be flanked by two of his predecessors -- a Republican and Democrat -- who believe the Bush administration is downright truculent in its opposition to a greenhouse gas regulatory scheme." Boxer said she will press Johnson on climate change today. "When EPA Administrator Steve Johnson comes before my committee today, I will challenge him to use the power EPA has had all along to address global warming, and has refused to use."

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