The Bush Record - Global Warming Environment2004's report
- The Bush Record - Global Warming
The following material is excerpted from Environment2004's report The Bush Environmental Record: An Unprecedented Assault on our Health and Heritage. A complete version of this report which includes references and annotations may be downloaded in PDF format by clicking here.
Scientists say that unless global warming emissions are reduced, average temperatures could rise another 3 to 9 degrees Fahrenheit in the United States by the end of the century, with far-reaching effects:
Higher temperatures will worsen air pollution.
Sea levels will rise, flooding coastal areas.
Heat waves will be more frequent and intense.
More droughts and wildfires will occur in some regions, more heavy rains and flooding in others.
Species will disappear from historic ranges, as habitats are lost.
The American public understands that global warming is a pollution problem and that, like other pollution problems that we have licked in the past, global warming is a problem that we can solve with American ingenuity and new technology. Americans also understand that we cannot rely on big polluting industries to clean up voluntarily. Three-quarters of Americans support "mandatory controls on carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions," according to the Gallup poll.
But instead of taking action to curb global warming pollution, the Bush Administration suppresses science and distorts economics. Playing to his coal, oil, and auto industry constituents, President Bush rejects the scientific consensus articulated by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (a scientific body created by the first President Bush) and the National Academy of Sciences (in a report requested by the current President himself). Instead, the President follows his pollster's advice to exaggerate uncertainties and call for years more study. And even after the electric power industry pledged to increase its carbon pollution even faster than the Department of Energy projected, President Bush calls for total reliance on voluntary industry measures. The White House routinely withholds scientific and economic findings from the public and Congress, even suppressing and censoring reports by its own government agencies.
Most businesses know something needs to be done and expect that something will be done in the future. The Bush administration approach-pretending we can avoid meaningful action for the next decade-only makes business investments more uncertain for American companies. This puts us at a disadvantage relative to our competitors who have already made decisions about how they will respond.
The Bush Record
Letting Polluters off the Hook
Two months after taking office, President Bush retracted a campaign promise to support new laws that would reduce carbon pollution from power plants. Soon thereafter, the Bush Administration withdrew from the Kyoto Protocol - the global treaty calling for reducing carbon pollution - even though the United States is the single largest source of global warming pollution (one quarter of the world's emissions).
In February 2002, Bush announced his voluntary plan to address global warming. The president's voluntary target, announced last year, is phrased as a reduction in the nation's "emissions intensity "-- the amount of carbon pollution per dollar of economic output. But the administration's target lets total carbon pollution keep increasing every year. In fact, even if the administration's target is met, total U.S. global warming emissions will increase by 14% between 2002 and 2012 -- exactly the same rate at which emissions grew in the 1990s.
In the absence of Administration action, three bipartisan bills have been introduced in Congress that would cap carbon pollution and lead to real reductions. The Administration actively opposes all three bills, and instead endorses power plant legislation that ignores global warming entirely.
How President Bush Misleads the Public
Misrepresenting the Science
In a fashion not previously seen, Bush appointees have politicized science, altered reports by agencies, or simply deleted information from the public record that would have contradicted the Administration's claims and weakened their political goals. By siding with special interests fueling less-accepted science, the Bush Administration continues to misrepresent the certainty of accepted science on this subject.
In June 2003, the White House ordered the EPA to distort the portrayal of global warming science in its State of the Environment Report. Russell Train, former EPA Administrator under Presidents Nixon and Ford, wrote in a letter to the New York Times "there was never such White House intrusion into the business of the EPA during my tenure."
In September 2002, a whole chapter on global warming pollution was deleted from the EPA's annual report on air pollution trends.
In 2002 the White House redrafted a State Department climate report (prepared to comply with the 1992 climate treaty signed by the first President Bush) to over-emphasize scientific uncertainties about global warming impacts. President Bush then derided the report that his own White House had cleared as "put out by the bureaucracy."
The Bush administration ignored recommendations of the National Academy of Sciences to guide future research funding. Instead, it repackaged a long-term science research initiative begun by the first President Bush over ten years ago that is based on outdated information. The New York Times described Mr. Bush's plan as a "redundant examination of issues that had largely been settled, bereft of vision, executable goals and timetables - in short, little more than a cover-up for inaction."
While claiming credit for its new global warming science research program, the Administration merely reprogrammed existing funds at current levels.
Misleading the Public
The Bush Administration wants the public to believe it is reducing carbon pollution even though emissions are still growing. So instead of focusing on the total amount of carbon pollution going into the air, the Administration has shifted to a goal of reducing emissions "intensity," the rate of emissions per dollar of national economic product. Under the President's "intensity target," total U.S. carbon emissions will increase 14% in the next 10 years, the same rate at which they grew in the last 10 years.
In the U.S. electricity sector, which is responsible for 42% of U.S. emissions, and 10% of the world's carbon pollution, the Administration claims to have obtained concrete commitments to voluntarily reduce carbon pollution. In fact, that "commitment" is to reduce emissions "intensity" a mere 3-5% by 2012. But real emissions actually will grow faster than projected by the Department of Energy, and the reduction in intensity is nowhere near even the Administration target of 18% by 2012.
While giving lip service to the potential of technology to reduce carbon pollution , the White House perversely opposes incentives for currently available clean technology. President Bush's FY 2003 budget proposed to cut renewable energy programs, such as solar, wind and geothermal, by 36%, and energy efficiency research and development by 28%. While touting his hydrogen plan for its potential results decades from now, the Bush Administration actively opposes meaningful improvements to motor vehicle fuel economy over the next decade, which would reduce dependence on Middle East oil supplies while also reducing a major source of carbon pollution. Fuel economy of 2002-model automobiles fell to a 22-year low of 20.4 miles per gallon; despite great advances in fuel saving technology over the last 20 years.
In an attempt to strengthen support for the Administration's proposed power plant pollution bill that would not address carbon pollution, the Bush Administration has refused to provide Congress with an analysis of the costs and benefits of competing power pollution bills that would reduce carbon pollution.
Relying on an exaggerated DOE study, the White House claims the carbon pollution bill introduced by Senators John McCain, Republican of Arizona, and Joseph Lieberman, Democrat of Connecticut, would cost our economy over $100 billion in 2025. The administration suppressed an EPA cost analysis requested by McCain and Lieberman that would have shown negligible economic impact. A leaked copy of EPA's preliminary results found that the bill would cost only $1-2 billion, a mere one-hundredth of 1% of the U.S. economy.
There is a Choice
By obscuring the science of climate change, proposing programs that sound impressive but provide no meaningful decrease in emissions, and by opposing reasonable legislation in Congress, the Bush Administration continues to stand in the way of progress on addressing global warming. Instead of obscuring the scientific consensus, Democrats call for action. In the last two years, congressional Democrats and several Republicans have pushed mandatory reductions for carbon dioxide emissions from power plants and other sources to require electric power companies. Democrats have also led the charge to require electric power companies to buy increasing amounts of renewable energy such as solar and wind power. True leadership on the difficult issue of global warming is essential to protect our health, our economy, and the environment.
Environment2004. All Rights Reserved.
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