Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Moving Away From Bush On Global Warming

The Bush administration has regarded global warming, for the most part, as just so much silly speculation. The President has refused to take the lead in regulating the sources of greenhouse gases, prefering to seek only voluntary restraints. In 2001, President Bush took the US out of the Kyoto Protocol. Instead, the ironically named Clear Skies legislation was offered, seeking to roll back standards.

Now, several state governers, including Republicans, have taken the initiative. New York State's Governor George Pataki (Who, despite assertions to the contrary, is not in 12 year coma.) broke away from the administration's stance and proposed legislation this past May curbing automobile emissions. New York State has taken a similar approach to California, which passed legislation a year ago.

NEW YORK - Cars sold or registered in New York State must cut carbon dioxide emissions beginning in 2009, state officials said on Wednesday, in Republican Gov. George Pataki's latest break with the Bush Administration over steps to cut greenhouse gases.

Pataki, who is considering a run for president, in May proposed the regulation to cut greenhouse gases from cars. California passed similar rules about a year ago to curb emissions most scientists believe are leading to global climate change.

This effort has not gone unnoticed.

"Now New York is taking an all-encompassing effort to get at global warming both through power plants and transportation," said Kit Kennedy, an attorney at the Natural Resources Defense Council. "New York isn't waiting for President Bush or the federal government to take action," she said.

The larger issue here is one of political leadership. President Bush has refused to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from any source - cars, power plants or industrial sites - preferring instead a softer, voluntary approach that has yielded little progress. Congress, meanwhile, has refused to mandate significant increases in fuel efficiency.

Impatient governors who take global warming more seriously than Mr. Bush and Congress do - including Republicans like Arnold Schwarzenegger and Mr. Pataki - have therefore decided to take matters into their own hands.

In the vacuum of national leadership a regional effort has taken hold. In the northeast, 9 states have formed a group to address greenhouse gas emissions.

Pataki and eight other governors in the Northeast also are attempting to regulate greenhouse emissions from power plants through a group called the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. That effort has yet to be passed by individual states.

Other states are also addressing auto emissions in their own legislation. Some are still works in progress.

Last week, Vermont ruled it would cut carbon emissions from cars. Massachusetts, Maine Connecticut and Rhode Island are also moving to adopt similar rules.

When it is all said and done, almost one third of the retail automobile market will be covered by the new regulations.


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