Carbon cop-out

A Bush in your pocket is worth more than one of his promises during a campaign.

This is the little pebble of wisdom learned by both environmentalists and any American citizen who harbored even the slightest bit of hope that President George W. Bush couldn’t possibly be as bad for the environment as his detractors feared.

Bush last week sent a mild shock through the political and environmental communities when he announced that he was not going to follow up on his campaign promise to regulate the carbon dioxide emissions of power plants.

As part of a larger promise to “establish mandatory reduction targets for emissions of four main pollutants”—which includes sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, mercury and carbon dioxide—Bush cited a burgeoning energy crisis and sagging economy as reasons not to honor his promise.

California Public Interest Research Group (CalPIRG) responded with a public statement slamming Bush’s decision as “[It’s] a blatant payoff to the polluting industries that funded his campaign, and a betrayal to the American public.”

Carbon dioxide is a key cause of global warming, an environmental threat which President Bush has only recently acknowledged as a problem, although it is one he has yet to address with official policy.

Such presidential betrayals of environmental promises are nothing new, says Sacramento air quality specialist Earl Withycombe. President Bush’s decision not to regulate carbon dioxide emissions of power plants “is not significantly different than what the Clinton administration had been doing.”

Bush’s reasoning, meanwhile, that cracking down on power plants’ CO2 emissions would be detrimental to the economy, is disputed by CalPIRG as being self-serving.

“The [Department of Energy] has found that if the president kept his promise to clean up power plants, we could reduce their contribution to global warming while saving money for residential electric consumers,” wrote the group.