problem. This is a major disaster for the world,” said Russell E.
Train, who served as EPA administrator under Presidents Richard M.
Nixon and Gerald R. Ford from 1973 to 1977. “To say we’ll deal with it
later and try to push it away is dishonest to the people, and
Lee M. Thomas, who headed the agency from 1985
to 1989 under Ronald Reagan, said U.S. businesses would welcome federal
regulation at this point because it would allow them to plan for the
kind of investments that will be needed to cut carbon dioxide emissions
linked to climate change.
Companies want “certainty as to what is
required down the road,” Thomas said. “You’ve got to put an
international scheme in place that says ‘We’re going to start action
today’ and periodically we’re going to review these things and see if
we need to tighten things or loosen them. You can’t wait until you have
certainty on these issues. Then it’s way too late.”
living former administrators who did not join in the panel were Mike
Leavitt, who now heads the Department of Health and Human Services and
could not attend because of a scheduling conflict, and Douglas M.
Costle, who served under President Jimmy Carter. Costle could not
attend for health reasons.
Carol M. Browner, the lone Democrat
present, told reporters after the session that the panel’s consensus on
the need for regulation is “huge,” calling it “a testament to the
reality of the issue and a recognition that it’s time to do something.”
the agency’s current head, Stephen L. Johnson, said the administration
remains committed to pursuing voluntary emission reductions and
technological innovation rather than requiring mandatory cuts. Noting
that automobiles account for a significant portion of carbon dioxide
emissions, Johnson said: “Are we going to tell people to stop driving
their cars, or do we start investing in technology [to cut emissions]?
That’s the answer, investing in those technologies.”
yesterday, the EPA announced that four corporations — Baxter
International Inc., General Motors, IBM, and SC Johnson — and the
Energy Department’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory had met their
voluntary greenhouse gas reduction goals through the government’s
Climate Leaders program. A total of 79 American firms, which generate
roughly 8 percent of the nation’s total output of greenhouse gases,
primarily carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels, have vowed to
reduce their emissions by an amount equal to taking 5 million cars off
the road each year.
Environmentalists said the fact that so many
EPA administrators could agree on the importance of mandatory carbon
limits shows the extent to which most policymakers want more sweeping
action on climate change.
“I can’t remember anything quite like
it,” said Jeremy Symons, who directs the global warming campaign for
the advocacy group, the National Wildlife Federation. “It should be an
unprecedented wake-up call for anyone concerned about our planet. The
question is whether President Bush is going to listen, since he’s
ignored scientists in the past.”
But the administrators’
statements failed to move Myron Ebell, who heads the Competitive
Enterprise Institute’s global warming policy program.
administrators like to regulate things,” said Ebell, whose think tank
receives contributions from companies opposed to mandatory carbon
limits. “That what EPA does. That’s their only approach to anything.”
See Washington Post story
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, January 19, 2006; Page A04