Russia Ratifies Kyoto Protocol
Nov 2004 -- The Kyoto Protocol, the international treaty that embraces market-based solutions to limit greenhouse gas pollution, was ratified by the Russian parliament and signed by President Vladir Putin. Russia's participation provided the threshold needed to initiate the global warming plan.
Environment Covered In Second Presidential Debate
President Bush was impressive in listing his environmental accomplishments and proposals in the second presidential debate with Senator John Kerry. Senator Kerry attacked the president but did not describe his accomplishments on environmental issues. Senator Kerry specifically attacked the president for not supporting the Global Warming Treaty (Kyoto Protocol). Interestingly, Senator Kerry did not support the Kyoto Protocol when it came up for a vote in the Senate in 1997:
In July 1997, the U.S. Senate passed S. Res. 98 by a vote of 95-0. S. Res. 98 expressed the sense of the Senate that the "United States should not be a signatory to any protocol . . . which would
(A) mandate new commitments to limit or reduce greenhouse gas emissions from Annex I parties, unless the protocol . . . also mandates new specific scheduled commitments to limit or reduce greenhouse gas emissions for Developing Country Parties within the same compliance period, or
(B) would result in serious harm to the economy of the United States . . ."
U.S. Senate Roll Call Votes 105th Congress - 1st Session, Vote Date: July 25, 1997, 11:37 AM, Question: On the Resolution (s.res.98 ) Declares that the United States should not be a signatory to any protocol to, or other agreement regarding, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change of 1992, at negotiations in Kyoto in December 1997 or thereafter which would: (1) mandate new commitments to limit or reduce greenhouse gas emissions for the Annex 1 Parties, unless the protocol or other agreement also mandates new specific scheduled commitments to limit or reduce greenhouse gas emissions for Developing Country Parties within the same compliance period; or (2) result in serious harm to the U.S. economy.
Not Voting 5
Kerry (D-MA), Yea
(Excerpt) Read more at senate.gov ...
The transcript for the environment portion of the second debate is below:
(Source: Commission on Presidential Debates)
GIBSON: Mr. President, the next question is for you, and it comes from James Hubb over here.
HUBB: Mr. President, how would you rate yourself as an environmentalist? What specifically has your administration done to improve the condition of our nation's air and water supply?
BUSH: Off-road diesel engines -- we have reached an agreement to reduce pollution from off-road diesel engines by 90 percent.
I've got a plan to increase the wetlands by 3 million. We've got an aggressive brown field program to refurbish inner-city sore spots to useful pieces of property.
I proposed to the United States Congress a Clear Skies Initiative to reduce sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide and mercury by 70 percent.
I have -- was fought for a very strong title in the farm bill for the conservation reserve program to set aside millions of acres of land to help improve wildlife and the habitat.
We proposed and passed a healthy forest bill which was essential to working with -- particularly in Western states -- to make sure that our forests were protected. What happens in those forests, because of lousy federal policy, is they grow to be -- they are not -- they're not harvested. They're not taken care of. And as a result, they're like tinderboxes.
And over the last summers I've flown over there. And so, this is a reasonable policy to protect old stands of trees and at the same time make sure our forests aren't vulnerable to the forest fires that have destroyed acres after acres in the West.
We've got a good, common-sense policy.
Now, I'm going to tell you what I really think is going to happen over time is technology is going to change the way we live for the good for the environment.
That's why I proposed a hydrogen automobile -- hydrogen-generated automobile. We're spending $1 billion to come up with the technologies to do that.
That's why I'm a big proponent of clean coal technology, to make sure we can use coal but in a clean way.
I guess you'd say I'm a good steward of the land.
The quality of the air's cleaner since I've been the president. Fewer water complaints since I've been the president. More land being restored since I've been the president.
Thank you for your question.
GIBSON: Senator Kerry, minute and a half.
KERRY: Now, when it comes to the issue of the environment, this is one of the worst administrations in modern history. The Clear Skies bill that he just talked about, it's one of those Orwellian names you pull out of the sky, slap it onto something, like "No Child Left Behind" but you leave millions of children behind. Here they're leaving the skies and the environment behind.
If they just left the Clean Air Act all alone the way it is today, no change, the air would be cleaner that it is if you pass the Clear Skies act. We're going backwards.
In fact, his environmental enforcement chief air-quality person at the EPA resigned in protest over what they're doing to what are calling the new source performance standards for air quality.
They're going backwards on the definition for wetlands. They're going backwards on the water quality.
They pulled out of the global warming, declared it dead, didn't even accept the science. I'm going to be a president who believes in science.
GIBSON: Mr. President?
BUSH: Well, had we joined the Kyoto treaty, which I guess he's referring to, it would have cost America a lot of jobs.
It's one of these deals where, in order to be popular in the halls of Europe, you sign a treaty. But I thought it would cost a lot - I think there's a better way to do it.
And I just told you the facts, sir. The quality of the air is cleaner since I've been the president of the United States. And we'll continue to spend money on research and development, because I truly believe that's the way to get from how we live today to being able to live a standard of living that we're accustomed to and being able to protect our environment better, the use of technologies.
GIBSON: Senator Kerry, 30 seconds.
KERRY: The fact is that the Kyoto treaty was flawed. I was in Kyoto, and I was part of that. I know what happened. But this president didn't try to fix it. He just declared it dead, ladies and gentlemen, and we walked away from the work of 160 nations over 10 years.
You wonder, Nikki, why it is that people don't like us in some parts of the world. You just say: Hey, we don't agree with you. Goodbye.
The president's done nothing to try to fix it. I will.
EPA Inspector General's Utility Air Pollution Report Misses Forest For Trees
October 2004 -- Although AAEA opposed the New Source Review (NSR) regulation changes by the Bush administration, we believe the recently released EPA Inspector General's (IG) report, an attempt to rebuke the administration for supposedly relaxing air pollution standards, is a case of missing the forest for the trees. AAEA opposed the rule change because we knew it would only lead to more litigation instead of utility plant scrubber retrofits. Legal actions against major polluters stalled because of the agency's decision to revise rules governing emissions at older coal-fired power plants. Legal actions would have stalled under the old NSR rule because it would have been easier to litigate than to retrofit. The IG report misses the point that the original New Source Review rule was not leading to scrubber retrofits. It was leading to litigation.
AAEA believes that the Clear Skies Initiative is the best way to clean the air. Utilities are excited about cap and trade and traditional environmental groups admit that cap and trade worked in the Acid Rain Program. Just as AAEA predicted, the revised NSR rule, made final in 2003, has not been put in effect yet because of legal challenges.
Although the report is critical, the inspector general cannot force the agency to do anything. The report also showcased a split in the agency between political officials in the air quality office, and lawyers charged with enforcement, including some who have left the agency in frustration. Under the Bush proposal, the requirement would not be triggered until plant upgrades reached a cost of 20 percent of the value of the plant - even though agency enforcement officials recommended that the trigger be set no higher than three-quarters of one percent.
Although EPA had reached settlements with several industrial companies that agreed to install pollution controls to reduce emissions, and many other companies were in settlement talks with the EPA's enforcement branch, we believe the argument over 'major modifications (that triggers NSR) versus minor modications' would continue.. Now, with everything in limbo, companies are no longer under pressure to agree to settlements. Again, whether it was old NSR or new NSR, weakened utilties were not going to make the billions of dollars of investments in scrubbers needed to clean the smokestakes. Clear Skies would clear this log jam.
EPA and National Urban League Join Forces To Protect Children from Environmental Health Risks
EPA has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the National Urban League to work together on protecting children in socioeconomically disadvantaged communities from environmental health risks. Children in socioeconomically disadvantaged communities may be disproportionately affected by environmental hazards. For example, children of lower-income families are more likely to have asthma attacks and elevated blood lead levels.
In the last three decades, asthma --- a diagnosed disease --- has nearly doubled in the United States. It has become the No. 1 chronic disease of children. It is the primary reason that kids across the country are hospitalized and one of the top reasons they miss school and curtail physical activity. Each October, EPA commemorates Children's Health Month, which is designed to increase public awareness and provide tools that the general public, health care providers, environmental professionals and businesses can use to help protect children from environmental health risks. This agreement facilitates better communication between EPA and the National Urban League, resulting in more collaborative protection of the environment and greater awareness of health issues that impact children.
The agreement is designed to:
(1) strengthen the collaborative efforts of EPA and the National Urban League in safeguarding the nation's resources and protecting human health, particularly children's health;
(2) increase the Urban League's access to information about EPA's programs and services;
(3) explore opportunities for partnerships between Urban League and EPA in addressing environmental challenges; and
(4) promote the continued improvement of communication and outreach efforts between the Urban League, its affiliates and EPA.
Founded in 1910, the National Urban League is the nation's oldest and largest community-based movement devoted to empowering African Americans to enter the economic and social mainstream.