Jeffords Criticizes Bush Air Pollution Proposal

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(Host) This week, President Bush outlined his plan to slow the buildup of greenhouses gases that are blamed for climate change. The plan has received a mixed reception. Industry groups generally favor the proposal. Environmentalists say the plan falls short.

Vermont Senator James Jeffords chairs the committee that will consider the Bush plan. He says the administration’s proposal doesn’t go far enough to curb air pollution.

VPR’s John Dillon reports.

(Dillon) A year ago, President Bush rejected the Kyoto treaty on global warming. The treaty is supported by all other industrialized countries. It requires nations to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide to below 1990 levels.

Carbon dioxide is released by cars and power plants. It traps heat in the atmosphere and is the main pollutant blamed for global climate change.

The Bush administration argued the Kyoto protocol would stifle the country’s economy. Bush’s proposal doesn’t regulate carbon dioxide. Instead, the president proposed a plan that relies on incentives, such as tax breaks and credits to companies that trade emissions.

Vermont Independent Senator James Jeffords was disappointed in the president’s proposal. Jeffords says many other countries were looking to the United States for leadership:

(Jeffords) “I’ve already met with a number of the internationals. I had a meeting with a number of parliamentarians from England, Europe and Canada¿. There’s no way it’s satisfactory from that respect.”

(Dillon) Jeffords says the Bush proposal fails to recognize that the U.S. is responsible for 25% of the world’s greenhouse gases. He says that under the administration’s plan, the U.S. share would continue to grow.

While the administration backs voluntary measures to reduce carbon dioxide, it wants to tighten controls on other air pollutants. The Bush plan calls for mandatory cuts in sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and mercury. All three pollutants are released by power plants.

Jeffords, who chairs the Senate Environment Committee, says lakes and forests in Vermont are damaged by this air pollution. He says the Bush plan won’t do enough to protect the Northeast:

(Jeffords) “It was disappointing, but at least they put a bill in. That means we can mark it up and send it back. That means we can get into¿ a real sincere debate and negotiations and come out with a bill that this nation can be proud of.”

(Dillon) Jeffords says his committee hopes to vote out an air pollution bill by this summer.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m John Dillon.

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