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Bush Team to Call for More Climate Studies, Groups Say

Date: 25-Jul-03
Country: USA

The administration will release a report yesterday recommending a U.S.-backed study of the effects of global warming on the planet.

The Bush administration says its plan for more study will "advance the state of knowledge on climate variability, the potential response of the climate system ... to human-induced changes in the atmosphere," according to a draft portion of the study obtained by Reuters from environmental groups.

The study will be released by Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham and Commerce Secretary Don Evans at a news conference yesterday.

The Bush administration has taken heat from Democrats and environmental groups for its inaction on climate change since pulling the United States out of the Kyoto Protocol, a global agreement to limit greenhouse emissions.

And environmental groups said that the administration's goal in releasing the new report was delay, not research.

"More research is always welcome, but the goal here is just to delay doing anything about the problem," said Philip Clapp, president of the National Environmental Trust.

Dan Lashof, a climate change expert with the Natural Resources Defense Council, an environmental group, added: "The real question is why the administration is trying to make a big deal out of what is at best a mundane continuation of an ongoing climate science program."

Carbon dioxide is a heat-trapping greenhouse gas linked to automobile exhaust and other fossil fuels. A gradual increase in the earth's temperature is feared to have many harmful effects, including melting glaciers, raising sea levels and destroying some wildlife habitats.

But advocates of the administration's plan say that its long-term focus is necessary.

"This is a long-term approach that Congress has called for and finally the administration is standing up and delivering," said Frank Maisano, a utility lobbyist with Bracewell & Patterson.

The administration has rejected mandatory greenhouse gas limits in favor of a plan to reduce U.S. emission intensity by 18 percent over 10 years through voluntary industry measures.

The administration's so-called "Clear Skies" plan calls for a reduction in three pollutants spewed by coal-burning electricity plants and factories. A competing Senate bill proposed by Sen. Thomas Carper, a Democrat from Delaware, includes mandatory carbon dioxide reductions.

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