(CNSNews.com) - President George Bush Thursday called his emission control plan "a new environmental approach that will clean our skies, bring greater health to our citizens and encourage environmentally responsible development in America and around the world."
But critics on both sides of the global warming controversy are lambasting the White House plan. British author Philip Stott says Bush's "Clear Skies" initiative "smacks of European appeasement," while U.S. Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) calls the plan "all procrastination and no progress."
During a speech at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Silver Spring, Md., Bush proposed a host of measures to reduce industrial emissions, including tax incentives and a federal "registry" that will keep track of the pollution produced by companies. Bush set a goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 18 percent over ten years.
Through the use of tax incentives, the president's plan urges farmers to plant carbon dioxide-absorbing trees; consumers to buy hybrid and fuel-cell cars and solar water heaters; and industry to capture the potent greenhouse gas methane from landfills.
Bush's plan would also encourage wind and "biomass" energy generation, in which burning grass, trees and waste produces electricity. Bush's proposed budget sets aside $4.5 billion for global climate change, a $700 million increase, the administration said.
"This new approach will harness the power of markets, the creativity of entrepreneurs, and draw on the best scientific research," Bush said.
Bush rejected the Kyoto Protocol last year, citing economic costs to the U.S. The protocol would have required 40 industrialized nations to drastically reduce "greenhouse gas" emissions by the year 2012. The U.S. Senate in effect rejected the Kyoto Protocol in 1997 by a vote of 95-0.
Stott, a global warming skeptic and co-author with Dr Sian Sullivan of "Political Ecology: Science, Myth and Power", said Bush's alternative plan "smacks of European appeasement" and is nothing more than a "mini American-style Kyoto." Stott believes Bush is giving in to "European blackmail and bluster" on global warming.
"For many Europeans, Kyoto is only a means to an end, to an ultimate 60 percent cut in so-called greenhouse gas emissions and, effectively to the de-industrialization of the world," he explained.
Stott called proposed solutions like the Kyoto treaty "totally unproven" with "unverifiable environmental benefits."
He also sharply criticized Bush's "cap and trade" proposal for carbon emissions, which would enable the government to set mandatory limits on total industry output and let companies earn and trade credits.
Stott fears Bush's cap and trade plan will eventually extend across the globe, creating a situation in which wealthy countries buy pollution credits from economically-depressed nations like those that once comprised the Soviet Union.
"All that will result is a free-for-all in world carbon trading that will pour billions of dollars into the economic black hole that comprises Russia and the Ukraine, two countries with emissions, for all too obvious reasons, that are now below their 1990 levels," Stott lamented.
Kerry, who is eyeing a possible White House run in 2004, also lashed out at the president's plan.
"It may well lead to more pollution, not less. But I can say with certainty that it protects special interests at the expense of the environment, public health and the broader economy," Kerry said.
Bush's plan "misleads the American people by telling them they must choose between a healthy environment and a strong economy. The president's announcement today amounts to a false choice that sells our nation short," Kerry charged.
The Bush Administration seemed content to let both sides in the global warming debate duke it out. White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said, "It's a classic case of where some in the environmental community says the president doesn't go far enough and many in the business community say the president is going too far. I think that's probably an indication that the president has gotten it just right."
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