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[GreenYes] Global Warming - NYTimes Editorial
NEW YORK TIMES -- 1/15/03
 New Players on Global Warming

Given the Bush administration's inert approach to global warming, the best
hope for getting a start on the problem this year lies with the Senate. The
prospect that something will actually happen there improved greatly this
week with the introduction of a bipartisan bill bearing the signatures of
two marquee sponsors, Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut and John McCain of
The bill provides an economywide approach to cutting emissions of greenhouse
gases, mainly carbon dioxide, that threaten to disrupt the earth's climate
in environmentally destructive ways. It would require industrial sources to
scale back emissions and would also establish a market-based system of
emissions trading, modeled on the successful 1990 acid rain program, to
encourage innovation and help polluting industries meet their targets at the
lowest possible cost.
These targets are more modest than America's obligations under the Kyoto
Protocol, the agreement on climate change signed by the Clinton
administration in 1997 and rejected as too costly by President Bush. Kyoto
has since been ratified by about 100 countries. But given the
administration's hostility, even the most aggressive environmentalists in
this country would be happy just to establish clear goals and provide
incentives for all the big polluters to begin getting a grip on their
The McCain-Lieberman initiative is a good place to start. There are other
measures on Capitol Hill that address global warming, including a strong
bill sponsored by Senator James Jeffords of Vermont that would also impose
new limits on other major pollutants that cause smog and acid rain. But
these bills are aimed almost exclusively at the electric utilities, whereas
McCain-Lieberman is widespread in its application. It also enjoys the
support of the major advocacy groups on this issue, as well as that of
dozens of progressive companies like Alcoa and British Petroleum that are
making emissions reductions in advance of what they are certain will
eventually be mandatory targets.
The bill's strongest feature, however, may be its authorship. Mr. Lieberman
supported Kyoto and is committed to aggressive action. Mr. McCain is a
relatively new ally to the cause, and an indispensable one. As the new
chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, where he commands a majority of
like-minded Democrats and moderate Republicans, he has an excellent chance
of bringing a useful bill to the Senate floor. The same cannot be said of
the other bills like Mr. Jeffords's, which are lodged in the Environment and
Public Works Committee, a panel now led by the archconservative James Inhofe
of Oklahoma.
Though it's hard to predict how this will play out, there has clearly been a
major attitudinal change, even among Republicans, since 1997, when the
Senate approved a resolution expressing doubts about the direction the Kyoto
talks were then taking. Many legislators are deeply troubled by reports of
shrinking glaciers, dying coral reefs and other ecological changes linked to
warming. And many of these same lawmakers - not least Robert Byrd of West
Virginia, a co-sponsor of the 1997 resolution - have lost patience with Mr.
Bush's let's-wait-for-more-research stance. The time for the
McCain-Lieberman approach may well be at hand.
Peter Anderson
4513 Vernon Blvd. Suite 15
Madison, WI 53705
Ph:    (608) 231-1100
Fax:   (608) 233-0011
Cell    (608) 438-9062
email: anderson@no.address

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