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1 Alexandria Novo Political Science 327 Professor: Charles Adside III An Analysis of the Bush Administrations Environmental Legislation

Regarding Greenhouse Gas Emissions Introduction A well-documented rise in global temperatures has coincided with a significant increase in the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Scientists believe the two trends are related, and human actions are responsible for the increase in greenhouse gas emissions. When greenhouse gases are released into the atmosphere, they act like the glass in a greenhouse, trapping solar energy and slowing the escape of reflected heat. There are four major gases, carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and fluorinated gases, which are considered greenhouse gases (EPA website). The vast majority of US greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are carbon dioxide (84%), and 69% of carbon dioxide emissions are due to transportation and electricity (EPA website). For most of the Bush Administration, not much action was taken towards regulating GHG emissions. Throughout George W Bushs terms as president his stance on environmental issues was weak. Upon first being elected, Bush had the opportunity to sign the Kyoto Protocol, a climate change treaty that 192 parties ratified. However, Bush refused to sign it explaining that it placed the US at a disadvantage since developing countries were exempt from the Protocol and only developed countries were held responsible for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. He was against any legislation that exempted developing countries like India and China since they emit large amounts of GHG. Bush realized that in order to solve environmental problems facing future generations, all countries need to be held responsible, not just the developed ones. Throughout his presidency, Bush suggested two regulatory initiatives, the Clear Skies Initiative

2 and Methane to Markets Partnership, and only one was successful. Only after Massachusetts vs. EPA and did Bush address environmental problems caused by carbon dioxide; he spoke in the Rose Garden in response to the Courts ruling and how he felt the United States should respond to environmental problems. Clear Skies Initiative In February 2002, Bush announced the Clear Skies Initiative, which utilized the cap and trade system for coal-fired power plants (Reed 2012). The goal was to reduce three pollutants: sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, and mercury. Nitrous oxide was specifically included since power plants in the Midwest produce pollutants that cause acid rain on the East coast, which damages buildings and increases acidity of lakes and rivers (Reed 2012). The outline of the initiative is described: Plants would be given a quota, or cap, and allowed to sell (trade) any reductions below that cap to other plants that could not reduce emissions below their caps (Reed 2012). The president ordered the EPA to take action while waiting for broad legislation to limit nitrogen, sulfur, and mercury emissions. However, environmental groups protested the policy and stated that it would lessen the strength of the Clean Air Act. There was controversy with the EPA and conflicts with other offices in the administration. The bill was defeated in committee in 2005 by a vote of 9-9 (Reed 2012). Methane to Markets Partnership Bushs second policy effort was more successful and the EPA still utilizes this policy today. In 2004 Bush introduced Methane to Markets Partnership, which commits America funds and expertise to projects that collect and burn methane from landfills, wastewater, coral beds, and agricultural operations throughout the developing world (Reed 2012). Methane impacts global warming 21 times more so than carbon dioxide, and aggressive implementation of

3 the Methane to Markets Partnership could equal or exceed the impact of the Kyoto Protocol (Reed 2012). Currently this initiative is called the Global Methane Initiative, and it helps 13 other countries recover methane and use it as a clean energy source (EPA website). The Global Methane Initiative involves six federal agencies working together to eliminate methane emissions internationally along with state and local governments working with the EPA to reduce emissions within the United States (EPA website). This was one of Bushs successful environmental actions, and it is still in practice today. Massachusetts vs. EPA The EPA was initially reluctant to regulate greenhouse gas emissions. The Clean Air Act was written to resolve point source air pollution such as factories or mining operations, and creating regulations for something as ubiquitous as carbon dioxide is a completely different strategy. The EPA claimed that carbon dioxide does not apply to the Clean Air Act because it was written for six specific air pollutants: particle pollution, ground-level ozone, carbon monoxide, sulfur oxides, nitrogen oxides, and lead (EPA Website). The EPA regulates these pollutants by setting primary standards, which are limits based off of studies of human health and secondary standards, which are limits based off of environmental health. The EPA ensures that these primary and secondary levels are not exceeded. Setting limits for greenhouse gases, especially carbon dioxide, is nearly impossible since in an isolated area, they do not pose similar threats as the six initial pollutants. Humans produce carbon dioxide through respiration, and driving, cooking in a restaurant, and heating systems in apartments can cause increased levels of carbon dioxide, yet to not pose a risk to human health. These reasons along with weak presidential support were why the EPA was hesitant to tighten GHG regulation, until Massachusetts vs. EPA.

4 On October 20, 1999, a group of 19 private organizations filed a rulemaking petition asking EPA to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from new motor vehicles under 202 of the Clean Air Act. Petitioners maintained that greenhouse gas emissions have significantly accelerated climate change; and that the IPCCs 1995 report warned, carbon dioxide remains the most important contributor to [man-made] forcing of climate change (Massachusetts v EPA, 2007). They argued that carbon dioxide emissions are within the scope of the EPA to regulate. However, the EPA reasoned that the original Clean Air Act was written to address local air pollutants rather than something that is fairly consistent in its concentration throughout the worlds atmosphere (Massachusetts v EPA, 2007). The EPA argued that the scope of carbon dioxide was so beyond the original intent of the Clean Air Act that Congress should be creating legislation to control emissions instead of leaving it to the agency. The Act defines air pollutant to include any air pollution agent including any physical, chemical substance emitted into the ambient air. 7602(g) Furthermore, the only feasible way to control emissions would be to push for more stringent fuel economy standards, which the Department of Transportation is in charge of, and if the EPA were to start regulating fuel efficiently it would conflict with the DOT. EPA endorsed regulation of motor vehicle emissions is a piecemeal approach to climate change, and it was afraid any legislation passed could contradict with the Presidents comprehensive approach (Massachusetts v EPA, 2007). The President could enact a variety of programs such as private-sector reductions, further research on climate change, and coordinate with other key developing countries to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and the EPAs unilateral regulation could hamper the Presidents vision. The EPA also argues that United States emissions have been decreasing in current years, and any reductions made would be offset by emissions from developing nations such as China

5 and India. Yet the Supreme Court found this argument ineffective; most challenges seem large when initially presented, but failing to do anything would lead to little progress anywhere. Large problems are not meant to be solved in one fell regulatory swoop (Massachusetts v EPA, 2007). Instead, little steps are needed to change social norms and whittle down the problem. Furthermore, the transportation sector emits a substantial portion of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, and any small reduction would make a meaningful contribution to lessening carbon dioxide emissions. The Supreme Court sided with the petitioners, and supported that the EPA should try to minimize carbon dioxide emissions in order to lessen the harms associated with climate change. Sea levels are rising, and Massachusetts has already lost coastal land with a bleak outlook for the future; the EPA should try to limit the threats of global warming. EPA does not dispute the existence of a causal connection between man-made greenhouse gas emissions and global warming. At a minimum, therefore, EPAs refusal to regulate such emissions contributes to Massachusetts injuries (Massachusetts v EPA, 2007). The Supreme Court concludes by stating: Because greenhouse gases fit well within the Clean Air Acts capacious definition of air pollutant, we hold that EPA has the statutory authority to regulate the emission of such gases from new motor vehicles (Massachusetts v EPA, 2007). The Court held that the "EPA must ground its reasons for action or inaction in the statute" (Massachusetts vs EPA, 2007). In a previous case, it was upheld that the role of the EPA is to regulate any air pollutant that may endanger the public welfare, which carbon dioxide was proven to do in this court case (FDA v. Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corp.). President Bush was against legislation that mandated carbon reductions over short time frames since carbon dioxide is integral in much of American industry and any drastic changes

6 could harm the economy and lead to job loss. However, it is impossible to deny that global warming is not caused by human activities, which the Bush administration acknowledges in December 2007 when the EPA published an analysis titled Deliberative, Do Not Distribute (Samuelsohn and Bravender 2009). Clean Air Act The EPA determines an ambient air quality standard for pollutants and it is up to the state and federal government to comply with these standards by preparing and enforcing state implementation plans (SIPs) (Oren, 2010). However, models vary widely on the ambient air quality standard for carbon dioxide, and once a standard is set, it would be up to the states to limit their own emissions, which vary widely state by state. Currently, the EPA has set regulations for light duty motor vehicles and large stationary sources, however the EPA is ill suited to controlling greenhouse has emissions from millions of currently existing smaller sources such as cars, residential buildings, and institutional sources (Nordhaus, 2012). Regulations exist for new, large stationary sources and car designs however, it is not a comprehensive solution, and mainly impacts new construction ignoring the current producers (Oren, 2010). The EPA could categorize carbon dioxide as a hazardous air pollutant, defined as causing significant degradation of environmental quality over broad areas, but with this categorization comes little regulatory powers. The Clean Air Act has been successful at reducing many pollutants in the United States and improving air quality, yet it does not have the scope necessary to solve all of Americas greenhouse gas emission problems; for that, Congress needs to pass legislation designed specifically with the issues of global warming in mind. The ideal regulatory method of greenhouse gas emissions would be an economy wide cap- and-trade or carbon tax system (Nordhaus, 2012). Yet environmental legislation was not a priority for the

7 Bush administration and after 7 years of inaction, anything Bush proposed would have been seen as too little too late by the time the Supreme Court case ended. Rose Garden Speech In April 2008 Bush gave a speech in the Rose Garden about climate change and what he believes is the best way to address the environmental problems the world is facing. In preparation for a meeting in September with leaders of nations with the worlds largest economies, Bush highlighted where the United Statess GHG emissions should be trending and where he sees the future of regulation. He directly mentions the Clean Air Act and the inadequacies facing regulation: Some courts are taking laws written more than 30 years ago to primarily address local and regional environmental effects and applying them to global climate change. The Clean Air Act [was] never meant to regulate global climate. For example, under a Supreme Court decision last year, the Clean Air Act could be applied to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles. This would automatically trigger regulation under the Clean Air Act of greenhouse gases all across our economy leading to what Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman John Dingell last week called, a glorious mess (Revkin 2008). He argues that: If these laws are stretched beyond their original intent, they could override the programs Congress just adopted, and force the government to regulate more than just power plant emissions. They could also force the government to regulate smaller users and producers of energy from schools and stores to hospitals and

8 apartment buildings. This would make the federal government act like a local planning and zoning board, have crippling effects on our entire economy (Revkin 2008). Instead Bush argues that the correct way to address environmental problems is to set realistic goals for reducing emissions consistent with advances in technology and to adopt policies that spur investment in the new technologies needed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions without placing unreasonable burdens on American[s] and to ensure that all major economies are bound to take action for a fair and effective international climate agreement. Bush added that every major nation needs to slow, stop, and eventually reverse the growth of greenhouse gas emissions, and imagines that the United States should set a goal to stop the growth of greenhouse gas emissions by 2025 and begin a reverse thereafter (Revkin 2008). During his presidency, Bush did invest in technologies to address GHG emissions and means to capture and store carbon emissions underground or in the sea as opposed to releasing them in the air, however, many of these technologies are still in the development state and it will be 20+ years before they can be utilized (Lieberman 2008). Critics to his speech argue that Bush did not offer any specifics as to how to reach his emission goal by 2025, and some even claimed the speech was irrelevant (Stolberg 2008). Bush touted technologies such as clean-coal energy, wind power, and farm-grown fuels like ethanol, and he suggested that the free market and incentives for companies to invest rather than mandates or new taxes would lead to GHG reduction (Stolberg 2008). Experts say that a mandatory cap is needed in order to reach Bushs goal of flattening and reducing emissions by 2025, and if the United States only sets a goal of maintaining instead reducing GHG emissions, other countries are not likely to reduce emissions either (Revkin 2008). The United States

9 should be leading in trying to reduce emissions instead of continually settling for maintaining levels. Conclusion Climate change is directly caused by human actions, and within the United States, carbon dioxide emissions are by far the largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. As practices change and emissions decrease in the United States, developing countries such as China, India, and Brazil continue to produce millions of tons of greenhouse gases with little legislation. The United States should be leading innovative technologies to assist in solving environmental problems, yet the United States has been lagging behind compared to many developed countries. The Bush Administration passed little legislation, and instead hoped that the market would support the growth of these technologies. Yet, without any support from the government, it is difficult for citizens to afford green technologies even if they were available, and overall very few people opted for green technologies. Two policies were suggested during the Bush Administration, and one was successful, however, it focuses on methane emissions, which are a large contributor in global warming, but carbon dioxide is the largest portion of emission and requires stricter regulation. The Clean Air Act is ill equipped to address the environmental problems associated with greenhouse gas emissions due to the current system of setting and maintaining limits that are impractical for greenhouse gases. New legislation needs to be created encouraging a cap and trade system similar to Bushs Clear Skies Initiative, but instead of nitrous oxide, carbon dioxide is the main greenhouse gas companies are encouraged to trade credits for. Another option is to create a carbon tax where companies are charged for the more carbon dioxide emissions they produce. This incentivizes companies to limit their emissions in order to pay a smaller tax.

10 The Obama administration has done little in response to the environment, which has been a disappointment to scientists and environmentalists. Between the Affordable Care Act and the financial crisis, little has been accomplished in Congress, and the environment has definitely been at the bottom of priorities. However, Obama has been investing in greener and alternative fuel options, and more and more people are realizing that humans cause climate change. Change has been slow, but reductions in greenhouse gases across the world need to be enacted in order to slow or halt the changes to the environment.

11 Works Cited "Carbon Dioxide Emissions." EPA. Environmental Protection Agency, n.d. Web. 15 Nov. 2013. "Global Methane Initiative." EPA. Environmental Protection Agency, n.d. Web. 15 Nov. 2013. Lieberman, John. "The EPA's Prudent Response to Massachusetts v. EPA." The Heritage Foundation. N.p., 28 03 2008. Web. 4 Dec 2013. MASSACHUSETTS v. EPA No. 05-1120 U.S. Supreme Court of the US. 2007. Cornell University Law School. Web. 31 October 2013. Nordhaus, Robert R. "MODERNIZING THE CLEAN AIR ACT: IS THERE LIFE AFTER 40?" Energy Law Journal 33.2 (2012): 365-403. ProQuest. Web. 1 Nov. 2013. Oren, Craig N. "Is the Clean Air Act at a crossroads?" Environmental Law Fall 2010: 1231+. LegalTrac. Web. 1 Nov. 2013. Reed, Alan B. Bush Administration, George W. Encyclopedia of Global Warming & Climate Change, Second Edition (May 31, 2012): 167-170. Web. 1 Nov. 2013. Revkin, Andrew. "The [Annotated] Climate Speech." New York Times 17 04 2008, n. pag. Web. 4 Dec. 2013. Samuelsohn, Darren, and Robin Bravender. "EPA Releases Bush-Era Endangerment Document." New York Times 13 10 2009, n. pag. Web. 4 Dec. 2013. Stolberg, Sheryl. " Bush Sets Greenhouse Gas Emissions Goal ." New York Times 17 04 2008, n. pag. Web. 4 Dec. 2013.