SILVER SPRING, MD — Speaking at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, parent of the National Weather Service, President George W. Bush announced two initiatives to cut power plant emissions and greenhouse gases: the Clear Skies Act and a new global climate change plan.

“I'm announcing 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,” said Bush.

The president’s approach to these issues links economic development with environmental change. He said that it is “based on this common-sense idea: that economic growth is key to environmental progress, because it is growth that provides the resources for investment in clean technologies.”

The proposed Clear Skies legislation sets new standards to significantly reduce three forms of pollution from power plants — cutting emissions of sulfur dioxide by 73%, nitrogen oxide by 67%, and mercury by 69%. The cuts are to be completed in two phases, with one emissions cap in 2010 and the other in 2018.

The legislation, however, does not address carbon dioxide, which is said to be a major contributor to global warming.

The act will achieve “air quality goals through a market-based cap-and-trade approach that rewards innovation, reduces cost, and guarantees results. Instead of the government telling utilities where and how to cut pollution, we will tell them when and how much to cut. We will give them a firm deadline and let them find the most innovative ways to meet it,” Bush said.

“Global climate change presents a different set of challenges and requires a different strategy,” stated the president. “My administration is committed to cutting our nation's greenhouse gas intensity — how much we emit per unit of economic activity — by 18 percent over the next 10 years. This will set America on a path to slow the growth of our greenhouse gas emissions and, as science justifies, to stop and then reverse the growth of emissions.”

This program will be voluntary for American businesses. “Already, agreements with the semiconductor and aluminum industries and others have dramatically cut emissions of some of the most potent greenhouse gases. We will build on these successes with new agreements and greater reductions.”

Bush noted, “By giving companies incentives to cut emissions, by diversifying our energy supply to include cleaner fuels, by increasing conservation, by increasing research and development and tax incentives for energy efficiency and clean technologies, and by increasing carbon storage, I am absolutely confident that America will reach the goal that I have set.

“Addressing global climate change will require a sustained effort over many generations. My approach recognizes that economic growth is the solution, not the problem.”

Publication date: 02/11/2002