President Bush Thursday unveiled his plan for reducing air pollution, calling for voluntary reductions in gases that some scientists say cause global warming. Mr. Bush says his plan is better than the Kyoto Protocol which he rejected last year because he said it would cost too money much for U.S. business.
The president's plan uses more than $4-billion worth of corporate tax breaks and other benefits to cut power plant emissions of nitrogen oxide, sulfur dioxide, and mercury by 70 percent over the next eight years. It also aims to cut U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by 18 percent.
Unlike the Kyoto Protocol, which calls for 40 industrialized nations to reverse carbon dioxide emissions, the president's plan relies on new technologies and economic incentives to slow the growth of greenhouse gases without passing-on the cost to American business.
"I'm confident that the environmental path that I announce will benefit the entire world," he said. "This new approach is based on this common sense idea that economic growth is key to environmental progress because it is growth that provides the resources for investments in clean technologies."
President Bush says his plan harnesses the power of market forces and the creativity of private sector entrepreneurs to reach compliance levels comparable to the Kyoto accord. The president was criticized by the European Union and other countries last year when he rejected that protocol because of its cost to American business.
Offering his alternative Thursday, Mr. Bush said the Kyoto Protocol would have cost the U.S. economy more than $400-billion and nearly five million jobs. "As president of the United States, charged with safeguarding the welfare of the American people and American workers, I will not commit our nation to an unsound international treaty that will throw millions of citizens out of work," he said.
The president says he recognizes America's international responsibilities and will actively help developing nations grow along what he called "a more efficient, more environmentally-responsible path."
He said, "The United States wants to foster economic growth in the developing world, including the world's poorest nations. We want to help them realize their potential and bring the benefits of growth to their peoples including better health and better schools and a cleaner environment."
Mr. Bush wants Congress to spend $220 million to help developing countries better measure and reduce greenhouse emissions by investing in cleaner and renewable energy. He says the Kyoto plan is "unfair" to developing nations because it "condemns" them to slow growth or no growth by insisting that they meet "impractical and unrealistic greenhouse gas targets."
"The United States will not interfere with the plans of any nation that chooses to ratify the Kyoto Protocol. But I intend to work with nations, especially the poorer and developing nations, to show the world that there is a better approach, that we can build our future prosperity along a cleaner and better path," he said.
The president is offering tax incentives for farmers to plant carbon-dioxide-absorbing trees, for industry to capture methane from landfills, and for consumers to buy alternative energy cars and solar water heaters.
Environmentalists say the president's plan does not go far enough. Worldwatch President Chris Flavin welcomed more tax incentives for alternative energy but said planned reductions in greenhouse gas growth would still leave the United States producing at least 35 percent more greenhouse gasses in 2010 than is permitted under the Kyoto Protocol.