Bush's New (Old) Tack on Climate Change: Watch Me Pretend to Care

george w. bush

Could it be? Could the Bush administration, as the Associated Press and many other news outlets have now reported, really be turning over a new leaf and contemplating taking up "new climate change proposals" to avoid a coming "train wreck" of new regulations? Here's how the AP reported on a news conference held by White House press secretary Dana Perino in which the tentative discussions were addressed:

"At the meeting, White House officials outlined a range of options that were being considered, from simply proposing a set of "principles" to proposing to cap greenhouse gas emissions from power plants, according to two individuals familiar with the discussions.

Perino disputed that description, saying the White House officials, rather than presenting the lawmakers with options, "went up to discuss with members the range of complications and concerns" raised by the possibility of having to regulate greenhouse gases under existing laws."

A. Siegel has a smart line-by-line analysis of Perino's usual vague comments. Based on these statements and the article, then, it's fairly clear that the Bush administration's new tack isn't motivated so much by a new-found appreciation of the risks posed by climate change as by serious concern for a new wave of regulations coming its way. More likely than not, the administration will try coming up with some stopgap measure -- it's still not too hot about a cap and trade proposal -- in order to avoid taking measurable action.

Think Progress' new side project, Wonk Room, also featured a good rebuttal of Perino's claims, calling Bush's proposed new initiatives -- mostly voluntary reduction measures and a set of "principles" -- "trial balloons" to test out new right-wing talking points. The Wall Street Journal described one of the (weak) proposals tossed around during the administration's meetings thusly:

"One option administration officials have discussed, according to individuals close to the administration, is a statement endorsing caps on carbon-dioxide emissions on the condition that such caps wouldn't take effect until technology capable of capturing and storing carbon-dioxide emissions at large power plants is proven commercially viable."

Note that last part: commercially viable. If that's the case, then we may yet have to wait a while.

In all likelihood, we probably won't ever see any meaningful legislation from this administration, they noted. Lest we forget, Joe Romm adds, we've seen this type of "climate change U-turn" before; wonder how that panned out...

Let's not kid ourselves: As many foreign governments have made clear, they don't plan on drafting a successor to Kyoto until the current White House "tenants" depart. All three presidential candidates have expressed support for a cap and trade bill, and both Democrats have pledged to significantly reduce emissions -- by 80% by 2050 (McCain's environmental agenda is a bit murkier and much less aggressive).

As Romm succinctly put it: "Fool me 3 times or more, shame on the media."

Via ::Wonk Room: As Earth Day Nears, White House Pretends To Take Action On Climate (blog), ::Climate Progress: Fool me 3 times or more, shame on the media

See also: ::What Role Will EPA Play In Climate Action? GOP Strategy Announced, ::Bush to Phase Out Environment by 2009