WASHINGTON - The Bush administration has decided not to take any new steps to regulate greenhouse gas emissions before the president leaves office, despite pressure from the Supreme Court and broad accord among senior federal officials that new regulation is appropriate now.
The Environmental Protection Agency plans to announce today that it will seek months of further public comment on the threat posed by global warming to human health and welfare - a matter federal climate specialists and international scientists have said should be urgently addressed.
The Supreme Court, in a decision 15 months ago that startled the government, ordered the EPA to decide whether human health and welfare are being harmed by greenhouse gas pollution from cars, power plants, and other sources, or to provide a good explanation for not doing so. But the administration has opted to postpone action instead, according to interviews and documents obtained by The
The decision to solicit further comment overrides the EPA's written recommendation from December. Officials said a few senior White House officials were unwilling to allow the EPA to state officially that global warming harms human welfare. Doing so would legally trigger sweeping regulatory requirements under the 45-year-old Clean Air Act and would cost utilities, automakers, and others billions of dollars while also bringing economic benefits, EPA's analyses found.
"They argued that this increase in regulation should be on the next president's record," not Bush's, said a participant in the interagency debate, referring principally to officials in the office of Vice President Dick Cheney, on the White House Council on Environmental Quality, on the National Economic Council, and in the Office of Management and Budget.