Global Warming Disputes Heat Up Congress
Thursday, July 20, 2006; 7:59 PM
WASHINGTON -- As a heat wave baked the capital, global warming dominated a number of conversations in and around the government Thursday.
_The House Government Reform Committee began an inquiry into allegations that White House officials edited reports on global warming to play down the threat it poses.
_Retiring Sen. Jim Jeffords, I-Vt., announced his last hurrah, a bill to reverse the U.S. growth in heat-trapping "greenhouse" gases from burning coal and transportation fuels. He spoke at an indoor rally. The air conditioning was on.
_The U.S. Public Interest Research Group, an advocacy group, predicted that energy companies' plans to build more than 150 new coal-fired power plants will increase U.S. carbon dioxide emissions by 25 percent above 2004 levels.
The House committee chairman, Rep. Tom Davis, R-Va., and the committee's top Democrat, Rep. Henry Waxman of California, said they will request data from the White House and hold hearings into whether the White House Council on Environmental Quality intentionally diluted scientific information on the threat of global warming.
Democrats and Republicans took turns criticizing each other, with President Bush's senior environmental adviser fending off attacks on the administration's go-slow approach.
"The Bush administration has very little credibility on this issue," Waxman said. Last month, he proposed phased-in cuts in U.S. greenhouse gases over the next four decades.
James Connaughton, chairman of the White House environmental council, kept cool in his role as lightning rod. He said Bush's efforts to slow the growth rate in carbon dioxide and cut methane emissions globally go "far beyond what's been done before."
"Step one is to slow the growth," Connaughton said.
With temperatures hovering around 100 in parts of the nation, global warming has generated heat at the box-office with movies such as Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth."
Scientists told the House committee that humans are causing most of the earth's warming and the planet is 8 degrees to 10 degrees hotter than it was thousands of years ago. Some voiced concern with the pace of U.S. efforts.
"The fact that we don't have a plan is really disturbing," said Judith Curry, head of Georgia Institute of Technology's School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences.