White House Prods Allies to Oppose Limits on Greenhouse Gases

By Juliet Eilperin
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, November 26, 2008

As the Bush administration prepares to issue its ruling on whether to limit greenhouse gases, it's sending out a message to some of its allies: Tell us how much you don't want us to regulate emissions linked to global warming.

Last week, the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs sent an e-mail to mayors reminding them that time was running out if they wanted to comment on the proposal the administration issued in July, which laid out how the government might curb greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act. A 2007 Supreme Court decision required the Environmental Protection Agency to issue such a ruling, but the White House made it clear in its e-mail that it does not think that is a good idea.

"At the time, President Bush warned that this was the wrong way to regulate emissions. [House Energy and Commerce Committee] Chairman John D. Dingell called it 'a glorious mess,' " Jeremy J. Broggi, the office's associate director, wrote in the e-mail, obtained by The Washington Post. "And many of you contacted us to let us know how harmful this rule would be to the economies of the cities and counties you serve."

The e-mail notes in bold, underlined text that the comment period for the rulemaking "closes on November 28" and provides a link to a U.S. Chamber of Commerce blog post that warns that a federal cap on greenhouse gases "will operate as a de facto moratorium on major construction and infrastructure projects."

White House spokesman Tony Fratto said the White House sent the missive to "a lot of mayors" because many of them had warned the administration that a mandatory limit on carbon dioxide would hurt their constituents.

"What this e-mail is doing is reminding them that they said this rule would be bad for them, there's a deadline for the public comment period and they should get their comments in," Fratto said. "It's not enough to call us; they need to get their public comments in."

But S. William Becker, executive director for the National Association of Clean Air Agencies, questioned why the administration would actively marshal support for blocking federal action on climate change.

"It appears there is no bottom to the administration's pit of disdain for regulating greenhouse gases," Becker said. "On the eve of the comment deadline on one of the most important environmental issues of our time, the White House is resorting to scare tactics, including rhetoric from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, to incite opposition among elected county and city officials."

William L. Kovacs, the chamber's vice president for environment, technology and regulatory affairs, said that his office had nothing to do with the White House's e-mail -- "I wish we had that kind of influence" -- and that his group had generated close to 10,000 negative comments on the proposal.

Advocates of regulating greenhouse gas emissions got one piece of good news Tuesday: A federal judge in Rhode Island ruled that General Motors, Chrysler and the Association of International Automobile Manufacturers cannot challenge that state's adoption of California's rule limiting automobile tailpipe emissions to combat global warming.

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