Bush, Edwards, Activists Focus on Global Warming
WASHINGTON -- Environmentalists rallied on Capitol Hill, President Bush pushed fuel economy and White House hopeful John Edwards unveiled a new energy plan Tuesday, focusing on global warming a day before Al Gore was to testify to Congress on the hot political topic.
In front of a giant blue-and-green globe and a banner reading "Love the Planet, Save the Planet," about 1,000 demonstrators gathered to draw attention to climate change and to urge U.S. legislation to curb and reverse it.
Rep. Ed Markey, a Massachusetts Democrat who chairs a new House panel on energy independence and global warming, took aim at the Bush administration.
"We cannot allow the Republican White House to use the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge as a gas station," Markey told the crowd, referring to the area in Alaska believed to contain rich reserves of petroleum.
Markey called for greater fuel efficiency and a system to cap carbon emissions that contribute to global warming.
Meanwhile, Bush toured struggling auto plants in Kansas and Missouri and praised the hybrid vehicles they produced while promoting an energy plan aimed at cutting gasoline use by 20 percent over the next 10 years, mainly through the use of hybrids and alternative fuels.
Bush also mentioned coal as an energy option, though he noted that coal "doesn't burn cleanly." A large slice of U.S. carbon dioxide emissions come from coal-fired power plants, but Bush said research now underway could change that.
"I believe that within a relatively quick period of time, we will have the ability to use coal to fire our electricity without emitting greenhouse gases or pollutants," he said.
"It makes sense to spend that kind of money on developing ways that we can be good stewards of the environment and use a plentiful supply of coal," said Bush.
Also visiting the American heartland was presidential candidate Edwards, a former Democratic U.S. senator and 2004 vice presidential nominee, who offered his plan for energy independence and curbing climate change.
"Our generation must be the one that says, 'we must halt global warming,"' Edwards said in Iowa, one of the early testing grounds of the 2008 White House race. " ... It won't be easy, but it is time to ask the American people to be patriotic about something other than war."
Gore, a Democrat who lost to Bush in the 2000 presidential race, was headed for Capitol Hill Wednesday to testify about global warming before a pair of House subcommittees, and the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works.
Since leaving government, Gore has been active in environmental causes and starred in the Academy Award-winning documentary about climate change, "An Inconvenient Truth." He has joked about whether he would run for president again but has not categorically ruled it out.