President George W. Bush responded to a Supreme Court environmental ruling by ordering his administration on Monday to find a way to begin regulating harmful vehicle emissions by the end of his presidency.
WASHINGTON -- President George W. Bush responded to a Supreme Court environmental ruling by ordering his administration on Monday to find a way to begin regulating harmful vehicle emissions by the end of his presidency.
In a Rose Garden announcement, Bush said the new rules would "cut gasoline consumption and greenhouse gas emissions from motor vehicles." His executive order directing several agencies to undertake this assignment, and complete it by the end of 2008, also said the agencies must take into account advice from the public, the impact on safety, scientific knowledge, available technology and the cost of the remedy.
Last month, the U.S. Supreme Court rebuked the Bush administration for its inaction on global warming. In a 5-4 decision, it declared that carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases qualify as air pollutants under the Clean Air Act and thus can be regulated by the EPA.
Democrats who took control of Congress last January from Bush's Republican Party have been pressuring the administration to say when it would comply with the high court's ruling and decide whether to regulate carbon dioxide, the leading gas linked to global warming.
"This is a complex legal and technical matter, and it's going to take time to fully resolve," the president said.
The agencies involved include the departments of Transportation, Agriculture and Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency.
The court also said the "laundry list" of reasons the administration has given for declining to decide on regulation are insufficient, and the EPA must regulate carbon dioxide, the leading gas linked to global warming, if its studies find that it endangers public health.
Bush has said previously that he recognizes the serious environmental problems created by such emissions and other so-called greenhouse gases. But he has urged against anything other than a voluntary approach, saying regulations could undercut economic activity.
There were few details immediately available about how the rules might look, but White House press secretary Tony Snow said Monday the president's position has not changed.
"The market-based approach seems to work," Snow said. "The question is: do you try to set up a mandatory system or do you try to set up an innovation-based system. The president prefers innovation."
In his State of the Union address in January, Bush set a goal of reducing gas consumption by 20 percent over 10 years. Under his plan, this would be accomplished by increasing the use of alternative fuels to 35 billion gallons by 2017 and boosting fuel efficiency standards in new vehicles.
The president said the agencies should use this so-called "20-in-10 plan" as a starting point for the new regulations, while saying he still wants Congress to approve the plan legislatively.
"When it comes to energy and the environment, the American people expect common sense and they expect action," Bush said. "We're taking action by taking the first steps toward rules that will make our economy stronger, our environment cleaner and our nation more secure for generations to come."
Source: Associated Press