The EPA head denied California a waiver to regulate tailpipe emissions and used the recently passed CAFE standard as an excuse. President Bush took questions today at a press conference and it looks like he is using the same excuse. Here is a part of his response to the question on the waiver, which you can read in full below the fold:

Q Thank you, Mr. President. Yesterday you joined together with House Speaker Pelosi and Senator Reid to sign the energy legislation and talk about the importance of the bill in curbing greenhouse gases, among other goals. However, your administration then told California that it couldn't implement its own plan to restrict tailpipe emissions. How important is fighting greenhouse gases to you? Why can't the states try to do more? And can you tell me anything about your conversation with Vice President Gore about climate change a few weeks ago?

THE PRESIDENT: Remind me about that here. Let me finish the first part of the question and remind me you asked that.

The question is how to have an effective strategy. Is it more effective to let each state make a decision as to how to proceed in curbing greenhouse gases? Or is it more effective to have a national strategy? Director Johnson made a decision based upon the fact that we passed a piece of legislation that enables us to have a national strategy, which is the -- increasing CAFE standards to 35 miles an hour [
sic] by 2020, and a substantial increase of alternative fuels, 36 billion gallons by 2022.

Basically, what he is saying is this: the energy bill is the last thing greens will get from him for a while.

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[Source: White House]



Q Thank you, Mr. President. Yesterday you joined together with House Speaker Pelosi and Senator Reid to sign the energy legislation and talk about the importance of the bill in curbing greenhouse gases, among other goals. However, your administration then told California that it couldn't implement its own plan to restrict tailpipe emissions. How important is fighting greenhouse gases to you? Why can't the states try to do more? And can you tell me anything about your conversation with Vice President Gore about climate change a few weeks ago?

THE PRESIDENT: Remind me about that here. Let me finish the first part of the question and remind me you asked that.

The question is how to have an effective strategy. Is it more effective to let each state make a decision as to how to proceed in curbing greenhouse gases? Or is it more effective to have a national strategy? Director Johnson made a decision based upon the fact that we passed a piece of legislation that enables us to have a national strategy, which is the -- increasing CAFE standards to 35 miles an hour [sic] by 2020, and a substantial increase of alternative fuels, 36 billion gallons by 2022.

And so the Director, in assessing this law, and assessing what would be more -- more effective for the country, says, we now have a national plan. It's one of the benefits of Congress passing this piece of legislation.

I told Vice President Gore that I take the issue seriously. And we're developing a strategy that will deal with it, and an effective strategy. Yesterday's bill is a part of that strategy. When you replace as much gasoline on a mandatory basis as we're suggesting, it's going to do a lot to improve the greenhouse gases. And by the way, the bill I signed was a little weaker than the one I suggested, but nevertheless was happy to sign it.

And one of the key components, by the way, to be successful on reformulated fuel standards is to spend research and development money on cellulosic ethanol, new ways to manufacture ethanol. We can't rely only on corn in order to meet these standards. And I understand a lot of people in the farm belt are getting concerned -- unless, of course, you're a corn grower. But if you're feeding cattle or feeding hogs, the cost of business has gone up. And that's one of the tradeoffs you have to make. So what I want to assure people out there is that we're spending a lot of taxpayers' money in a way to figure out how to use wood chips or switchgrass in order to make ethanol. But this is a real national plan.

Secondly, in order to be effective on a global basis, countries that emit greenhouse gases need to be at the table. One of the main reasons I was against Kyoto was that China wasn't at the table. I mean, we could do all we wanted to do, but it wouldn't affect greenhouse gases over the long run unless a country like China had agreed to participate in a strategy.

And so we went to the Bali Conference with that in mind, and worked out a compromise that said we're committed to a process that's going to unfold over the next two years, but we've also got a parallel process working to make sure major emitters sit at the table and come together, hopefully, on a goal that we all agree to. And it's a strategy that I laid out at the G8 in Germany; it's a strategy that was explained to everybody there in Bali; and it's a strategy we think will be effective.

And so, absolutely I take the issue seriously. But I want to make sure that we're effective in what we do, and secondly, do not wreck our economy in whatever we do. See, it is hard to develop the technologies necessary to be able to make sure our standard of living remains strong and deal with greenhouse gases if you're broke. If you don't have any money, it is really hard to develop new technologies. And so we need to be prosperous for a lot of reasons, primarily so our citizens can have a good life; but also so that we're wealthy enough to make the investments necessary to deal with greenhouse gases.

Finally, if you're truly serious about dealing with greenhouse gases, then it seems like to me you ought to be a strong supporter of nuclear power. Nuclear power enables us to generate electricity without emitting one unit of greenhouse gases. I am -- to me, I am amazed that our country isn't more robust in supporting the advent of nuclear power. I certainly am, and applaud those efforts by members of the Congress to provide incentives for the construction of new plants.

But if you're somebody that says greenhouse gases are of vital national interest, then you ought to be saying I'm for the development of nuclear power plants. It is by far the best solution to making sure we have economic growth and at the same time be good stewards of the environment.

So when you couple increasing CAFE standards with using alternative fuels, which deals with the automobile area, as well as a good strategy on electricity, then all of a sudden you begin to see a strategy unfold. And by the way, the final thing is, is that we do have 250 years of coal. And I believe we can develop technologies that will enable us to use that coal in an environmentally friendly way.

So what I'm suggesting to you is, is that we do have a strategy. Our strategy is to bring others to the table. Our strategy is to develop our own plan to meet the national goals -- the international goals that I hope we'll be able to set later on this summer. And you've just heard some of the components of it.


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