Such failures pale in comparison to the politicization of climate change during the successor administration of President George W. Bush. Over his two terms, borrowing in large part from the tobacco industry playbook, President Bush has overseen a White House that first vociferously discounted the science of climate change, and then turned to outright suppression of its evidence. Thus, while President Bush has developed a combination of modest bilateral and regional initiatives such as the Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate, International Partnership for a Hydrogen Economy, and the Carbon Sequestration Leadership Forum, the lasting legacy of President Bush in terms of climate change will be a decidedly negative one.
He has ignored scientific consensus on climate change and its human-induced links in the form of the widely regarded assessments by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). He has withdrawn the United States from Kyoto, citing the familiar refrain on lack of participation by China. And most egregious of all, he has obstructed and even deleted the dissemination of information from his own Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and other governmental scientists. The most publicized of these was reported by the New York Times in its coverage of e-mails obtained by Greenpeace under the Freedom of Information Act, which depict the White House Council on Environmental Quality chief of staff Phil Cooney, a former oil industry lobbyist, as actually doctoring science by editing climate scientist reports to render them innocuous in 2002.
Despite these actions by the Bush Administration, separation of powers in the United States has allowed both the legislative and judicial branches to weigh in regarding climate change. In April 2007, for example, the U.S. Supreme Court, in the landmark 5-4 decision of Massachusetts et al. v. EPA et al., sided with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in its suit of an EPA that had heretofore ignored whether greenhouse gas emissions cause or contribute to climate change. The Court declared Massachusetts, as well as the supporting states of Connecticut, Illinois, Maine, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, and California, had every right to request the EPA to regulate greenhouse gases.
Six months prior, the sweeping midterm elections of November 2006 saw a redistribution of party lines in the U.S. Congress, with Democrats gaining advantages in both the House and Senate (with the two Senate independents in Vermont and Connecticut, respectively, agreeing to caucus with the Democrats) for the first time since 1994. While that election was primarily driven by sentiment over the war in Iraq (and climate change debate in Congress is by no means divided solely along partisan lines, with western coal interests and mid-western automobile labor interests often influencing Democrats more than Republicans), the tangible results within congressional committees were nearly immediate, as at least five different greenhouse cap and trade bills began circulating in Congress when it returned to session in January 2007.
Most notably, the newly minted chairwoman of the Senate's Environment and Public Works Committee, Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) replaced James Inhofe (R-OK), who held a grand total of five hearings on climate change in four years as head of that committee, including science-fiction writer Michael Crichton as his star witness. Senator Inhofe was also well known for labeling global warming as the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people. Senator Boxer promptly held five hearings on climate change in her first three months at the helm and proposed what will likely become the centerpiece of a renewed national debate with Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT). This bill, formerly known as S-309 but more popularly referred to as the Global Warming Pollu tion Reduction Act, requires emissions reductions in the United States to the 1990 level by 2020, 27 percent below 1990 by 2030, 53 percent below 1990 by 2040, and 80 percent below 1990 by 2050.
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