Whitman urged Bush not to break campaign pledge
WASHINGTON (AP) – Environmental Protection Agency chief Christie Whitman told President Bush a week before he broke a campaign promise to reduce carbon dioxide emissions that such a move would undermine this country’s world reputation, The Washington Post said.
The warning came in a March 6 memo in which Whitman wrote, ”I would strongly recommend that you continue to recognize global warming is a real and serious issue,” the newspaper said in Tuesday’s editions.
”Mr. President, this is a credibility issue for the U.S. in the international community,” the memo added. ”It is also an issue that is resonating here at home. We need to appear engaged.”
One week after the memo, Bush announced he would not seek the carbon dioxide reductions. Carbon dioxide is a gas that scientists say is a major factor in the earth’s rising temperatures.
Those who have worked with Whitman on the issue of global warming said she was undermined by the decision.
”I respect Christie enormously, but I think the administration undermined her,” said Sen. John F. Kerry, D-Mass., a leading advocate of the need to address global warming. ”The question is being asked: Does she speak for the administration, and will she be able to enforce environmental laws and seek others where necessary?”
Whitman refused to comment Monday to the Post. Her spokesman said the memo was a confidential correspondence between Whitman and the president, and that she would not be willing to discuss it.
However, interviewed Tuesday on ABC’s ”Good Morning America,” Whitman said she does not believe her credibility has been undermined.
”He said global climate change is an issue in which we need to be engaged internationally,” Whitman said of Bush. ”He is very committed to that decision. … The international community understands that.”
She also defended Bush’s decision to roll back a Clinton administration regulation that would have reduced from 50 parts per billion to 10 parts per billion the amount of arsenic allowed in drinking water. ”The previous administration didn’t take the time to fully understand the impact of this decision in those areas of the country where you have a great deal of naturally occurring arsenic,” Whitman said.
The reduction would not have taken effect until 2006, she said. ”We will have a new standard by 2006 (and) it will certainly be well below 50” parts per billion.
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After a period of dry, warm weather, winter returns this week to Lake Tahoe.