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RNP Press Release
May 3, 2001

Northwest Environmentalists Decry Bush's CO2 Policies

In response to the Bush Administration's recent decisions to withdraw from the Kyoto treaty and forestall policies regulating carbon dioxide emissions, twenty-seven environmental groups in the Northwest sent a letter to President Bush. The text of the letter follows.

President George W. Bush
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave. NW
Washington DC 20500
Dear President Bush:
We are writing to convey our strongest possible objection to your recent decisions to forestall regulation of carbon dioxide and to withdraw from the international treaty to reduce greenhouse gases. As the leading contributor to the world’s most pressing environmental and economic challenge, the United States must exert path-breaking leadership on this issue. And we must do so right now.
The impacts of global climate change are painfully local. In the Pacific Northwest, global warming strikes directly at the region’s lifeblood: the water cycle. Snowpack is our primary means of water storage for hydropower, irrigation, drinking water, and salmon migration. Scientists expect significant decline in snowpack due to global warming. Competition for summer water supplies is already fierce in the Northwest. Cut the snowpack in half, as scientists expect global warming to do, and you’ve got a region at war.
This year’s record low snowpack is a taste of what’s to come. We are bracing for severe disruptions of water supply, hydropower, and salmon migration. As global warming accelerates, these extremely costly dislocations will become the norm.
Water cycle disruptions won’t be the only effect of global warming on the Pacific Northwest. A partial list of expected regional impacts includes:
-Declining forest health and increased frequency of forest pest outbreaks and fires;
-Increased flooding in winter and spring, due to heavy rainfall and warmer temperatures, which prevent precipitation from accumulating as snow;
-Disruption of agriculture due to summer drought;
-Declining air quality and increased public health threats in our cities;
-Destruction of habitat for salmon and resident fish;
-Shoreline erosion and inundation due to higher sea levels.
Mr. President, we are confident that if a hostile foreign nation proposed to do these things to our region, you would respond decisively. This attack is of our own making, but it requires no less determination and leadership on your part.
Some alarmists suggest that responding to global warming will require unacceptable economic hardships. On the contrary, we believe that climate solutions will help our nation prosper. We say this as a region with a long track record of success in energy efficiency, developing renewable energy and regulating CO2.
Over the last two decades, we have saved enough power to supply the entire needs of Seattle, at a fraction of the cost of conventional power supplies. New renewable energy is being delivered in the Northwest (as it is in Texas) at prices competitive with fossil fuels. Oregon has mandatory emission limits for CO2 in new power plants that allow cost effective offsets and competitively priced power.
Clean vehicle technology can revolutionize the auto industry, and reducing traffic by providing alternative transportation will dramatically improve the region’s livability as it reduces greenhouse gases.
In short, the things we must do to reduce greenhouse pollution are the very same things we need to do to achieve our most important public policy goals: Improving mobility; achieving energy independence; reducing exposure to volatile energy prices and supplies; improving the efficiency and productivity of our businesses; cleaning the air; protecting our forests; promoting sustainable economic development; and planning for smart growth.
We are particularly disturbed by your suggestion that environmental protection is incompatible with our economic goals. Prosperity and environmental protection are not competing priorities. Indeed, in our region, economic success is a direct function of our quality of life. If we pit environmental objectives against economic aspirations, we are left with only painful trade-offs and unending battles between competing philosophies.
We have been forging ahead in this region to develop simple, cost effective solutions. Your actions, however, undermine our efforts. We will do everything in our power to be part of the solution to global warming, but the ball is to a large extent in your hands. So it is with great urgency that we ask you to pick it up and exercise leadership in climate protection.
Bill Begbee
Clean Energy Forum
Betty Beverly
Montana Senior Citizens Assoc.
Jeff Bissonnette
Fair & Clean Energy Coalition
Sheryl Carter
Natural Resources Defense Council
Tim Coleman
Kettle Range Conservation Group
Darcy Davis
American Lands Coalition
Dave Finet
The Opportunity Council, WA
Pat Ford
Save Our Wild Salmon Coalition
Eban Goodstein
Greenhouse Network
Oregon Environmental Council
Chris Hagerbaumer
Paul Horton
Climate Solutions
Bob Jenks
Citizens Utility Board, Oregon
Jim Jensen
Montana Environmental Information Center
Rick Johnson
Idaho Conservation League
Margaret MacDonald
Montana Assoc. of Churches
Regna Merritt
Oregon Natural Resources Council
Sue Minahan, Donna Ewing
League of Women Voters, WA
Mike Nelson
Solar Washington
Sara Patton
NW Energy Coalition
Robert Pregulman
Stan Price
NW Energy Efficiency Council
Heather Rhoads-Weaver
Northwest SEED
Eugene Rosolie
NW Environmental Advocates
Bill Sedivy
Idaho Rivers United
Tom Starrs
Kelso Starrs & Assoc.
Lynne Stone
Boulder-White Clouds Council
Peter West
Renewable Northwest
cc: Northwest Congressional delegation
# # #
For more information contact:
Rachel Shimshak, Director
Renewable Northwest Project
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