White House Greenwash

Bill Scher

To “greenwash” is to spin something as good for the environment, when it really amounts to direct harm or damaging inaction.

Like Monday, when President Bush addressed the nation in the Rose Garden, and called for Congress to pass his “20 in 10″ plan, cutting our gas usage 20 percent in 10 years.

As David Roberts noted in January after Bush first announced this plan, “the vaunted 20 percent is a reduction in projected gas use, not current gas use. So it’s slower growth, not really a ‘reduction’ at all.”

Classic greenwash. More happy rhetoric, masking more inaction, keeping us energy dependent, doing nothing about global warming.

When the Supreme Court last month told the Bush administration to follow the law and treat greenhouse gases as a pollutant under the Clean Air Act, environmental groups noted that the ruling should end the administration’s efforts to prevent states from adopting their own vehicle emissions standards.

But after today’s White House announcement, Frank O’Donnell at Clear Air Watch sees more stalling:

…the new Bush administration Executive Order regarding greenhouse gas emissions … appears to be an attempt to sideswipe the greenhouse gas standards developed by the state of California and adopted by 11 other states…

…Under the new Bush plan, EPA would have to gain the “concurrence” of other federal agencies such as the Energy and Transportation Departments before moving ahead with any plan to limit greenhouse gas emissions. In addition, the White House Office of Management and Budget and the Council on Environmental Quality would oversee the effort.

In other words, the White House has just wrapped the EPA in a straitjacket of bureaucratic process.

A simple decision on the California request – “yes” would be the simple and correct answer – has just been made a LOT more complicated.

Is this a violation of the Supreme Court ruling? It surely is in spirit. But the White House knows the wheels of justice move slowly, and it’s happy to take advantage and continue stonewalling the states.

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