Bush Emissions Plan Gets Cheers, Jeers

By Tonya Vinas Predictably, industry groups praised President Bush's plan for companies to voluntarily reduce greenhouse gas emissions while environmentalists panned it. The administration presented its Climate VISION (Voluntary Innovative Sector Initiatives: Opportunities Now) on Feb. 12. The plan follows an announcement made last year by Bush that he would develop a strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 18% during the next 10 years. At least a dozen industry groups issued statements of support for the Bush plan, including the Aluminum Association (AA) and the American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI). The AA has pledged to continue its Voluntary Aluminum Industrial Partnership (VAIP), which received a Climate Change Protection Award from the Environmental Protection Agency last year for reducing perfluorocarbon (PFC) emission by 45% from U.S. primary aluminum smelters. "The aluminum industry aggressively reduced PFC emissions between 1990 and 2000 and is exploring additional PFC reduction commitments going forward," AA Chairman Brian Sturgell said in a statement. Sturgell is an executive vice president of Alcan Inc., Montreal. Additionally, AA is helping to develop an aluminum industry greenhouse gas inventory reporting protocol, the final draft of which is under review and is scheduled for final approval this spring; and the group said it will work to increase the amount of recycled content in aluminum products. AISI committed to a 10% improvement in energy consumption per ton of steel shipped in support of Bush's goal. Andrew G. Sharkey III, AISI president and CEO, said this would be achieved via restructuring, technological changes, increased recycling and other process improvements. The AISI is, too, working on a greenhouse gas emissions reporting protocol, which Sharkey says will be completed by June 30. Environmental group Sierra Club, however, criticized the voluntary aspect of the plan and said mandatory emissions reductions are needed to truly curb global warming, which some say is linked to industrial emissions. "This irresponsible policy simply provides cover for polluters to spew more heat-trapping pollution into the air," said Sierra Club Executive Director Carl Pope in a press statement. "If you really want your friend to quit smoking, you don't make it easier for him to buy cigarettes."

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