Jeb or George: Who Is the 'Smart Bush' on Climate Change?
Jeb Bush has been widely touted as "the smart one" of the Bush brothers—level-headed, competent and clear-minded, compared to his brother, former President George Bush, who was known for his confusing statements and often fuzzy logic. He's also been presented as a paragon of sanity compared to many of his fellow Republicans.
But Jeb's forays on the "campaign" trail—he hasn't formally announced apparently to skirt campaign fundraising rules but he slipped last week and said "I'm running for President in 2016"—have been a bumbling, stumbling mess. His multiple-choice answers on whether the U.S. should have gotten involved in Iraq have been widely publicized. But his statements on climate change are just as evasive, bizarre and misleading.
At a campaign event in New Hampshire this week, Bush said, "Look, first of all, the climate is changing. I don’t think the science is clear what percentage is man-made and what percentage is natural. It’s convoluted. And for the people to say the science is decided on, this is just really arrogant, to be honest with you. It's this intellectual arrogance that now you can’t even have a conversation about it. The climate is changing, and we need to adapt to that reality."
The assertion that "the climate is always changing" is one commonly used by climate deniers to distract from the issue of how human activity contributes to that. But it's really not "convoluted." It's established that 97 percent of climate scientists agree after many, many years of "conversation" that human activity is driving climate change. The real "intellectual arrogance" is to pretend this is still a topic of debate.
While he's occasionally tried to depict himself as the reasonable candidate, saying we need to work with other countries to reduce carbon emissions, his latest statement is in line with what he's said in the past. In a 2011 interview with Fox Business, he said, "I think global warming may be real. It is not unanimous among scientists that it is disproportionately manmade. What I get a little tired of on the left is this idea that somehow science has decided all this so you can’t have a view.”
The administration of Jeb's brother was not always forward-looking on climate and energy policies; the Bushes, after all, made a fortune in oil. President Bush pulled out of the Kyoko Protocol, saying it was "unrealistic" and "flawed," and would impede economic growth, and setting back the worldwide attempt to address climate change. But in general, he acknowledged that there was a real problem, with statements such as "It's now recognized that the surface of the earth is warmer, and that an increase in greenhouse gases caused by humans is contributing to the problem."
He was asked about climate change in a 2000 debate with his Democratic opponent Al Gore. He said, "I think it's an issue that we need to take very seriously," and called for limits on carbon emissions on power plants—something the Obama administration has done with its Clean Power Plan, widely opposed by Republicans.
Photo credit: Shutterstock
In a speech dedicated to climate change in April 2008, his final year in office, Bush sounded like a climate hawk, saying, "I have put our nation on a path to slow, stop and eventually reverse the growth of our greenhouse gas emissions. In 2002, I announced our first step: to reduce America's greenhouse gas intensity by 18 percent through 2012. I'm pleased to say that we remain on track to meet this goal even as our economy has grown 17 percent."
Despite his earlier dismissal of the Kyoko Protocol, he claimed, "The U.S. has launched—and the G8 has embraced—a new process that brings together the countries responsible for most of the world's emissions. We're working toward a climate agreement that includes the meaningful participation of every major economy—and gives none a free ride."
Then he said, "Today, I'm announcing a new national goal: to stop the growth of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by 2025."
He announced new fuel economy legislation, new efficiency objectives for lighting and appliances, working with states to achieve their renewable power goals and working with other countries to cut their emissions—a laundry list of things environmentalists could cheer.
He boasted, "Our incentives for power production from wind and solar energy have helped to more than quadruple its use. We have worked with Congress to make available more than $40 billion in loan guarantees to support investments that will avoid, reduce, or sequester greenhouse gas emissions or air pollutants. And our farmers can now compete for substantial new conservation incentives to restore land and forests in ways that help cut greenhouse gases."
"Taken together, these landmark actions will prevent billions of metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions from entering the atmosphere," he said. "To reach our 2025 goal, we'll need to more rapidly slow the growth of power sector greenhouse gas emissions so they peak within 10 to 15 years, and decline thereafter. By doing so, we'll reduce emission levels in the power sector well below where they were projected to be when we first announced our climate strategy in 2002."
While he also touted "clean coal" and warned against measures that increased taxes or put new regulations and costs on businesses, his acceptance of the need to cut greenhouse gas emissions to address climate change is striking. At no point in the lengthy speech did he imply that the science of climate change was debatable—only that policies need to address it.
So who is really the "smart Bush" when it comes to climate?
YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE
By Simon Montlake
For more than a decade, Susan Jane Brown has been battling to stop a natural gas pipeline and export terminal from being built in the backcountry of Oregon. As an attorney at the nonprofit Western Environmental Law Center, she has repeatedly argued that the project's environmental, social, and health costs are too high.
All that was before this month's deadly wildfires in Oregon shrouded the skies above her home office in Portland. "It puts a fine point on it. These fossil fuel projects are contributing to global climate change," she says.
Moderates Feeling the Heat<p>If elected, Mr. Biden has vowed to stop new drilling for oil and gas on federal land and in federal waters and to rejoin the 2015 Paris climate accord that President Donald Trump gave notice of quitting. He would reinstate Obama-era regulations of greenhouse gas emissions, including methane, the largest component of natural gas.</p><p>The Biden climate platform also states that all federal infrastructure investments and federal permits would need to be assessed for their climate impacts. Analysts say such a test could impede future LNG plants and pipelines, though not those that already have federal approval. </p><p>Climate change activists who pushed for that language say much depends on who would have oversight of federal agencies that regulate the industry. Some are wary of Biden's reliance on advice from Obama-era officials, including former Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, who is now on the board of Southern Company, a utility, and a former Obama environmental aide, Heather Zichal, who has served on the board of Cheniere Energy, an LNG exporter. </p>
The Push for U.S. Fuel Exports<p>As vice president, Biden was part of an administration that pushed hard for global climate action while also promoting U.S. oil and gas exports to its allies and trading partners. As fracking boomed, Obama ended a 40-year ban on crude oil exports. In Europe, LNG was touted both as an alternative to coal and as strategic competition with Russian pipelines.</p><p>That much, at least, continued with President Trump. Under Energy Secretary Rick Perry, the agency referred to liquified U.S. hydrocarbons as "<a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/29/us/freedom-gas-energy-department.html" target="_blank">freedom gas</a>."</p><p>Mr. Trump has also championed the interests of coal, oil, and gas while denigrating the findings of government climate scientists. He rejected the Paris accord as unfair to the U.S. and detrimental to its economy, but has offered no alternative path to emissions cuts. </p><p>Still, Trump's foreign policy has not always served the LNG industry: Tariffs on foreign steel drove up pipeline costs, and a trade war with China stayed the hand of Chinese LNG importers wary of reliance on U.S. suppliers. </p><p>Even his regulatory rollbacks could be a double-edged sword. By relaxing curbs last month on methane leaks, the U.S. has ceded ground to European regulators who are drafting emissions standards that LNG producers are watching closely. "That's a precursor of fights that will be fought in all the rest of the developed world," says Mr. Hutchison. </p><p>Indeed, some oil-and-gas exporters had urged the Trump administration not to abandon the tougher rules, since they undercut their claim to offer a cleaner-burning way of producing heat and electricity. "U.S. LNG is not going to be able to compete in a world that's focused on methane emissions and intensity," says Erin Blanton, a senior research scholar at the Center on Global Energy Policy at Columbia University. </p>
Stepping on the Gas<p>In July, the Department of Energy issued an export license to Jordan Cove's developer, Canada's Pembina Pipeline Corp. In a statement, Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette said the project would provide "reliable, affordable, and cleaner-burning natural gas to our allies around the world."</p><p>As a West Coast terminal, Jordan Cove offers a faster route to Asia where its capacity of 7.8 million tons of LNG a year could serve to heat more than 15 million homes. At its peak, its construction would also create 6,000 jobs, the company says, in a stagnant corner of Oregon.</p><p>But the project still lacks multiple local and state permits, and its biggest asset – a Pacific port – has become its biggest handicap, says Ms. Blanton. "They are putting infrastructure in a state where there's no political support for the pipeline or the terminal, unlike in Louisiana or Texas," she says. </p><p>Ms. Brown, the environmental lawyer, says she wants to see Jordan Cove buried, not just mothballed until natural gas prices recover. But she knows that it's only one among many LNG projects and that others will likely get built, even if Biden is elected in November, despite growing evidence of the harm caused by methane emissions. </p>
- Biden Commits to Banning Fossil Fuel Subsidies After DNC Dropped It ›
- As Biden Embraces More Ambitious Climate Plan, Fossil Fuel Execs ... ›
- Biden Announces $2 Trillion Climate and Green Recovery Plan ... ›
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Grayson Jaggers
The connection between the pandemic and our dietary habits is undeniable. The stress of isolation coupled with a struggling economy has caused many of us to seek comfort with our old friends: Big Mac, Tom Collins, Ben and Jerry. But overindulging in this kind of food and drink might not just be affecting your waistline, but could potentially put you at greater risk of illness by hindering your immune system.
- 15 Indigenous Crops to Boost Your Immune System and Celebrate ... ›
- 15 Supplements to Boost Your Immune System Right Now - EcoWatch ›
- Should I Exercise During the Coronavirus Pandemic? Experts ... ›
- The Immune System's Fight Against the Coronavirus - EcoWatch ›
As the world continues to navigate the line between reopening and maintaining safety protocols to slow the spread of the coronavirus, rapid and accurate diagnostic screening remains critical to control the outbreak. New mobile-phone-based, self-administered COVID-19 tests being developed independently around the world could be a key breakthrough in making testing more widely available, especially in developing nations.
- FDA Approves First In-Home Test for Coronavirus - EcoWatch ›
- When Should You Get a COVID-19 or Antibody Test? - EcoWatch ›
- Trump Plans to End Federal Funding for COVID-19 Testing Sites ... ›
- Trump Insider Embeds Climate Denial Into Agency Reports ... ›
- Climate Denier Is Named to Leadership Role at NOAA - EcoWatch ›
New Jersey is one step closer to passing what environmental advocates say is the strongest anti-plastic legislation in the nation.