Banner: Maryland Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler
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For Immediate Release
July 17, 2002
Contact: Sean Caine, 410-576-6357

CURRAN, 10 OTHER STATE ATTORNEYS GENERAL PRESS
BUSH ADMINISTRATION ON CLIMATE CHANGE

Attorney General J. Joseph Curran, Jr., announced that he and Attorneys General from 10 other states today called on the Bush Administration to reconsider its position on the regulation of greenhouse gas emissions. Noting that states are filling the regulatory void left by federal inaction, the Attorneys General submitted a five-page letter to the Administration outlining why a national approach to the climate change problem will actually lead to more cost-effective solutions.

In a July 17 letter sent to President George W. Bush, Attorneys General from Alaska, California, Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont joined Curran in urging the Bush Administration to take a "strong national approach" to the environmental and health risks imposed by climate change that will "better protect the American economy in the long run."

Identifying climate change as the "most pressing environmental challenge of the 21st century," the Attorneys General pointed to a May 2002 report that the United States recently issued as cause for immediate action. The report, U.S. Climate Action Report 2002, confirms the dangers of global climate change and projects that its primary cause, emissions of greenhouse gases - primarily carbon dioxide produced from the combustion of fossil fuels - will increase by 43 percent by 2020.

"Scientists around the world are becoming increasingly convinced that greenhouse gases are putting our resources at risk," Attorney General Curran said. "With today's action, we hope to convince the Bush administration of the need to act now to work toward an efficient solution."

While the Bush Administration is now acknowledging the negative impacts of global climate change, the Attorneys General expressed concern that it has yet to propose a credible plan addressing the findings and conclusions outlined in its recent report. Rather than proposing a solution, the recent report focuses on the need to accommodate coming changes, suggesting, for example, that increased use of air conditioning should be used to deal with heat-related health impacts. The Attorneys General likened the Administration’s approach to former Interior Secretary Hodel’s suggestion that the government contend with the hole in the ozone layer by encouraging Americans to make better use of sunglasses, suntan lotion and broad brimmed hats.

According to the State Department’s report, global climate change, primarily caused by greenhouse gas emissions, can result in increased temperatures, rising sea levels, and increased health risks, as the effects of climate change can result in illnesses and deaths associated with temperature extremes, storms and other heavy precipitation events, air pollution, water contamination, and diseases carried by mosquitoes, ticks and rodents. A just published study in the journal, Science, warns of increased risks from insect-borne diseases such as malaria and yellow fever.

"Not only have we underestimated the rate at which climate would change, recent studies indicate that we have underestimated the rate at which organisms, including insects and others that can transport disease, are reacting to these changes," said Dr. Paul R. Epstein, Associate Director of the Center for Health and the Global Environment at Harvard Medical School. "The question we need to be asking is not whether we can afford to do something about climate change, but whether we can afford not to."

In response to the lack of initiative at the federal level, several states, including Maryland, are taking steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions at the local level. In Massachusetts, state regulations were adopted last year requiring carbon dioxide reductions by power plants and in New Hampshire "cap and trade" legislation was recently enacted. The legislature in California just passed a bill that will lead to the "maximum feasible" reductions of carbon dioxide emissions from vehicles. Also, a "carbon cap" is being considered by elected leaders in New York.

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