Saturday, December 03, 2005

The United States Is Opposed
Carl Pope
The United States Is Opposed

"The United States is opposed." That's how Harlan Watson, the chief of the U.S. delegation to the international global warming meeting in Montreal, responded this week. What's appalling is that Watson was not referring to the Kyoto Protocol, which the Bush administration has always been against.

Nor was he taking off on some European or Third World proposal that the U.S. found objectionable. Watson was nixing the idea of continuing to negotiate about international targets for greenhouse emissions, even though we already are a signatory to (and in violation of) the Rio Treaty, which binds us at the least to hold emissions down to 1990 levels. So the U.S. is against further discussion of the world's biggest environmental challenge and against talking about how the U.S. might honor its treaty obligations.

In fact, Watson even opposed having the conference talk about his own government's proposal. As Elizabeth May, the Executive Director of Sierra Club Canada put it:

"The U.S. even objected to any discussion of its pet techno-fix, carbon capture and storage -- a hugely controversial technology to bury carbon dioxide below ground and hope it stays there. The U.S. is still pushing carbon capture and storage -- it just does not want to allow that discussion to happen in the context of the United Nations Framework Convention or Kyoto."

This opposition was expressed in such incredible diplomatic doublespeak that I won't even try to quote it, but the State Department has kindly posted the full verbiage on its website, and it's worth reading as a model if there’s something you need to say but you don't actually want anyone to know what you mean.

Meanwhile Richard Pombo's land grab ran into still more resistance in the West, when five western governors, led by Wyoming's Dave Freudenthal, weighed in against Pombo's attempted public-lands giveaway rider tucked into the pending House version of the Budget Bill. Freudenthal was joined by Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer, Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano, New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski, and Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire:

"Private lands that have historically been accessible by the average outdoorsman are becoming increasingly closed to public access. It follows that public lands have over the years become essential to these folks, but there are provisions in this bill that could see those lands lost to the public as they pass into private ownership."

And while it happens that all six governors who signed the letter are Democrats, Pombo can't take much heart from this fact. Because Wyoming's two Republican senators are now joining the alarm, with Senator Craig Thomas saying "I won't stand by and let a Band-Aid fix to the Mining Act become a chronic injury to land use in our state."