Will Bush Flip-Flop on GHG Emissions?

Matt Nisbet has the most intriguing speculation I've yet seen as to why the rumors about a global warming policy shift, which I have heretofore discounted, might actually be true. At least one thing seems clear: There will be global warming content in the January 23rd State of the Union address. Question for some enterprising blog reader: Has Bush ever voluntarily discussed global warming, or even mentioned that phrase (or "climate change"), in a previous SOTU address? I am skeptical that it has happened before. If I'm right about that then anything that Bush says will, in some sense, be a landmark.

If Bush is truly planning an actual flip-flop, meanwhile, that would certainly represent a wise strategy in a political sense. Within a few weeks, the next report of the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change will be coming out, and it will spark tons of media attention, virtually all of which will reflect negatively on Bush--unless he can figure out some way to get out ahead of the issue. Something dramatic. Like, say, announcing support for mandatory caps on emissions....I'm not saying Bush is actually this clever, but you can see the logic.

In any event, until the SOTU I guess we'll all just have to keep reading tea leaves. Meanwhile, I wouldn't concoct any SOTU drinking games based upon how many times the president says "global warming." You might wind up painfully sober at the end of the speech.

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Following the philosophical path that will lead to victory in Iraq, Bush will propose a surge in CO2 in the atmosphere, followed by redeployment, i.e. sequestration.

Because of its urgency, the government will award a no-bid contract to Halliburton to design and build the sequestration plant adjacent to the My Pet Goat wing of the G. W. Bush presidential library.

Reading tea leaves, indeed.

Bloggers are a lot like psychics and palm readers in that regard.

The ones who guess and get it right (by chance) are then held up as soothsayers -- a characterization that they themselves are quick to play up --, while the ones who got it wrong are simply forgotten.

It's a lot of nonsense.

By Dark Tent (not verified) on 19 Jan 2007 #permalink

I'm inclined not to trust the Bush administration on this. After all during the 2000 campaign Bush did say that he would regulate CO2 emissions, but after he was elected the administration said they never had any intention to do so. They said that the only reason he said he would was because a speech writer included that statement in his speeches without anyone's knowledge or approval.

IMO the administration has no intention to do anything meaningful. This might be an attempt to preempt and undercut any legislation that comes out of congress.

By Joseph O'Sullivan (not verified) on 19 Jan 2007 #permalink

"a surge in CO2 in the atmosphere, followed by redeployment,"

I love that, Fred.

Invokes visions of little CO2 molecules running out of the gas bottle and then magically running back in (with a little help from Maxwell's Demon, of course).

A sequestration plant adjacent to the My Pet Goat wing?

I hope that still leaves room for the "Terrible Texas Tongue-Twisters" wing. I bet that would be the most popular of all.

By Dark Tent (not verified) on 19 Jan 2007 #permalink

I suspect that enough industry lobbyist types have requested he do something to try to control pending regulation. I.E. propose regulations that are only minimally painful to industry, but pre-empt the effort for more strigent regs in a few years. This would make his supporters happy, and make him appear more moderate politically.

To comment on Dark Tent's observations. I heard recently that when Dubya campaigned in 2000, he had intended to govern as a moderate. After the contentious fight over the election, Rove & co. concluded that he could never make peace with the losers, and a hard right turn was his only option. This may be the origin of the original GHG flip-flop.

I'd like to know the source of bigTom's 2000 story.

Bush's environmental policies as governor were as bad as his environmental policies as president.

From what I have seen and read, Bush Sr.'s strategists told him not to bother with any kind of pro-environmental policies because most environmentalists were never going to support him anyway. Bush Sr. rejected this advise, but Bush Jr. took it up rabidly. Bush Jr. used the PR machine to spin himself as a moderate on environmental issues.

By Joseph O'Sullivan (not verified) on 19 Jan 2007 #permalink

Bush has not mentioned global warming in a SOTU address, although in answer to a question after last year's SOTU, he did speak positively of India's nuclear energy program. He explained to the questioner--a citizen, not a reporter--that one of the advantages of such a program is reduced emissions of greenhouse gases. So he does understand have some understanding of the science.

Bush insiders have promised that the speech will "knock your socks off" when it comes to energy policy, according to NPR. So it's remotely possible that he will speak the words "climate change" in the SOTU. "Global warming" is out of the question, I think.

But a White House insider also told the Financial Times that the Stern report on the costs of global warming was "popular science," so I very much doubt he will bring it up.

http://achangeinthewind.typepad.com/achangeinthewind/2007/01/what_the_p…

Kit Stolz writes:
Bush insiders have promised that the speech will "knock your socks off" when it comes to energy policy, according to NPR. So it's remotely possible that he will speak the words "climate change" in the SOTU. "Global warming" is out of the question, I think.

So the following excerpt from a White House press briefing quoted in her link is particularly interesting:

MR. SNOW: Look, we'll have a State of the Union address in a week and we'll lay out our policy on global warming.

Global what, Tony? Did you really use a forbidden phrase?

In any case, I still expect a Snow job from the White House and its spokesman every time they go on the record.

"Bush insiders have promised that the speech will "knock your socks off" when it comes to energy policy, according to NPR."

..and as we all know, when it comes to parroting the White House word for word, NPR is second only to FOX as a "news" source.

NPR: where Balance is King and the AEI is Queen.

By Dark tent (not verified) on 21 Jan 2007 #permalink