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The story is similar with global warming. On the same day Bush introduced Clear Skies, he unveiled a "new approach" on global warming that he said was a "cleaner and better path" than the Kyoto protocol, the climate-change plan endorsed by much of the world but condemned 95 to 0 by the U.S. Senate. But this new Bush plan too was watered down. In January, Bush's Cabinet-level group on global warming, led by National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, assembled policy options meant to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions. The White House rejected the toughest provisions--including, sources say, one requiring industry to report its carbon dioxide output--in favor of a program in which reporting and compliance would remain voluntary. Within minutes of Bush's Feb. 14 speech spelling out his plan, green groups dismissed it as a "Valentine's Day gift to corporate polluters."
Bush's environmental approach is also marked by a certain deference to local political interests. The Administration sees this as a virtue, and looks disdainfully on the way Clinton designated vast tracts of land as protected national monuments without giving much consideration to the wishes of locals. Interior Secretary Gale Norton dismissed this approach in an interview with TIME as merely "taking out a map and drawing something in Magic Marker and saying 'This is the area.'" It's no surprise, then, that the few environmental groups that back Bush policies tend to be based outside the Beltway. "We're very supportive," says John Sheehan of the Adirondack Council, a group that fights acid rain in New York State and backs Bush's Clear Skies plan because it believes pollutants can be reduced more effectively through emissions trading than through the existing regulatory morass.
Sometimes, though, catering to the locals begets charges of hypocrisy. When the Interior Department voiced support for a ban on off-road vehicles in Florida's Big Cypress Swamp--while simultaneously undercutting the Clinton restriction of snowmobiling in Yellowstone--critics said the President was playing politics, noting that his brother Jeb, the Governor of enviro-conscious Florida, is up for re-election. Norton says the two cases are "like apples and oranges": under any new scheme, snowmobiling in Yellowstone would be permitted only on snowed-over, paved roads, while swamp buggies in Big Cypress would leave a bigger eco-footprint. But listening to the locals isn't always the best thing for the national interest. For instance, last year the Bureau of Land Management rescinded some of its own power when it scaled back a Clinton-era regulation that would have given it more authority to crack down on the worst polluting mining companies.