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Global Climate Change Digest

A Guide to Information on Greenhouse Gases and Ozone Depletion
Published July 1988 through June 1999



Item #d94may248

Progress on the Climate Change Action Plan for reducing U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, announced last October by the Clinton Administration, was the topic of a meeting organized April 21 by the White House. (See Intl. Environ. Rptr., p. 382, May 4; Chem. Eng. News, pp. 28-29, May 9; Global Environ. Change Rep., p. 4, May 13.)

The day before the conference, the U.S. Department of Energy reached an agreement with five large electric utility industry associations on details of the Climate Challenge Program, a major component of the action plan. Under the voluntary program, individual utilities may choose from a wide range of options that would contribute to reducing greenhouse emissions. (See Environ. Rptr. Curr. Devel., pp. 2226-2227, Apr. 29; Global Environ. Change Rep., pp. 6-7, May 13.) These options include reducing their own emissions in a specified manner, or contributing to programs on energy efficiency, renewable energy sources or forest carbon management.

Energy Secretary Hazel O'Leary told conference participants that so far, utilities representing 80 percent of the generating capacity of the U.S. have expressed specific interest in cooperating under the action plan. A document summarizing progress on all components of the action plan is now available from the Department of Energy.

Outside the meeting, demonstrators from Greenpeace voiced their disillusionment with the action plan. A report released by the Natural Resources Defense Council and other environmental groups concludes that the U.S. will not meet its emission goal without additional measures; a companion report suggests ways to meet the goal. (See Science News, p. 278, Apr. 30; Chem. Eng. News, pp. 28-29, May 9.) However, in a Senate committee hearing on the action plan held May 10, Secretary O'Leary defended the plan, saying it is too early to predict its outcome and warning that any severe cuts by Congress in the Administration's proposed budget would put the program at risk. (See Intl. Environ. Rptr., p. 424, May 18.)

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