WASHINGTON The Bush administration, dismissing the recommendations of its top experts, rejected regulating the greenhouse gases blamed for global warming Friday, saying it would cripple the U.S. economy.
In a 588-page federal notice, the Environmental Protection Agency made no finding on whether global warming poses a threat to people's health or welfare, reversing an earlier conclusion at the insistence of the White House and officially kicking any decision on a solution to the next president and Congress.
The White House on Thursday rejected the EPA's suggestion three weeks earlier that the 1970 Clean Air Act can be both workable and effective for addressing global climate change. The EPA said Friday that law is "ill-suited" for dealing with global warming.
"If our nation is truly serious about regulating greenhouse gases, the Clean Air Act is the wrong tool for the job," EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson told reporters. "It is really at the feet of Congress."
White House press secretary Dana Perino said that President Bush is committed to further reductions but that there is a "right way and a wrong way to deal with climate change."
The wrong way is "to sharply increase gasoline prices, home heating bills and the cost of energy for American businesses," she said. "The right way, as the president has proposed, is to invest in new technologies."
At the just-concluded G-8 summit at Tokyo, Japan, Bush and other world leaders called for a voluntary 50 percent reduction in greenhouse gases worldwide by 2050 but offered no specifics on how to do it.
In a setback for Bush, the Supreme Court ruled last year that the government had the authority under the Clean Air Act to regulate greenhouse gases as a pollutant. Bush has consistently opposed doing that.
Congress hasn't found the will to do much about the problem either. Supporters of regulating greenhouse gases could get only 48 votes in the 100-member Senate last month. The House has held several hearings on the problem but no votes on any bill addressing it. Both major presidential candidates, Republican John McCain and Democrat Barack Obama, have endorsed variations of the approach rejected by the Senate.
In its voluminous document, the EPA laid out a buffet of options on how to reduce greenhouse gases from cars, ships, trains, power plants, factories and refineries. On Friday, Johnson called the proposals drafted by his staff as "putting a square peg into a round hole" and he said moving forward would be irresponsible.