WASHINGTON – The chief executives of 10 major corporations, on the eve of the State of the Union address, urged President Bush on Monday to support mandatory reductions in climate-changing pollution and establish reductions targets.
"We can and must take prompt action to establish a coordinated, economy-wide market-driven approach to climate protection," the executives from a broad range of industries said in a letter to the president.
Bush, who in the past has rejected mandatory controls on carbon dioxide and other "greenhouse" gases, was expected to address climate change in his State of the Union speech Tuesday night, but has repeatedly argued that voluntary efforts are the best approach.
Major industry groups such as the Chamber of Commerce and National Association of Manufacturers continue to oppose so-called "cap and trade" proposals to cut climate changing pollution, mainly carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels.
But the 10 executives, representing major utilities, aluminum and chemical companies and financial institutions, said mandatory reductions are needed and that "the cornerstone of this approach" should be a cap-and-trade system.
The officials, expected to elaborate on their plan at a news conference later Monday, include the chief executives Alcoa Inc., PB America Inc., DuPont Co., Caterpillar Inc., General Electric Co., and Duke Energy Corp.
In the letter they urged Congress to enact legislation "to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions."
Asked about this issue at his daily news briefing Monday, White House press secretary Tony Snow told reporters that "there's been some talk about, sort of, binding of economy-wide carbon caps in the speech, but they are not part of the president's proposal."
The first days of the new Democratically controlled Congress has seen a rush of legislation introduced to address climate change, all of which have some variation of a cap-and-trade approach to dealing with climate change.
Among those pushing cap-and-trade climate bills are two leading presidential aspirants, Sens. Barack Obama, D-Ill. and John McCain, R-Ariz.
Essentially such a mechanisms would have mandatory limits of greenhouse gas emissions, but would allow companies to trade emission credits to reduce the cost. Companies that can't meet the cap could purchase credits from those that exceed them or in some case from a government auction.
Also signing the letter to Bush were the executives of Lehman Brothers, PG&E Corp., PNM Resources, FPL Group and four leading environmental organizations.