Seattle Adopts Kyoto Limits, Scolds Bush
By Chris Stetkiewicz, 7/25/01
SEATTLE (Reuters) - "Seattle officials on Monday said the city would meet greenhouse gas reduction
targets in the 1997 Kyoto Protocol and blasted President Bush for pulling out of the international treaty. "We are sending
a message to the federal administration that it is time to act, just like the rest of the world," Mayor Paul Schell told a
press conference. Dubbed the Emerald City for its lush urban forests and boasting some of the greenest power and waste programs
in the nation, Seattle pledged to beat the Kyoto goal to cut carbon dioxide emissions by 7 percent from 1990 levels and try
to cut three times that much. Largely through conservation and purchases of wind power, Seattle will meet rising local electricity
demand without spewing more greenhouse gases over the next decade and will offset its entire emission load by planting trees,
reducing road traffic and recycling industrial waste and heat. The mitigation would cost city-owned utility Seattle City Light
about $3 million a year, a tiny fraction of the half billion-dollar annual budget, officials said, rejecting Bush's assertion
that the Kyoto treaty would wreck local economies.
The United States is the world's biggest polluters and the only major power to pull out of the Kyoto
treaty, although the remaining signatories on Monday agreed to adhere to the targets anyway at a meeting in Bonn. "It's
a scandal that the White House won't step up to (the issue) and Seattle has to," said City Councilor Jim Compton. Seattle
has a decidedly green advantage over the rest of the nation, drawing most of its electricity from hydropower dams strung across
raging rivers slicing through the U.S. Northwest. And in fact those very dams fuel sharp criticism from environmentalists
for blocking migrating salmon, including several endangered species. Still, praise rolled in from various green groups for
Seattle's efforts to go "climate neutral." "Seattle Mayor Paul Schell is providing the environmental leadership that is so
obviously lacking in Washington, D.C.," said Daniel Lashof, head climate scientist at the National Resources Defense Council.
Local residents, including many vocal environmentalists, voted heavily against Bush in last year's presidential election,
though the statewide Washington ballot gave only a narrow victory to former Vice President Al Gore. Schell said he had not
talked directly to Bush but noted that Bush's Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Christine Todd Whitman had expressed
an interest in local conservation programs during a recent visit.
"Schell hopes to marshal support from other U.S. municipalities before taking Seattle's arguments
directly to the White House. Beyond addressing local demand for green policies, Seattle officials also see themselves
on the front line of the global warming debate, with big potential environmental threats right in their own backyard. Two
years of drought have drained the region's reservoirs, rivers and mountain snowpack to dangerously low levels, forcing a temporary
shutdown of a dozen hydroelectricity-powered aluminum smelters, pitting farmers against salmon in a battle for precious water
and disrupting power supplies up and down the west coast. "The cost of not acting could be extraordinarily high. At its current
pace global warming will reduce the region's snowpack by 50 percent over the next 50 years, threatening drinking water, irrigation
and hydroelectric supplies," the city said in a statement. Seattle residents and companies have responded to a call for water
and power conservation during the drought, helping hold down utility rate hikes, the city has said."