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LIVE FROM THE HEADLINES

Environmentalists Charge Bush Altered Global Warming Report

Aired June 19, 2003 - 19:16   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: A little bit later on, we'll talk about the persisting claims that the Bush administration misled Americans about Iraq. Right now, though, a similar claim on a completely different issue.
"The New York Times" today reports that the White House made drastic changes to a government report on the environment in the section on global warming. Although science has moved closer to a consensus on global warming it certainly remains politically heated.

Chris Burns lays it all out.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CHRIS BURNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's a battle long fought between the Bush administration and environmentalists over the dangers of global warming and the greenhouse emissions linked to it.

The White House acknowledges it asked revisions in a report to be released Monday by the Environmental Protection Agency. Leaks to the media, they're revisions that critics say down play the threat to humans as well as the ecology.

JOHN WALKE, NATURAL RESOURCES DEFENSE COUNCIL: I see it as an inexcusable case of the Bush administration censoring the truth and sound science about global warming in order to benefit their political friends in the oil and coal industries.

BURNS: Initial documents show one section of the report reads "climate change has global consequences for human health and the environment." A subsequent draft of that passage reads "the complexity of the earth system and the interconnections among its components make it a scientific challenge to document change and diagnose its causes."

(on camera) Secretary, this report, was it doctored?

CHRISTINE WHITMAN, EPA ADMINISTRATOR: No. Not at all. Not doctored. It represents the way any report comes out, which is you have your best science. You have your best research.

BURNS: Including studies that the Bush administration says conflict over the causes and effects of global warming.

But the Democrats are on the attack. Senator and presidential hopeful Joseph Lieberman has demanded that the president release the entire original report. Environmentalists were outraged two years ago when President Bush quit the U.N.'s Kyoto treaty on fighting climate change. The president called Kyoto...

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Fatally flawed.

BUSH: He argued it's a job killer, because it would require deep cuts in industrial emissions and that China and India were unfairly exempted.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BURNS: Now the Bush administration insists that it is taking climate change seriously. It says it signed up dozens of leading companies to a volunteer program aimed at cutting emissions 18 percent over the next 10 years, but environmentalists say that kind of policy is not nearly enough -- Anderson.

COOPER: All right, haven't heard the last of this one. Chris Burns, thanks very much.

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