WASHINGTON - President Bush last week decided not to regulate carbon dioxide from electric power plants. This led many here to assume he doesn't take the threat of climate change seriously and won't try to control any greenhouse gases, such as those from car and trucks.
But Dan Becker, director of the global warming program at the Sierra Club, offered another view.
Becker said pressure will only mount on Bush to do something about global warming, and 'if it's not coming out of smokestacks, then it will have to come out of tailpipes.'
Automakers are not jumping to any conclusions, said Gloria Bergquist, vice president of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers.
'It's a very fluid environment in Washington right now,' she said. 'We expect that carbon dioxide will be part of a larger energy debate this year.'
Generally, the car companies say the science behind global warming theories is uncertain, but there is sufficient evidence for concern. The alliance, representing 13 automakers, is working on a global warming policy.
Carbon dioxide, a gas that occurs naturally in the atmosphere, also is a product of burning fossil fuels, such as gasoline. Many scientists believe excessive levels in the atmosphere will raise average temperatures by as much as 10 degrees this century, with potentially catastrophic results.