WASHINGTON -- Key U.S. legislators -- including the speaker of the House and the majority leader of the Senate -- have joined with lawmakers from Europe and Japan in a group to coordinate environmental lawmaking in their respective countries.
Members of the group -- called GLOBE, for Global Legislators Organization for a Balanced Environment -- said at the end of a conference here yesterday that they would introduce bills in their legislatures early next year to tackle a range of international environmental concerns, including global warming and deforestation.
GLOBE's actions should not be seen as an attempt to directly challenge the Bush administration's environmental foreign policy, said Sen. Al Gore, D-Tenn., newly elected president of the 14-nation group.
"But if the administration chooses to do nothing about these very important issues, then, yes, this would be implicitly a challenge."
GLOBE spokesmen criticized the White House's "tragic" reluctance to bind itself to an international timetable for reducing Earth-warming carbon dioxide emissions at the recent international conference in Geneva
on climate change.
"Up until now, [White House Chief of Staff] John Sununu has handled the climate negotiations in the same way he handled the budget negotiations and led both to chaos -- until in the case of the budget negotiations, it was taken out of his hands," said Mr. Gore. "I hope the same thing will be done with the climate negotiations."
But he said GLOBE would withhold judgment on the administration's policy until after international negotiations for a global warming treaty begin in Washington in February. The treaty is scheduled to be signed in Brazil in mid-1992.
The group intended to "stiffen spines not only in the White House, but in Tokyo, the capitals of Europe and the capitals of countries around the world," Mr. Gore said.
Aside from successes such as the new Clean Air Act, which President Bush signed this week, U.S. environmentalists have been struggling, for years in some cases, to get through Congress bills that would reduce carbon dioxide emissions, improve automobile fuel efficiency, reduce timber cutting in old-growth forests and protect the diversity of species.
GLOBE's U.S. spokesmen said yesterday that, by coordinating actions with lawmakers in other countries, they hoped to add the weight of international opinion and research to their efforts at home.
"You will see early in the new session of Congress a significant increase in legislative activity related to global warming," Mr. Gore said.
The bipartisan U.S. membership of GLOBE includes Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell, D-Maine; Sen. John Heinz, R-Pa., president of the group's U.S. branch; House Speaker Thomas S. Foley, D-Wash.; Representative Constance A. Morella, R-Md.-8th; Representative Richard A. Gephardt, D-Mo.; and Representative James H. Scheuer, D-N.Y., former president and co-founder of the organization two years ago.
In the Japanese membership are representatives from the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and opposition parties.
The European representatives are all members of the 12-nation European Parliament. The group's headquarters is in Brussels.