WASHINGTON (AP) _ The head of the Environmental Protection Agency said Monday the growth of greenhouse gases by less than 1% in 2005 shows the administration's program to address global warming ``is delivering real results.''
The pronouncement by EPA Administrator Dave Johnson brought a quick response from some environmentalists.
``Things have come to a pretty sad state of affairs when the EPA tries to spin increased greenhouse gas emissions as a victory,'' said Frank O'Donnell, president of Clean Air Watch, an environmental advocacy group.
The EPA said its annual greenhouse gas assessment showed that 7.26 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases were released by U.S. sources in 2005, an increase of 0.8% from the previous year.
``The Bush administration's unparalleled financial, international and domestic commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions is delivering real results,'' Johnson proclaimed in a statement.
``As America's economy continues to grow, our aggressive yet practical strategy is putting us on track to reach President Bush's goal to reduce our nation's greenhouse gas intensity 18% by 2012,'' he continued.
Greenhouse gas emissions have been increasing an average of 1.2% a year since 1990, according to the Energy Department, and the smaller increase in 2005 may have had little to do with Bush's climate policy.
``The slow growth in emissions from 2004 to 2005 can be attributed mainly to higher energy prices that suppressed demand, low or negative growth in several energy-intensive industries, and weather-related disruptions,'' the Energy Department said in a separate report on greenhouse gas emissions.
In 2005, Hurricane Katrina disrupted oil and natural gas supplies from the Gulf of Mexico, causing gasoline prices to jump briefly well above $3 a gallon and caused havoc in a number of industries that rely heavily on natural gas.
The EPA report shows a 3.6% decline in greenhouse gas emissions by industry in 2005, some of which presumably reflected the hurricane-related energy supply problems. Carbon dioxide emissions from power plants increased by 2.8% in 2005.
The EPA report tracked emissions of carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels _ the principal greenhouse gas _ and the carbon equivalent of five other greenhouse gases.
As to the administration's focus emissions ``intensity'' which tracks releases as they related to economic growth, environmentalists argue that avoids the argument for actual reductions in amounts of gases going into the atmosphere.
``The climate system doesn't respond to emission intensity. It's a red herring,'' said Ben Dunham, an attorney for U.S. PIRG, an environmental advocacy group.
He said most climate scientists believe you need as much as an 80% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by mid-century to avoid the worst impacts of global warming.