October 19, 2007
Today, Senator Inhofe, together with George Voinovich (R-OH), joined David Vitter (R-LA), Larry Craig (R-ID), John Barrasso (R-WY) and Kit Bond (R-MO), in sending a letter to EPW chairman Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Subcommittee Chairman Senator Joe Lieberman (I-CT), expressing concerns about the committee review process for the Lieberman-Warner global warming cap-and-trade bill. The Senators called the review process "potentially troubling" and called for "a thorough review and vetting by the [Environment and Public Works] Committee" of the bill, S. 2191.
The October 19 letter reads in part: "Yesterday, Mr. Lieberman and Mr. Warner released 214 pages of language for a legislative approach to the climate change issue. The Subcommittee also has announced a single hearing with a single minority opposing witness on this legislation on October 24, 2007. We acknowledge the commitment Mr. Lieberman and Mr. Warner, both of whom we hold in the highest regard, have shown to this issue. The process by which the Committee will review this far-reaching proposal, however, is potentially troubling to us."
"While the Committee has indeed held several hearings on the need for climate change legislation, it has held no hearings on the specific legislative language it intends to mark up. We ask that you ensure a sufficient number of hearings and witnesses on both sides to review the specific legislative provisions of your bill and the many fundamental issues it involves. Complex environmental legislation establishing new emission control regimes typically includes multiple hearings on the legislative language and ample time for Members to review legislative language," the letter explained.
The Senators made clear that the Committee needs to engage in a deliberative process with input from an array of affected stakeholders and provide an opportunity for experts to have "adequate time to review, analyze and model its provisions."
Senators Lieberman and Warner introduced S. 2191, "America's Climate Security Act" on October 18, 2007.
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Full Text of Letter: (Click Here For PDF version with signatures)
October 19, 2007
The Honorable Barbara Boxer
The Honorable Joseph I. Lieberman
Dear Chairman Boxer and Chairman Lieberman:
Yesterday, Mr. Lieberman and Mr. Warner released 214 pages of language for a legislative approach to the climate change issue. The Subcommittee also has announced a single hearing with a single minority opposing witness on this legislation on October 24, 2007. We acknowledge the commitment Mr. Lieberman and Mr. Warner, both of whom we hold in the highest regard, have shown to this issue. The process by which the Committee will review this far-reaching proposal, however, is potentially troubling to us.
Certainly you will agree that a subject this technical - affecting so many different people, at different income levels, in different lines of work in different parts of the country - deserves a thorough review and vetting by the Committee. While the Committee has indeed held several hearings on the need for climate change legislation, it has held no hearings on the specific legislative language it intends to mark up. We ask that you ensure a sufficient number of hearings and witnesses on both sides to review the specific legislative provisions of your bill and the many fundamental issues it involves.
Complex environmental legislation establishing new emission control regimes typically includes multiple hearings on the legislative language and ample time for Members to review legislative language. For example, when the Committee was considering multi-pollutant emission reduction legislation under the Clear Skies Act, the Committee held three legislative hearings over a period of two months before proceeding to a markup. Under that considered process, the Committee was able to hear from the Environmental Protection Agency, state and local officials, union representatives, public interest groups, various trade associations, and representatives from financial institutions.
In addition, the Committee received in-depth analyses from both the Environmental Protection Agency and the Energy Information Administration. Extensive negotiations were also held at the staff level for all offices wishing to participate to ensure that all of the Committee Members' concerns were adequately considered and, where possible, addressed. This considered approach provided Members with the input and time necessary for meaningful participation in the Committee mark-up process.
Moreover, the Subcommittee on Environmental Protection followed a similar process during consideration of the 1990 Amendments to the Clean Air Act. From September 1989 to the final markup in December 1989, the Subcommittee held three legislative hearings, which provided Members with the valuable opportunity to question a wide variety of witnesses on the implications of specific provisions in the legislation.
We also note that, on environmental legislation of significant importance, the Committee has a history of expending the time and consideration necessary to achieve broad, bipartisan support before reporting legislation out of Committee. In the past, this has ensured that, when moving from full Committee to the Senate Floor, the legislation has matured sufficiently for consideration by the full Senate body. We believe this front-end work on consensus is even more important given the current demands on floor time and the underlying legislative atmosphere in general.
Again, we acknowledge the commitment on this issue that has been shown by two senior and very well respected Members of the Senate. We ask that you agree that this bill, on an issue this important, receive the number of hearings sufficient to hear from the array of stakeholders impacted by this bill and experts provided adequate time to review, analyze and model its provisions.
Sincerely,________________________ ________________________ James M. Inhofe George V. Voinovich United States Senator United States Senator ________________________ ________________________ David Vitter John Barrasso United States Senator United States Senator ________________________ ________________________ Larry E. Craig Christopher S. Bond United States Senator United States Senator
October 18, 2007
On Thursday, Senator Inhofe commented on the introduction of S. 2191, "America's Climate Security Act" by Senators Joe Lieberman (ID-CT) and John Warner (R-VA), calling the legislation yet another in a series of global warming cap-and-trade bills that would cripple our economy while achieving no real environmental benefits.
"The Lieberman-Warner bill will burden American families with additional energy costs and significantly harm the United States economy," Senator Inhofe said. "Senators are going to be asking the American people to pay more for home energy and pay higher prices at the gas pump for no climate benefit. This bill will simply result in real economic pain, for no climate gain. MIT climate scientist Richard Lindzen correctly summed up these types of efforts in March when he said, ‘Controlling carbon is a bureaucrat's dream. If you control carbon, you control life.'
"I look forward to Environment & Public Works Committee hearings on this legislation. The American people deserve an open and honest debate on the merits of any proposed climate change legislation, especially considering that mandatory carbon cap-and-trade legislation will impose the largest tax increase ever in the U.S. without any measurable climate benefits. To put it bluntly: The American people are being asked to pay significantly more for energy just so lawmakers in Washington can say they did ‘something' about global warming. And just what will cap-and-trade legislation actually do? Cap-and-trade policies have been tried in Europe and they have proven to be an utter disaster. European emissions continue to climb while our current policies have resulted in emissions tailing off in the U.S. If we were going to impose enormous costs to our economy, a carbon tax would be a much more efficient and transparent approach.
"This bill [S. 2191] is patterned after the Lieberman-McCain bill which an MIT study earlier this year found would cost $3500 per family of four. According to an EPA analysis, Lieberman-McCain would impose a price increase for oil of 20% and for natural gas of 23%. This will have enormous impacts, especially on the poor. A 2006 survey of Colorado homeless families with children found that high energy bills were cited as one of the two main reasons they became homeless. (LINK) The Lieberman-Warner is even more stringent than the Lieberman-McCain bill on covered sectors, but fails to provide any more environmental benefits. In addition, the United States Senate has passed two resolutions that any climate action must neither harm our economy nor fail to include developing countries. Lieberman-Warner does not pass that test.
"Why should we send American jobs to China while China builds a new coal plant every three days and will ramp up production even further? Moreover, our plants are more efficient than China's plants, so S.2191 could cause net global emissions to increase, not decrease. All of this cap-and-trade talk comes at a time when the science underpinning man-made global warming fears is being debunked in peer-reviewed studies. In August, a comprehensive survey of peer-reviewed studies from 2004-2007 revealed that climate science continues to shift toward the views of global warming skeptics." (LINK)
CO2 cap-and-trade schemes were exposed by a recent CBO study as creating massive wealth redistribution from the poor and working class to wealthier Americans. Further, according to a MIT study released earlier this year, cap-and-trade legislation introduced earlier in the Senate this year by Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Senator Boxer (D-CA) would cost energy sector consumers an amount equal to $4,500 per American family of four. The same study found a bill sponsored by Senator Lieberman and Senator McCain (R-AZ) would cost consumers $3,500 per family of four. And a new EPA analysis shows the Lieberman - McCain bill would cost up to half a trillion dollars by 2030 and $1.3 trillion by 2050 - and that was based on assumptions designed to low-ball the number, begging the question of how high the real figure would be. The Kyoto Protocol would have imposed an equivalent tax of $300 billion a year, 10 times the size of the Clinton-Gore tax increase of 1993.
The United States Senate has passed two similar resolutions establishing a standard for passing global warming legislation. In 1997, the Byrd-Hagel Sense of the Senate, which passed 95 - 0, resolved that the U.S. should not be a signatory to any international agreement that would result in serious harm to the U.S. economy or did not mandate reductions from the developing world. Similarly, the Bingaman Sense of the Senate, passed in 2005, resolved that the U.S. should address global warming as long as it will not significantly harm the United States economy and encourages comparable action by other nations that are major trading partners and key contributors to global emissions.
October 19, 2007
Today, Senator Inhofe joined U.S. Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), Senator David Vitter (R-La.), Chairman and Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Transportation Safety, Infrastructure Security and Water Quality, and Senator Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee to sponsor a resolution commemorating the 35th anniversary of the Clean Water Act. The resolution was adopted today by the Senate by unanimous consent.
Senator Inhofe said: "Today as we mark the 35th anniversary of the Clean Water Act, I am proud to join with my Senate colleagues in recognition of the tremendous progress our nation has made in cleaning up and improving our nation's water resources. Thanks to the CWA and the commitment by the American people, our nation's waterways are far cleaner and our drinking water dramatically improved. As we look to build upon this success, I am mindful of the challenges ahead. Oklahomans face a projected $586 million in clean water related needs over the next 20 years. I remain committed to working to ensure these needs are met and that we do so in a way that makes sense both for our environment and our economy."
Senator Lautenberg said: "For 35 years, Americans have relied on the Clean Water Act to keep our lakes, rivers, streams and coastal waters safe for us to fish and swim. It is the law that preserves our wetlands and protects our drinking water. I'm pleased to join my colleagues in commemorating this landmark of environmental and public health protection."
Senator Vitter said: "The Clean Water Act is responsible for many important impacts since it became law more than 35 years ago. The Act has leveraged billions of dollars for state and local governments to improve water quality and address water infrastructure needs. The entire Lake Pontchartrain Basin ecosystem will continue to benefit from the assistance provided under the Act."
Senator Boxer said: "The Clean Water Act has been one of our most successful environmental statutes to date. Since 1972, we have made tremendous progress, and today, our rivers, lakes and streams are far cleaner than they were three decades ago. But there is still more work to be done. Forty percent of the nation's tested waters currently fail to meet quality standards. As we honor the successes of the CWA today, it is important that we also recommit to protecting the quality of our nation's water."
The Clean Water Act, a bipartisan measure which was enacted on October 18, 1972, is the primary federal law addressing water pollution, aiming to keep waterways safe and clean. The CWA places restrictions on pollution levels and creates water quality standards for the nation's lakes, rivers, streams and other waters. The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee has jurisdiction over water pollution and resource issues.
October 16, 2007
On Tuesday, October 16, 2007, Senator Inhofe was a guest on Glenn Beck's radio and televison programs. The Senator discussed several import issues including the Law of the Sea Treaty (LOST), global warming, and the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA). Included below is additional information that Senator Inhofe wants share with you on each of these issues.
What Senator Inhofe wants you to know about the Law of the Sea Treaty:
-President Reagan refused to sign onto LOST in 1982.
-Congress has held hearing on LOST since at least 1994. Senate EPW Committee held a public hearing on March 23, 2004 on LOST. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee held recent hearings on LOST within the last month.
-LOST creates a governing body known as the International Seabed Authority (ISA) to regulate 70% of the Earth's surface which places seadbed mining, fishing rights, and deep-sea oil exploration under the control of a global bureaucracy
-The ISA has the power to levy a global tax that would be paid directly to the ISA by companies seeking to mine the world's oceans.
-LOST created a new global court to settle disputes under the treaty
-LOST could also infringe on the War on Terror, specifically the President's Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) which combats the transfer of WMD's. LOST only identifies four circumstances under which ships may be stopped on the high seas. Those are human trafficking, drug trafficking, piracy, and illegal broadcasting. So, if the U.S. were to become a formal party to LOST, we may face challenges to our PSI program.
-LOST exempts, but most importantly does not define, military activities from dispute resolutions. A dispute over whether a disputed activity is military could be decided by LOST judges.
Read Senator Inhofe's Floor Speech on LOST from October 4, 2007
What Senator Inhofe wants you to know about global warming:
There is an abundance of new peer-reviewed studies, analyses, and data error discoveries in the last several months that has prompted scientists to declare that fear of catastrophic man-made global warming "bites the dust" and the scientific underpinnings for alarm are "falling apart."
-Antarctic ice has GROWN to record levels
-The Southern Hemisphere has COOLED
-Global averaged temperatures have not risen since 1998
-A survey of 538 peer-reviewed studies reveals that less than half of published scientists endorse man-made global warming theory and only 7% believe that man-made gases are a major cause of global warming.
-But despite all of these developments, the American people are soon going to be asked to pay thousands per family for so called "solutions" to warming.
What Senator Inhofe wants you to know about WRDA:
There is a critically important national infrastructure bill [the Water Resources Development Act of 2007 or WRDA (H.R. 1495)] that is long overdue and a model of fiscal responsibility. Unfortunately, President George Bush is threatening to veto this bill, saying it contains "excessive spending".
-The WRDA bill is an authorization bill, not an appropriations bill, so it doesn't spend a dime of Federal money.
-The WRDA bill authorizes projects in the areas of navigation, flood damage reduction, hurricane and storm damage reduction and environmental restoration.
-If it fails now, there will be no restraints - no upper limit -- placed on Congressional spending for infrastructure.
-I will personally demand a 60 vote super majority before allowing any project to exceed its authorized level.
-The authorization process is the most significant part of the process that STOPS runaway spending and distinguishes between political earmarks and true needs.
-As the most conservative member of the United States Senate, as ranked by the American Conservative Union, I have long argued that the two most important functions of the federal government are to provide for the national defense and to develop and improve public infrastructure.
-Again, this bill does not spend any money.
Paul Weyrich: Senator Inhofe: Leader in Appropriations Accountability
October 18, 2007
Good morning. First, I'd like to express my dismay at the fact that, despite repeated requests from the minority, the Centers for Disease Control was not invited to testify. The National Center for Environmental Health, within the CDC, is the lead agency regarding childhood lead exposure, and their testimony would certainly have been germane. In preparation for this hearing, I sent the Director of the Center a letter with several questions about their work and would like to enter their response in the record.
Generally speaking, addressing lead exposure is one of the great American success stories. According to data from the CDC and others, the median concentration of lead in the blood of children 5 years old and under has declined 89% since the period of 1976-1980, to 1.6 micrograms per deciliter in 2003-2004. Despite our success, the CDC has found that "there are some populations and geographic areas that have disproportionately high risk of childhood lead poisoning." To get at this problem, the Department of Health and Human Services has established an ambitious goal of eliminating elevated blood lead levels in children by 2010. I recognize this problem first hand due to my involvement in the Tar Creek Superfund Site where the blood lead levels in children are the highest in the state. Although these levels have been decreasing, there is much more work left to do.
According to the CDC, the two major remaining exposure pathways for children are lead in housing and non-essential uses of lead in other products, such as toys, jewelry, etc.
I don't want the toy issue, however, to make us lose focus. According to the CDC, paint, paint dust, and paint-contaminated soil account for more than 70% of exposure. Additionally, it is estimated that 24 million housing units have deteriorating paint and contaminated house dust. It has been shown that poorer children living in older housing units are disproportionately at risk for elevated blood lead levels. With extensive assistance from state and local agencies, CDC has identified housing, down to the apartment number in many cases, where multiple children with high blood lead levels have been identified. These "repeat offender" properties should be our greatest target. Without objection, I would like to enter into the record a study that appeared in Public Health Management Practice that developed a method for identifying and prioritizing "high risk" buildings that could be pursued for lead poisoning prevention activities. I appreciate the National Center for Healthy Housing and the National Association of Home Builders joining us today to discuss their efforts to address residential lead paint.
The Centers for Disease Control has established a national level of concern for children whose blood lead levels are more than 10 micrograms per deciliter. This is the level at which public health action is recommended. Compelling studies done by one of our witnesses, Dr. Lanphear, have shown adverse developmental and behavioral effects at blood lead levels below this number. Thus, there is an interest in lowering the national level of concern below 10 micrograms per deciliter.
My concern with this approach is that efforts to identify and provide services to children at levels below 10 will deflect needed resources from children who we already know have blood lead levels above 10 and are the greatest risk from exposure. Resources are scarce at all levels of government and I believe the biggest bang for our buck comes from directing our resources at those housing units and neighborhoods where there is documented chronic lead exposure and a revolving door of kids with lead poisoning. I'm also concerned that CDC has not identified any "effective clinical or public health interventions that reliably and consistently lower blood lead levels that already are below 10 micrograms per deciliter."
Lead poisoning is a preventable disease, and we should focus our efforts on reducing or eliminating exposures before they happen. That will benefit all children, regardless of their current blood lead level. I look forward to hearing from the witnesses.
October 17, 2007
Today this Subcommittee will be addressing an important issue for Americans and that is the clean up of toxic waste sites. The Superfund program was enacted over 25 years ago to deal with sites that were endangering the health of our citizens and the environment. I am happy to say that for the most part, this program has been quite a success. A great number of these sites have been cleaned up and we have established additional provisions in the law to guard against the creation of new sites and hold those accountable for any pollution to our environment.
I anticipate discussion today regarding the pace of clean ups and the addition of new sites to the National Priorities List. It is important to note that clean up rates from the Clinton Administration reflect completions of simpler and smaller Superfund sites – the low hanging fruit. What are left today are highly complicated sites. I know that in Oklahoma, I have been concerned with the progress at the Tar Creek Superfund site. Over the last few years, I have been pleased to see a new collaboration among the federal and state agencies involved in this site, and although I know there is still much left to do, I appreciate your work and the work of Regional Administrator Greene and the Region 6 Superfund director Sam Coleman
Within Superfund, we must prioritize the protection of human health first. Once this is done, some sensible analysis should go into the clean ups of these sites. Cost considerations should be balanced with future intent of the land use and risk of exposure. There needs to be multiple clean up alternatives considered for each site and this important decision should be made by high level EPA officials - someone that can be held accountable rather than EPA bureaucrats.
In fact, it has been a focus of mine while I was Chairman, and I will continue to press for accountability of the EPA regions. All too often the regions disregard their agency’s own guidance and directives, making decisions that incur significant long term costs for the agency without any type of review. For example, I have been most troubled to learn of the Federal Creosote Site in Manville, New Jersey. In this case, the EPA has acted contrary to its own guidance and excavated 450,000 tons of dirt and shipped a significant portion of it to Canada for incineration. Amazingly, the decision was made by someone at the EPA to dig up a shopping mall parking lot and excavate 125,000 tons of dirt only to be recovered by another parking lot. And for this 50 acre site, the price tag is around $300 million dollars for the American tax payers. This type of “gold plated” clean up makes no sense.
We hear from some that the Superfund tax should be reinstated because EPA lacks funding for cleanups. First of all, this simply is not true. But how can this assertion even be made, when we hear of such outrageous spending with the money that they do have. Irresponsible spending at one site, like what I just described, only takes away valuable resources from other sites. That is why I am working with the Majority Leader Harry Reid on this issue and the two of us will be requesting the GAO to investigate just how the Federal Creosote Site literally grew into a money pit for the American taxpayers.
Some of my colleagues would like to see the Superfund corporate tax reinstated. I am strongly opposed to this tax as it is patently unfair. This tax does not distinguish a polluter from a company that is an environmental steward. In fact, when applied, this tax unfairly targeted the oil and chemical industries penalizing companies who had no contact with any Superfund site. The tax goes where the money is, NOT where the responsibility lies. This is not a targeted tax on polluters. This is an indiscriminate tax on business.
Supporters of this tax imply that if we do not reinstate the tax we will not have enough money to clean up sites. This is not true. There has NEVER been a correlation between the amount of money raised by the tax and the dollars spent on clean up. For example, in 1996 the tax fund was at its highest level, yet the amount spent by the Clinton Administration for Superfund clean up was at a 10 year low. While in 2004, the money spent by the Bush Administration was at a 10 year high, while the fund was at a low point.
I look forward to today’s hearing and hope that we discuss reasonable and fair reforms to the Superfund program.
October 18, 2007
Several Democratic Senators renewed their call for a federal Superfund tax during today's Environment & Public Works Subcommittee hearing "Oversight Hearing on the Federal Superfund Program's Activities to Protect Public Health."
There were calls to reinstate the Superfund tax because some believe the program is under funded.
FACT: "The Superfund budget is about 50% bigger than the budget for the Food Safety and Inspection Service, which protects the nation's meat, poultry, and egg products," noted Michael Steinberg of the Superfund Settlements Project at today's hearing.
Steinberg also noted that despite rhetoric to the contrary Superfund "has fundamentally achieved its objectives and accordingly has receded in the public focus. Today a general public recognition exists that at most sites, the actions that should be taken are being taken." (LINK)
EPW Ranking Member Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) explained how a reinstatement of a Superfund tax would be ‘patently unfair."
"This tax does not distinguish a polluter from a company that is an environmental steward. In fact, when applied, this tax unfairly targeted the oil and chemical industries penalizing companies who had no contact with any Superfund site. The tax goes where the money is, NOT where the responsibility lies. This is not a targeted tax on polluters. This is an indiscriminate tax on business," Inhofe said.
"Supporters of this tax imply that if we do not reinstate the tax we will not have enough money to clean up sites. This is not true. There has NEVER been a correlation between the amount of money raised by the tax and the dollars spent on clean up. For example, in 1996 the tax fund was at its highest level, yet the amount spent by the Clinton Administration for Superfund clean up was at a 10 year low. While in 2004, the money spent by the Bush Administration was at a 10 year high, while the fund was at a low point," Inhofe added.
October 17, 2007
Link to Editorial (Subscription Required)
If the Senate's new "renewable fuels" mandate becomes law, get ready for a giant slurping sound as Midwest water supplies are siphoned off to slake Big Ethanol...
Heavily subsidized and absurdly inefficient, corn-based ethanol has already driven up food prices. But the Senate's plan to increase production to 36 billion gallons by 2022, from less than seven billion today, will place even greater pressure on farm-belt aquifers.
Ethanol plants consume roughly four gallons of water to produce each gallon of fuel, but that's only a fraction of ethanol's total water habit. Cornell ecology professor David Pimentel says that when you count the water needed to grow the corn, one gallon of ethanol requires a staggering 1,700 gallons of H2O. Backers of the Senate bill say that less-thirsty technologies are just around the corner, which is what we've been hearing for years...
The political fights could get ugly, because plants tend to pop up near cities, not necessarily near the biggest water supplies. Ethanol needs a rail system to be distributed, and ethanol factories save money on boiler maintenance when they get the same kind of high-quality water that humans prefer. In states like Iowa, where ethanol plants are considered agricultural projects deserving of preferential treatment, ethanol can also muscle out other business uses.
Ethanol's big environmental footprint is not limited to water, because biofuels like ethanol are highly inefficient. In September, the Chairman of the OECD's Roundtable on Sustainable Development released a report entitled, "Biofuels: Is the Cure Worse than the Disease?" Authors Richard Doornbosch and Ronald Steenblik compared the power density of different energy sources, measured in energy production per unit of the earth's area. Oil -- because it requires only a narrow hole in the earth and is extracted as a highly concentrated form of energy -- is up to 1,000 times more efficient than solar energy, which requires large panels collecting a less-concentrated form of energy known as the midday sun.
But even solar power is roughly 10 times as efficient as biomass-derived fuels like ethanol. In other words, growing the corn to produce ethanol means clearing land and killing animals on a massive scale, or converting land from food production to fuel production...
Writing in Science magazine, Renton Righelato and Dominick Spracklen estimate that in order to replace just 10% of gasoline and diesel consumption, the U.S. would need to convert a full 43% of its cropland to ethanol production. The alternative approach -- clearing wilderness -- would mean more greenhouse gases in the atmosphere than simply sticking with gasoline, because the CO2-munching trees cut down to make way for King Ethanol absorb more emissions than ethanol saves.
We hope that House conferees, who did not include a new mandate in their energy bill, insist that any final bill is ethanol-free.
LONDON, Oct. 11 -- A British judge has ruled that Al Gore's Oscar-winning film on global warming, "An Inconvenient Truth," contains "nine errors."
High Court Judge Michael Burton, deciding a lawsuit that questioned the film's suitability for showing in British classrooms, said Wednesday that the movie builds a "powerful" case that global warming is caused by humans and that urgent means are needed to counter it.
But he also said Gore makes nine statements in the film that are not supported by current mainstream scientific consensus. Teachers, Burton concluded, could show the film but must alert students to what the judge called errors.
The judge said that, for instance, Gore's script implies that Greenland or West Antarctica might melt in the near future, creating a sea level rise of up to 20 feet that would cause devastation from San Francisco to the Netherlands to Bangladesh. The judge called this "distinctly alarmist" and said the consensus view is that, if indeed Greenland melted, it would release this amount of water, "but only after, and over, millennia."
Burton also said Gore contends that inhabitants of low-lying Pacific atolls have had to evacuate to New Zealand because of global warming. "But there is no such evidence of any such evacuation," the judge said.
Another error, according to the judge, is that Gore says "a new scientific study shows that for the first time they are finding polar bears that have actually drowned swimming long distances up to 60 miles to find ice." Burton said that perhaps in the future polar bears will drown "by regression of pack-ice" but that the only study found on drowned polar bears attributed four deaths to a storm.
The ruling comes amid speculation that Gore will win the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday for his work on global warming.
Kalee Kreider, a spokesman for Gore, said the former vice president is "gratified that the courts verified that the central argument of 'An Inconvenient Truth' is supported by the scientific community." She said that "of the thousands and thousands of facts presented in the film, the judge apparently took issue with a handful."
Kreider also said that Gore believes the film will educate a generation of young people about the "climate crisis" and that the "debate has shifted from 'Is the problem real?' to 'What can be done about it?' "
Burton's ruling said that there is "now common ground that it is not simply a science film -- although it is clear that it is based substantially on scientific research and opinion -- but that it is a political film, albeit of course not party political." Burton said Gore's errors "arise in the context of alarmism and exaggeration in support of his political thesis."
Global warming has been a particularly big issue in Britain, where Prime Minister Gordon Brown said he wants to make his country a world leader in limiting carbon emissions.
Earlier this year, British education officials began distributing DVDs of Gore's film to state schools as part of a package designed to educate 3 million secondary school students on climate change.
The lawsuit was brought by Stewart Dimmock, a local school official who has two sons in state schools, in an attempt to block the education department's program. He claimed the film was inaccurate, politically biased and "sentimental mush" and therefore unsuitable for schools.
Dimmock, who belongs to the tiny New Party, told reporters he was "elated" at the ruling. He said guidance and context that teachers now must give along with the film means that students will not be "indoctrinated with this political spin." But he said he was disappointed the film wasn't banned outright from schools.
A spokesman for the Department of Children, Schools and Families said the agency was "delighted" that students could continue to see Gore's film. It has noted that the judge did not disagree with the film's main point -- that man-made emissions of greenhouse gases are causing serious climate consequences.