Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas), chairman of the House subcommittee with jurisdiction over legislation regulating carbon dioxide, was particularly outspoken. He made his vehement opposition known in person to Vice President Dick Cheney, Treasury Secretary Paul H. O'Neill and an array of other top administration officials.
Regulation Chances Appeared Dead
On Friday, he and GOP House leadership staffers met with administration officials, including Andrew Lundquist, chief of Bush's national energy policy development group. Their goal was to drive home the point that, even if Bush wanted to regulate carbon dioxide, he could not get legislation through Congress to do so.
Barton "was extremely firm" in refusing to allow legislation through his committee regulating carbon dioxide emissions, said Sa mantha Jordan, his spokeswoman.
The message was clearly getting through. The issue was the subject of a series of staff meetings during the last two weeks with participants from agencies including the State, Energy, Commerce and Treasury departments and the EPA.
On Friday, a staff recommendation was sent to the president, and over the weekend aides started drafting the letter Bush sent Tuesday to the four senators, said Dan Bartlett, deputy counselor to the president.
Personal Meeting With EPA Chief
Bush did not sign off on it until Tuesday morning, announcing his decision after a midmorning meeting on the budget in the Oval Office.
Bush met personally with Whitman about 10 a.m. Tuesday to tell her what he had decided.
On Wednesday, Bush told reporters that his decision was not in response to industry pressure.
"I was responding to reality," Bush said, commenting during a tour of an after-school mentoring program in Plainfield, N.J. "And reality is the nation has got a real problem when it comes to energy. We need more sources of energy. We need more power plants. We need more exploration for natural gas. And we need clean coal technology. I am concerned that if we don't act in a common-sense way that our people will not be able to heat and cool their homes."
In the aftermath of the announcement, the administration clearly was trying to counter the impression that Whitman had been undercut.
Her spokeswoman, Kreisher, said Whitman was not giving any interviews, and Kreisher restricted her comments to one sentence. Bartlett confirmed that Whitman and her top aides were fully involved in the process that overturned the policy. Whitman's earlier statements reflected the administration's position at the time, he added.
Times staff writer Edwin Chen contributed to this story.