A Bush-backing Houstonian goes green?

Former Secretary of State James Baker now says the U.S. should actually do something about global warming.

By Katharine Mieszkowski
Published March 8, 2005 12:45AM (EST)

Hell hasn't frozen over. It's melted.

Former Secretary of State James Baker believes the U.S. should actually do something about global warming, and he declared this in Houston last week before an audience that included local oilmen.

Baker, who served under President George H. W. Bush, and helped George W. seal the 2000 election, told the members of the Houston Forum Club last Thursday that an "orderly" change to alternative energy is needed, Reuters reported.

"It may surprise you a little bit, but maybe it's because I'm a hunter and a fisherman, but I think we need to a pay a little more attention to what we need to do to protect our environment. When you have energy companies like Shell and British Petroleum, both of which are perhaps represented in this room, saying there is a problem with excess carbon dioxide emission, I think we ought to listen," Baker said.

But before anyone starts celebrating Baker as a closet greenie, he also noted that he "agreed with the decision not to join Kyoto, calling it 'a lousy treaty' because it did not include China and India." Still, his comments were enough for Reuters to declare that he "broke ranks" with the Bush Administration.

Maybe Baker, who will turn 75 soon, is getting all reflective about the need to save the earth now that he'll be retiring next month from the Carlyle Group -- which has major investments in oil and gas.

Katharine Mieszkowski

Katharine Mieszkowski is a senior writer for Salon.

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