Return to Transcripts main page

CNN Newsroom

Death Penalty for Child Rape?; Fate of 400-Plus Kids; Virginia Tech: A Year Later; President Bush on Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Aired April 16, 2008 - 14:00   ET


KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: Well, if you had to pick a song to welcome a pope to the White House, "The Battle Hymn of the Republic," well, it has it all and it says it all. "Happy Birthday" would have fit, too, and that, too -- well, the pope was serenaded, believe it or not.
He turns 81 on this first full day of his first papal visit to America. And as you may have seen live here on CNN, a record crowd of more than 13,000 guests and pass holders jammed the south lawn for ceremonies fit for a king.

Now, when it was his turn to speak, the guest of honor saluted the role of faith in American history.


POPE BENEDICT XVI: As I begin my visit to the United States, I express once more my gratitude for the invitation, my joy to be in your midst, and my fervent prayers that the almighty God will confirm (ph) this nation and this people in the ways of justice, prosperity and peace.

God bless America.


PHILLIPS: Now, it won't be a papal visit without the pope- mobile, right? Well, it carried Benedict back to the Vatican Embassy, and later this afternoon he will meet with American bishops at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception on the campus of Catholic University. He'll be a no-show though at the White House dinner that's in his honor.

DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Talk about a sunroof, Kyra. I was going to ask you if you got a ride in that.

PHILLIPS: They won't let any journalists in there. Really, I'm serious. Jeanne Meserve even asked if she can could have a picture in there, and they said, no, sorry, just on the outside.

LEMON: No pope-mobile. Well, you know. Someone said -- I said, "That pope-mobile, it's new and fancy." And they said, yes, it kind of looks like a Smart Car, doesn't it?

PHILLIPS: It does. And also, too, he's not going to the White House dinner. I could just see everybody arguing, who's going to say grace? Who's going to say the prayer?


PHILLIPS: They're just making it easy. He's not going to go to the dinner.

LEMON: Yes. They had that one guy who was -- you know, who did the great pope impersonation. So we've got to find one who can do Benedict XVI.

OK. We want to tell people, Kyra, where they can find more information about the pope.

If you'd like to know more about Pope Benedict's life or see pictures or videos from his trip to America, check out You can also send and share your iReports of the pope while he's here.

All that at

And we'll follow the pontiff, of course, throughout the week. You might want to mark your calendars for this. Mark this down.

We'll bring you live coverage of the papal mass at Yankee Stadium. That's Sunday, 2:00 p.m. Eastern, only here on CNN.

In other news, a seven-month moratorium on executions, it is over now that the Supreme Court has upheld using lethal injections. Critics claim the injections cause excruciating pain, but writing (ph) for the 7-2 majority, Chief Justice John Roberts declared that lethal injections are painless when properly administered.

The ruling came in a Kentucky case, but 34 other states also use lethal injections. And they suspended executions last September to wait for today's ruling.

PHILLIPS: Well, should the rape of a child be punishable by death? That very emotional question went before the Supreme Court this morning.

And CNN Justice Correspondent Kelli Arena takes a look at that case in question.


KELLI ARENA, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT (voice over): He's not a killer, but Patrick Kennedy was sentenced to die for his crime. The New Orleans native sits here on death row at Louisiana's maximum security prison.

Unlike the more than 3,000 inmates facing execution nationwide, Kennedy is unique. He's the first prisoners in decades to face death for a crime other than murder. Kennedy brutally raped a child in this house. The victim, his 8-year-old stepdaughter.

KATE BARTHOLOMEW, ORLEANS PARISH SEX CRIMES PROSECUTOR: In my opinion, the rape of a child is more heinous and more hideous than a homicide, because the child survives with what has happened.

ARENA: But death penalty opponents argue a death sentence could give attackers a reason to murder their victims.

JUDY BENITEZ, L.A. FOUNDATION AGAINST SEXUAL ASSAULTS: If they're going to face the death penalty for raping the child, why would they leave a living witness?

ARENA: Louisiana is the only state actively pursuing lethal injection for raping children. In 1977, the Supreme Court banned execution for rape, but Louisiana lawmakers said the ruling only applied when victims were adults. And in 1995, passed a law allowing execution for the rape of children under 12.

BILLY SOTHERN, ATTORNEY FOR CONVICTED RAPIST: When we look at unusualness, what it means to be cruel and unusual, this is exactly the kind of unusualness that raises these serious concerns about the constitutionality of Mr. Kennedy's death sentence.


PHILLIPS: All right. Let's get back to that ruling today. Any fallout?

ARENA: Well, that was the ruling on lethal injection, and the justices saying that it was an acceptable method for execution. Within hours of that ruling, Kyra, we heard from the state of Virginia, which said that it was lifting its temporary ban on executions.

As you know, there was a moratorium around the country. States just stopped executing inmates, waiting for the Supreme Court to finally rule.

PHILLIPS: So Virginia said, OK, we're in, once they heard the high court.

ARENA: And we do expect some other states to follow.

PHILLIPS: So there will be a domino effect?

ARENA: We expect that, yes.

PHILLIPS: OK. But is this a done deal?

ARENA: You know, it's never a done deal when it comes to the death penalty. And we spoke to some opponents right outside the court today who said, look, you know, people are saying that there's a whole lot of clarity on this issue now, there isn't.

This deals with Kentucky. There are some other states that have had some problems with executions, and we think that the methods used there are not acceptable. And so this is a battle we are going to continue to fight.

PHILLIPS: This is always such an emotional issue too, because there are such strong opinions on both sides.

ARENA: And ironic that this happens today, when the pope, one of the biggest opponents of the death penalty, visiting our country.

PHILLIPS: Everything falls into line that way, doesn't it? It's a political year, political decisions -- oh, and the pope happens to be in America.

ARENA: I planned it.

PHILLIPS: I figured that.

Kelli Arena, thanks so much.

ARENA: You're welcome.

LEMON: All right. Thank you, Kyra.

We're going to move on now and talk about the polygamy, that polygamy compound in Texas. We're expecting a news conference next hour on the 400-plus children seized in that polygamist ranch raid in Texas. And we're looking ahead to a marathon court hearing tomorrow to determine their fate.

CNN's Sean Callebs is in San Angelo, Texas, with the very latest.

We heard the press conference yesterday, Sean, where they talked about how they're caring for the children. And we hear there's going to be another press conference today.

Do we know what we expect to get out of that?

SEAN CALLEBS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A little breaking news, Don. We've just been told the news conference here in San Angelo, Child Protective Services, has been canceled. Very interesting. In fact, they canceled it about an hour before it was scheduled to begin.

Now, this comes after about 48 hours of one side says this, one side says this. Two very different opinions of exactly what went down at that sect are coming out and what has happened in the aftermath.

We know that the sect members have been highly critical of the state, especially Child Protective Services, saying that when authorities went in, they were very heavy handed to begin with, using even armored personnel carriers, law enforcement dressed in riot gear from head to toe, snipers poised in certain areas. The sect has come out and talked a great deal, because they are facing very serious allegations that could mean the permanent removal of all 416 children.

Larry King had an interview today with some of those wives. Listen to what they're saying about the very serious allegations that are being leveled.


LARRY KING, HOST, "LARRY KING LIVE": You never thought that a relationship between, say, older men and teenaged girls and younger were wrong?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I would not -- I would -- for my own daughter, I would advise her to wait until she was legal age. I would not want her to get married younger than that.

KING: But did you see others at the ranch getting married younger?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Not that I'm aware of.

KING: So you have never, to your knowledge, seen a younger girl marry an older person?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Not that I'm aware of.

KING: Marilyn, had you?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Not that I have ever seen.

KING: Esther, had you?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Not that I have ever seen.

KING: So all these stories are false, or just you haven't seen them?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I believe they are false.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I believe they are false.



CALLEBS: OK. Here are the pictures.

Now, these, we must point out, were taken by members of the sect. But look, you can see exactly what went down on that raid back on April 3rd. And this usually private entity has come out in a very public way over the past 48 hours. I had a chance to go into the compound, and I've got to tell you, Don, they answer many questions with questions.

You heard them talking to Larry just a moment ago -- "Not that I know of." I asked them about underage sex and the answer I got -- a response from is, "No one is forced to do anything."

Now, you talk about how unwieldy this whole court activity is going to be tomorrow, you're talking under state law, all 416 children. Each must have his or her own attorney.

The court is trying to find a way to accommodate all these attorneys. If they gave them just five hours each, you're talking about hours of opening statements.

We know that the children of the sect basically from birth have talked of distrust, fear outsiders, and there's concern that FLDS members have told children to use disinformation, to not tell caseworkers and attorneys the truth. So it's extremely confusing and it should be quite interesting to see how this unfolds tomorrow.

LEMON: It is extremely confusing. And again, real quickly before I ask you the question, you said no more press conference at 3:00, they're not going to do that. That was your breaking news, right?



CALLEBS: They have canceled the press conference. We're going to try and find out why.

LEMON: OK. And if we look at these pictures, I mean, it does appear -- obviously law enforcement doesn't know what they're going to -- they don't know what they're going to run across when they go into this facility. But it appears to be very heavy-handed. And so far everyone who is inside of this compound has denied anything illegal, and they have not found the alleged 16-year-old girl who said that she was sexually abused and there was sexual abuse going on.

CALLEBS: Right, whose phone call triggered it all.

LEMON: So then, one wonders, have these people's rights in any way been violated?

CALLEBS: Well, I think that's a very key question. But I also want to point out that what we've seen from inside that compound, the information they have released to the media, has been well orchestrated.

They took us to the center of the compound. We could look around and see, you know, amazing, large, single-dwellings homes, but they chose women who were going to speak to the media. So it's not as if we had our -- we could go anywhere and talk with whomever.

LEMON: Everybody, right.

CALLEBS: The people they wanted to talk were people that they brought forward. So it's very difficult to say, look, is this just a little bit of calculated information they want to get out?

And quickly, I want to point out that after they separated the mothers yesterday from children who were older than 5, and said you had to leave or go to a safe house, FLDS says all of those mothers, women went back to the ranch. However, Child Protective Service says no, there are six of those women in a safe house right now. So we're getting very conflicting information from both sides.


Find out about that press conference.

Sean Callebs, thank you very much. Nice reporting there.

And tonight on "LARRY KING LIVE," as you saw partially there in Sean's report, a man with 20 wives, 100 children, and a message for the Texas polygamist sect. Also, those wives will be on "LARRY KING LIVE" as well.

Larry King, tonight at 9:00 Eastern, only on CNN.

PHILLIPS: Straight ahead, the pope, the president, the pageantry. Benedict XVI celebrates America and his birthday. We'll show you a more personal glimpse into his life.

LEMON: Plus, terror filled the Virginia Tech campus. It was a year ago today. Tears and remembrance fill it today. Victims of a massacre kept alive in the minds and hearts of classmates.


LEMON: You know, it's hard to believe that it has been one year, but it is one year to the day. Students, faculty, anyone associated with Virginia Tech, is remembering the day that forever changed the school's history.

It is the one-year anniversary of the campus massacre, and many young people watched their friends gunned down and their classmates die, sadly. A year has barely eased the pain, the shock and the loss for the people who lived through it and chose to stay at Virginia Tech.

Take a look.



BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Erin Sheehan and 13 other Virginia Tech students were in their German class on the second floor of Norris Hall.

SHEEHAN: This group of windows was my classroom.

I remember we saw someone poke in the door twice.

KEILAR: It was a Seung-Hui Cho, a senior at Virginia Tech.

SHEEHAN: I heard a hammering noise. The thing that bothered me was that the hammering was going up and down the hall.

KEILAR: Cho shot Erin's professor first, then 12 of the 14 students in the class. Erin played dead.

SHEEHAN: I had to fight with myself to stop the instinct to scream.

KEILAR: Erin escaped without being shot. She and three other students barricading the door to stop Cho from returning. Moments later, Cho killed himself.

After a week or two, Erin was showing signs of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder -- nightmares and flashbacks. Unexpected noises now cause her heart to race.

SHEEHAN: People have no idea how much people running in flip- flops will actually sound like bullets to me.

KEILAR: Even the sound of boxes being stacked makes her nervous.

(on camera): you Just looked over a shoulder when you heard a noise. Is that...

SHEEHAN: Yes, that was bothering me again.

KEILAR (voice over): Erin now has to take tests in a quiet room alone. Earplugs help her study, sleeping medication helps at night. And she credits psychotherapy with making her PTSD more manageable.

This April day, Erin heads to class mindful of what took place exactly one year ago.

SHEEHAN: I wish this hadn't happened to anyone. But now that it has, I would like to think about it as something that I have grown from. You know, hopefully become a better person, hopefully appreciate my life more and understand how easily it could have been taken away.

KEILAR: On her way she passes Norris Hall. She glances at the building and she keeps on walking.

Brianna Keilar, CNN, Blacksburg, Virginia.


LEMON: And again, that was our Brianna Keilar with one person's amazing story of good fortune, survival, and facing the forces of a tremendous tragedy there.

Obviously many others did not survive. And this is the campus of Virginia Tech today. Everyone you see here is a survivor. If not of that deadly massacre last April, they survived a year of painful memories, crushing grief, and the uphill battle to move forward.

Amie Steele is with me now, and she's a senior at Virginia Tech. And she also edits the student newspaper.

And Amie, I was talking to you just before and you said the president of the university, it was a poignant moment when he gave the school motto to the students and challenged you guys to live up to everything in that motto.

AMIE STEELE, VIRGINIA TECH SENIOR: Yes. It was actually Governor Kaine, who's the Virginia State governor.

He gave a speech this morning at the memorial and essentially charged the students to use our school motto "That I May Serve" to honor the victims. He said, I think the most important part is that we aren't here necessarily to learn and to have fun while we're here, but to take what we're learning and move forward with it, and take what we have learned and serve other people. And help them. And he said to do that in honor of the victims.

LEMON: And Amie, this -- I mean, you know, people say obviously when you're in college that this is really some of the best times in your life, and you are dealing with this one year later. I imagine as the anniversary neared -- and I don't want to speak for you guys, but did you -- did you feel anxiety as that one-year anniversary neared as to how you were going to react, what you were going to do, how others were going to react to it?

STEELE: I definitely think there was a sense of anxiety. I think a lot of students were looking forward to it. Just to sort of have it over with and be done with it, and not have to worry about it anymore.

I think a lot of students felt, once we got through this, it's all downhill from here. This was sort of the last stepping stone we had in the grieving process, to overcome what we dealt with last year.

LEMON: As I introduced you, I said it's hard to believe it's been one year. It certainly doesn't feel that long, but over the course of this last year, is there -- what has stuck with you most about experience, anything you've written about, experiences from fellow students there? What stuck with you the most?

STEELE: I think the biggest thing to come out of this is the sense of community that we have here in Blacksburg and at Virginia Tech. That was one of the things that we were I guess complimented for last year, is taking something that was meant to tear people apart, and we came together as a community and overcame it. And I think that sense of community has become even more so now a year later.

So, you know, you think about 26,000 students -- we're all diverse, come from different backgrounds and have different interests, but we came together and overcame something. And I think the fact that young adults who don't necessarily have all of the knowledge and wisdom of our parents, you know, we came together and overcame it by ourselves.

LEMON: Amie Steele, thank you.

Amie edits the student newspaper at Virginia Tech.

Best of luck to you, Amie.

STEELE: Thank you.

PHILLIPS: Straight ahead, revelations about the pope. A Vatican journalist sheds new light on a scholar, a teacher and a reluctant pontiff.



LEMON: Very busy day here in the CNN NEWSROOM. We've live from Washington, D.C., and also here in Atlanta. The man at the center of a Las Vegas Ricin mystery has been charged with position of a biological toxin. 57-year-old Roger Bergendorff was arrested after two months of hospital treatment for ricin exposure. Authorities say Ricin and weapons were found in his Las Vegas motel room.

A second mistrial in the Liberty City terror case. Six residents of Miami's Liberty City neighborhood were charged with plotting attacks on FBI offices in Chicago's Sears Tower. Once again, the jury was deadlocked. No word on a possible third trial.

The Supreme Court today upheld using lethal injections to carry out the death penalty. By 7-2 majority, the court rejected claims that the three-drug process used in Kentucky and many other states is inhumane. The ruling effectively ends a seven-month moratorium on the procedure.

PHILLIPS: Well, Pope Benedict XVI is having downtime between his star spangled visit to the White House and a prayer service late this afternoon with American bishops. The White House hadn't welcomed a pope since John Paul II in 1979, and that was the first time ever. After the pageantry, well, Benedict and President Bush spoke in private, reportedly about Iraq, immigration, terrorism, human rights and the Middle East.

But if the president now has a pretty good rapport with the leader of the catholic church, lots of American Catholics don't feel like they really know him. Here's someone that does.

Delia Gallagher is a Vatican expert and journalist, and a former CNN colleague, it's so wonderful to see you again. I miss you. We've been talking about her place in Rome. I'm going to have to come visit now with your terracotta floors.


PHILLIPS: Now, you do know this pope well. And you've described him as very shy, and an intellect, and a scholar, yet I've even said to you, wait a minute, it doesn't make sense. Everyone calms him this Rottweiler of the Catholic church and this German Shepherd.

GALLAGHER: That's precisely his problem, because he came into this in 1978 when John Paul II was elected, and they came out and said, Habemos papam Karol Wojtyla, nobody knew who he was. When they came out and said, Habemos papam Joseph Ratzinger, half the people went, oh, and the other half said, yay.

So everybody had a pretty clear sort of idea about who he was, and now as Pope, both sides sort of conservative and liberal are having to sort of rethink that and say, who is this man as Pope? Is he slightly different from Cardinal Ratzinger, is he taking a broader view? Is he going more for the sort of global church?

I think he's been very surprising, he's been very interesting, not least of which has been this visit to the states, and how he opened that on the airplane. I think that was really indicative. I can hear them singing happy birthday. I want to just say this. I've been on a lot of visits. This was spectacular.


GALLAGHER: This was spectacular at the White House.

PHILLIPS: Why was this spectacular?

GALLAGHER: Because what you don't realize, you can't understand and a lot of Americans can't understand it, but in the rest of the world, things aren't as big, as well organized and just enthusiastic as an American audience can be. It's spectacular. I sat there thinking, I wonder if Joseph Ratzinger ever thought on his 81st birthday he'd be celebrating it at the White House.

PHILLIPS: At the White House, with thousands of people singing Happy Birthday.

GALLAGHER: It was unbelievable. I mean, it was spontaneous, the Happy Birthday, the first one.

PHILLIPS: Why do you think that is? Why do you think there has been this tremendous response, all these thousands of people?

GALLAGHER: Well, because Americans are like that. Americans are -- he said, we're a generous, religious country, the thing that he admires about our country is our religious diversity, and the fact we have this freedom.

PHILLIPS: That's why he loves the U.S. so much.

GALLAGHER: He's interested in this idea that in a Democracy you can have these -- I mean, think about all the other countries in the world, where there are problems of religious freedom. And so, I know that here we have lots of arguments with the Evangelicals, and Catholics, and Baptists and everybody else.

But the fact of the matter remains that we are all able to do our Sunday worship as we want, and come back on Monday and argue with each other on TV about what we think.

PHILLIPS: Well, and he's also made it very clear with that religious freedom right, you have to be responsible. He talks a lot --

GALLAGHER: That's the corollary of the freedom. That's what he said this morning. He said you have this freedom, and freedom has -- brings with it also responsibility. It's not just about rights, it's not what is my right, it's about what is my responsibility towards you, and so what is my responsibility towards this country in a civic way. He says we should have the courage to be involved in a civic way. And what is our responsibility on a global level to the less fortunate. That's a big issue for him. In fact, he said on the airplane that he was going to discuss with President Bush, in private, also the immigration question, and how we can help people in the countries that immigrate here, before they even have to immigrate to try to help them have better lives in those countries, economic development.

PHILLIPS: Speaking of taking responsibility, I mean, talk about the sex abuse scandal. He's taking responsibility for that right away. He's saying we are ashamed, not, they should be -- he's not pointing the fingers.

GALLAGHER: He said, you know, he didn't say those priests should be ashamed of themselves, he said, we are ashamed. Me, the Pope, me -- we the bishops, even we, the other American Catholics. I think there's a sense of kind of communion and community in the Catholic church that says we take responsibility. He said it, he's their leader. We take responsibility for this.

And he used the word ashamed, which I thought was really powerful, rather than just saying we are very sorry. I mean, there are a number of things, he could have said. And he said a shame just carries with it some kind of connotation of real consciousness, and continuing awareness that this is a wound in the Catholic church.

PHILLIPS: And, he's going to talk a lot more about it as well.

GALLAGHER: I think that that set the tone. He knows he's got to take care of that problem before anything else can happen in this American Catholic church.

PHILLIPS: Delia Gallagher, great to see you.

GALLAGHER: It's so nice to be here. Thank you.

PHILLIPS: All right. Don?

LEMON: All right, Kyra. Tell Delia I said hi. And, of course, when we visit Rome we're going to come to her nice pad and pay it a visit as well.

All right, let's talk now about the weather. A spring storm is headed for south east Colorado to the relief of firefighters. They're battling two major wildfires and 50 miles per hour winds. Three people have died, two near the city of Ordway. The entire town has been evacuated. More than 7,000 acres and about 20 buildings have burned.

In Ft. Carson, south of Colorado Springs, the pilot of an air tanker has been killed. The fire scorched at least 9,000 acres there. Colorado is not the only state under a red flag warning right now. There are other areas as well, and our Chad Myers is watching them. Chad, what are you looking at?


LEMON: All right, thank you, Chad.

PHILLIPS: Democratic presidential hopefuls Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama locked in a tight race as they head into the home stretch for next Tuesday's Pennsylvania primary. The latest CNN Poll of Polls gives Clinton a five-point edge over Obama among state Democrats, and we should note a portion of all these polls were taken before the weekend spat over Obama's use of the word bitter to describe people in parts of rural America.

It's their first debate in almost two months and it happens to be tonight in primetime. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama will square off in Philadelphia with just six days to go until the Pennsylvania primary.

Now, in the NEWSROOM next hour, two Democratic strategists will preview the debate, Julian Epstein, a Clinton supporter and Jamal Simmons who's backing Obama. They will tell us what their respective candidates need to do in tonight's showdown.

The boss has decided on a favorite presidential candidate. Rocker Bruce Springsteen has posted a letter on his Web site calling Barack Obama a man who, quote, "speaks to the America I've envisioned in my music for the past 35 years." Sprinsteen's last presidential endorsement, by the way, didn't work out so well. He endorsed John Kerry in 2004.

Democrat turned Independent Senator Joe Lieberman says that he hasn't been asked to speak at the Republican convention, but he says he would do it if it helps John McCain get elected. Lieberman has endorsed McCain and he confirms to CNN what he first told "The Hill" newspaper that if John McCain asks him, he would be willing to address GOP convention delegates.

All the latest campaign news is available at your fingertips, just go to We also have analysis from the best political team on television. That and more at

LEMON: All right, matters of life and death at the Supreme Court today. A closer look at two important cases.


PHILLIPS: Stories of survival amid chaos after a Congolese jetliner careened off a runway and slammed into a crowded shopping district. At least 40 people are reported dead, most of the victims were in the marketplace, and more than 100 others were hurt. Those numbers could go higher as rescuers dig through the smoldering wreckage. That plane crashed on take-off yesterday in the eastern city of Goma.

And among those on board, a family of four from southeastern Minnesota. The father talked to CNN early today about their frantic escape.


VOICE OF BARRY MOSIER, CONGO PLANE CRASH SURVIVOR: We took off and just before we were going to get airborne, we heard the front tire blow out on the plane, and the pilot tried to stop the plane as best he could, but it was impossible, due to the short runway. So, we crashed at the end of the runway into the market, and there was a fair amount -- we were just ahead of the wings, where we were sitting in the plane.

And my daughter went ahead, and I was helping my wife and three- year-old son try to make it, but there was -- the cabin was filled with smoke. There was fire on the outside of the plane, we could see the flames and we knew there was a fair amount of fuel, so we knew we had to get out immediately.

At that point, we just kept trying to get ahead, but my son got stuck in the avalanche of people trying to push ahead, and as we pulled him out, it broke his leg. But by God's grace and thanks to the many prayers of those who support us as missionaries over here in Africa.

We made it to the front of the plane where my daughter and another person had started punching a hole in the side of the plane where there was a crack, and by that time, they had opened the hole big enough that many of the passengers were able to escape the plane, which was ...


PHILLIPS: Miraculous is what that was. And everyone's talking about the shortened runway. It's been that way since lava from a volcanic eruption covered part of it in 2001.

LEMON: Want to get you now live to Washington. In the Rose Garden, President Bush making a speech on greenhouse gas emissions. He wants to try to curb that by 2025.

Let's take a listen.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: ...the only way to achieve these goals is through continued advances in technology.

So, we pursued a series of policies aimed at encouraging the rise of innovation, as well as more cost effective, clean energy technologies that can help America and developing nations, reduce greenhouse gases, reduce our dependence on oil and keep our economies vibrant and strong for the decades to come. I've put our nation on a path to slow, stop, and eventually reverse the growth of our greenhouse gas emissions.

In 2002, I announced our first step, to reduce America's greenhouse gas intensity by 18 percent through 2012. I'm pleased to say that we remain on track to meet this goal, even as our economy has grown 17 percent. As we take these steps here at home, we're also working internationally on a rational path to addressing global climate change. When I took office seven years ago, we faced a problem. A number of nations around the world were preparing to implement the flawed approach of Kyoto Protocol.

In 1997, the United States Senate took a look at the Kyoto approach and passed a resolution opposing the approach by 95-0 vote. The Kyoto Protocol would have required the United States to drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The impact of this agreement, however, would have been to limit our economic growth and to shift American jobs to other countries while allowing major developing nations to increase their emissions.

Countries like China and India are experiencing rapid economic growth, and that's good for their people, and it's good for the world. This also means they're emitting increasingly large quantities of greenhouse gases, which has consequences for the entire global climate.

So, the United States has launched and the G-8 has embraced a new process that brings together the countries responsible for most of the world's emissions. We're working toward a climate agreement that includes the meaningful participation of every major economy and gives none a free ride.

The support of this process and based on technology advances and strong new policy, it is now time for the United States to look beyond 2012 and to take the next step. We've shown that we can slow emissions growth.

Today, I'm announcing a new national goal: to stop the growth of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by 2025. To reach this goal, we'll pursue an economy-wide strategy that builds on the solid foundation that we have in place.

As part of this strategy, we'll work with Congress to pass energy legislation that specifies a new fuel economy standard of 35 miles per gallon by 2020. And requires fuel producers to supply at least 36 billion gallons of renewable fuel by 2022. This should provide incentive for shifting to a new generation of fuels, like cellulosic ethanol, that will reduce concerns about food prices and the environment.

Also mandated new objectives for the coming decade to increase the efficiency of lighting and appliances; helping states achieve their goals for increasing renewable power and building co-efficiency by sharing new technologies and providing tax incentives. We're working to implement a new international agreement that will accelerate cuts in potent HCFC emissions. Taken together, these landmark actions will prevent billions of metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions from entering the atmosphere.

These objectives are backed by a combination of the new market- based regulations, new government incentives and new funding for technology research. We provided billions of dollars for next generation nuclear energy technologies. Along with the private sector, we've invested billions more to research, develop and commercially deploy renewable fuels, hydrogen fuel cells, advanced batteries and other technologies to enable a new generation of vehicles and more reliable renewable power systems.

In 2009 alone, the government and the private sector plan to dedicate nearly a billion dollars to clean coal research and development. Our incentives for power production from wind and solar energy have helped to more than quadruple its use. We'll work with Congress to make available more than $40 billion in loan guarantees to support investments that will avoid, reduce or sequester greenhouse gas emissions or air pollutants. And our farmers can now compete for substantial new conservation incentives to restore land and forests in ways that help cut greenhouse gases.

We're doing a lot to protect this environment. We've laid a solid foundation for further progress. With these measures -- while these measures will bring us a long way to achieving our new goal, we've got to do more in the power generation sector. To reach our 2025 goal we'll need to more rapidly slow the growth of power sector greenhouse gas emissions, so they peak within 10 to 15 years and decline thereafter. By doing so, we'll reduce emission levels in the power sector well below where they were projected to be when we first announced our climate strategy in 2002.

There are a number of ways to achieve these reductions, but all responsible approaches depend on accelerating the development and deployment of new technologies. As we approach this challenge, we face a growing problem here at home. Some courts are taking laws written more than 30 years ago to primarily address local and regional environmental effects and applying them to global climate change.

Clean Air Act, the Endangered Species Act and the National Environmental Policy Act were never meant to regulate global climate. For example, under a Supreme Court decision last year, Clean Air Act could be applied to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles. Now, this would automatically trigger regulation under the Clean Air Act of greenhouse gases all across our economy, leading to what Energy and Commerce Committee chairman, John Dingell, last week called, "a glorious mess."

If these laws are stretched beyond their original intent, it could override the programs Congress just adopted and force the government to regulate more than power plant emissions. It would also force the government to regulate smaller users and producers of energy, from schools and stores to hospitals and apartment buildings. This would make the federal government act like a local planning and zoning board. It would have a crippling effect on our entire economy.

Citizens with such far reaching impact should not be left to unregulated regulators and judges. Such decisions should be open -- debated openly. Such decisions should be made by the elected representatives of the people they affect. American people deserve an honest assessment of the costs, benefits and feasibility of any proposed solution. This is the approach that Congress properly took last year on mandatory policies that will reduce emissions from cars and trucks and improve the efficiency of lighting and appliances. This year Congress will soon be considering additional legislation that will affect global climate change. I believe that congressional debates should be guided by certain core principles and a clear appreciation that there is a wrong way and a right way to approach reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Bad legislation would impose tremendous cost on our economy and on American families without accomplishing the important climate change goals we share.

The wrong way is to raise taxes, duplicate mandates, or demand sudden and drastic emissions cut that have no chance of being realized and every chance of hurting our economy.

The right way is to set realistic goals for reducing emissions consistent with advances in technology, while increasing our energy security and ensuring our economy can continue to prosper and grow.

The wrong way is to sharply increase gasoline prices, home heating bills for American families and the cost of energy for American businesses.

The right way is to adopt policies that spur investment in the new technologies needed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions more cost effectively in the longer term, without placing unreasonable burdens on American consumers and workers in the short term.

The wrong way is to jeopardize our energy and economic security by abandoning nuclear power in our nation's huge reserves of coal.

The right way is to promote more emission-free nuclear power and encourage the investments necessary to produce electricity from coal, without releasing carbon into the air.

The wrong way is to unilaterally impose regulatory cost that put American businesses at a disadvantage with their competitors abroad, which would simply drive American jobs overseas and increase emissions there.

The right way is to ensure that all major economies are bound to take action and to work cooperatively with our partners for a fair and effective international climate agreement.

The wrong way is to threaten punitive tariffs and protectioniist barriers, start a carbon base global trade war and to stifle the diffusion of new technologies.

The right way is to work to make advanced technology affordable and available in the developing world by lowering trade barriers, creating a global free market for clean energy technologies and enhancing international cooperation and technology investment.

We must all recognize that in the long run new technologies are the key to addressing climate change. The short run, they could be more expensive. And that is why I believe part of any solution means reforming today's complicated mix of incentives to make the commercialization and use of new lower emission technologies more competitive.

Today, we have different incentives for different technologies, from nuclear power to clean coal to wind and solar energy. What we need to do is consolidate them into a single expanded program with the following features. First, the incentive should be carbon weighted to make lower emission power sources less expensive relative to higher emission sources. And it should take into account our nation's energy security needs.

Second, the incentives should be technology neutral, because the government should not be picking winners and losers in this emerging market.

Third, the incentives should belong lasting. It should provide a positive and reliable market signal not only for investment in the technology, but also for the investments in domestic manufacturing capacity and infrastructure that will help lower costs and scale up availability.

Even with stronger incentives, many new technologies face regulatory and political barriers. To pave the way for a new generation of nuclear power plants we must provide greater certainty on issues from licensing to responsible management of spent fuel. Promise of carbon capture and storage depends on new pipelines and liability rules. Large scale renewable energy installations are most likely to be built in sparsely populated areas. This will require advanced inner state transmission systems to deliver this power to major population centers.

If we're serious about confronting climate change then we have to be serious about addressing these obstacles. If we fully implement our new strong laws, adhere to the principles I've outlined and adopt appropriate incentives, we will put America on an ambitious new track for greenhouse gas reductions. Growth in emissions will slow over the next decade, stop by 2025 and begin to reverse there after, so long as technology continues to advance.

Our new 2025 goal marks a major step forward in America's efforts to address climate change. Yet, even if we reduced our own emissions to zero tomorrow, we would not make a meaningful dent in solving the problem without concerted action by all major economies.

So, in connection with the major economies process we launched, we're urging each country to develop its own national goals and plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Like many other countries, America's national plan will be a comprehensive plan of market incentives and regulations to reduce emissions by encouraging clean and efficient energy technologies.

We're willing to include this plan in a binding international agreement, so long as our fellow major economies are prepared to include their plans in such an agreement. We recognize that different nations will design different strategies, with goals and policies that reflect their unique energy resources and economic circumstances. But we can only make progress if their plans will make a...

LEMON: President Bush in the Rose Garden delivering his speech this hour on his plan to battle climate change.

But you know what? His critics argue that it is too little, too late. What does all of this mean that the president is talking about, reducing our carbon footprint and greenhouse gas effects on the environment? We're going to check in with our Miles O'Brien in just a bit, and he is going to break it all down for us.

In the meantime, the next hour of the CNN NEWSROOM starts right now.