Most Recent Action    Current Congress     Background   Hill Briefings 

Summary of Hearings on Global Climate Change (10-6-00)

  • Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, September 21, 2000: Hearing on Solutions to Climate Change
  • Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, July 18, 2000: Hearing on the recent National Assessment of Climate Change
  • Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, May 17, 2000: Hearing on the Science Behind Global Warming
  • Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Hearing, March 30, 2000: Hearing on:  S.  882, Energy and Climate Policy Act of 1999, and S. 1776. the Climate Change Energy Policy Response Act
  • House Government Reform Subcommittee on National Economic Growth, Natural Resources, and Regulatory Affairs and House Science Subcommittee on Energy and Environment, October 6, 1999: Joint Hearing on is CO2 a Pollutant and Does EPA Have the Power to Regulate It?
  • Senate Subcommittee on Forests and Public Land Management, September 30, 1999:  Hearing on S. 1457, the Forest Resources for the Environment and Economy Act
  • House Subcommittee on National Economic Growth Natural Resources, and Regulatory Affairs, July 15, 1999: Credit for Early Action: Win-Win of Kyoto Through the Front Door?
  • Senate Subcommittee on Energy Research, Development, Production, and Regulation and House Subcommittee on National Economic Growth, Natural Resources, and Regulatory Affairs, May 20, 1999: Joint Hearing on Global Climate Change: Administration Compliance with Recent Statutory Requirements
  • Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, March 24, 1999: Hearing on Voluntary Activities to Reduce the Emission of Greenhouse Gases

  • Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee
    Hearing on Solutions for Climate Change
    September 21, 2000

    The Bottom Line
    Following up on a promise made during his run for president, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) has held a series of climate change hearings as chairman of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee. The latest of these, held on September 21st, looked primarily at what actions and approaches companies and groups can take voluntarily to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions.  Links to a PDF version of the senator's opening statement and witness testimony is available on the Senate Commerce Committee webiste.

    Hearing Summary
    Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) opened the third hearing in a series on climate change by stating that he hoped this one would help educate Congress on the issue of private-sector actions taken voluntarily to help curb greenhouse gas emissions. He continued by saying that in many ways industry has done more on a voluntary basis than Congress on the issue, but -- no matter what action the Congress takes on implementing emission controls -- "the Federal government will continue to support scientific research concerning climate change."  In closing his statement, McCain talked about legislation he plans to introduce in the near future to help separate the "mixing of politics and science" by "proposing an International commission of scientists to study climate change and to provide unbiased, sound scientific analysis to anyone in search of the facts on global warming."

    Witnesses
    The Honorable Dianne Feinstein, United States Senator, California
    Ms. Ann Mesnikoff, Washington Representative, Sierra Club, Global Warming and Energy Program
    Mr. Jeff Morgheim, Climate Change Manager, BP
    Mr. Frederick D. Palmer, General Manager and Chief Executive Officer, Western Fuels Association, Inc.
    Dr. Joseph Romm, Director, Center for Energy and Climate Solutions
    Dr. Norman Rosenberg, Senior Staff Scientist, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

    Testimony from Senator Feinstein (D-CA) and Ann Mesnikoff focused primarily on the environmental benefits of raising the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standard for cars and light trucks.  Mesnikoff stated that "the biggest simple step we can take to curb global warming is to make our cars and sport utilities go further on a gallon of gas by raising CAFE standard to 45 mpg for cars and 34 mpg for light trucks."  A topic of discussion for both women was the sports utilities vehicle (SUV) loophole that allows SUVs, which are used primarily as passenger vehicles, to be exempt from the same standard as other passenger vehicles.  According to Feinstein, "CAFE standards for cars have not increased in 14 years and the truck standards have essentially stayed the same since 1981 but since many consumers have traded in their cars for SUVs, overall vehicular carbon dioxide emissions have begun to increase significantly."

    Jeff Morgheim talked about the actions that BP (formally BPAmoco) has taken to curb greenhouse gas emissions across the entire company.  The BP program is a global emissions trading system that covers the company's business units in over 100 countries.  BP launched a pilot system in September 1998 and on January 1, 2000 began the company-wide trading system.  "Every year, BP sets a target for greenhouse gas emissions stated in carbon dioxide equivalent terms.  BP then allocates its target to every business unit in the form of permits.  One permit is equal to one ton of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions. . . . Each business unit then decides if it is more economical for them to live within their permit level, to invest in reductions below their permit level and sell the additional reductions to other business units, or to exceed their permit level, provided they have bought permits resulting from reductions at another business unit."

    Rosenberg discussed the role of carbon sequestration in balancing emissions with removal of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.  He said that despite the potential, sequestration faces difficulties, especially in quantifying efforts and results.  Romm and Palmer gave differing views on the role of the current information technology based economy in future energy needs of the nation.  Romm described "how the Internet appears to be dramatically reducing the amount of energy America needs to propel its economy, and how U.S. companies are increasingly using the explosive growth in information and energy technology to slash both energy use and emissions of greenhouse gases and other pollutants, all white bolstering their bottom line."  Palmer claims that quite the opposite is occurring, the new economy is using an increasing amount of energy.  The practice of focusing federal and state funding on conservation and renewable energy sources that are not price competitive have produced a limiting factor to growth.  He continued by saying that we will continue to be dependent on the fossil fuels, which should not be considered all bad because increased carbon dioxide is good for agriculture.  "[T]he agenda of those who want to 'do something' about CO2 is one that comes in conflict with the full utilization of our nation's coal-fired electricity generating base and the installation of new clean coal technology that holds much promise for our future."


    Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee
    Hearing on the recent National Assessment of Climate Change
    July 18, 2000

    The Bottom Line
    With the public comment window for the U.S. Global Change Research Program's (USGCRP) recent National Assessment on Climate Change set to close August 11th, Sen. John McCain's (R-AZ) hearing was meant to provide a timely forum in which to discuss the assessment's conclusions.  Even though the hearing was cut short by a series of Senate votes, it still provided the assessment's principal authors a chance to expound upon their work before a packed hearing room.  While these and other witnesses supported the assessment's findings, others contested them in their testimony.

    Hearing Summary
    In his opening statement, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) noted that the whole climate change issue is "very serious business with real impacts to the American economy and the lives and well being of our citizens."  Although the USGCRP's National Assessment raises many issues, McCain hoped that the witnesses would focus on whether any reconciliation is possible between the two climate models employed in the assessment, why federally-funded U.S. models were not used in the study, and how ocean dynamics factors into the report's analyses.

    Although Sen. Larry Craig (R-ID) was not present at the hearing, he submitted a written statement on the assessment.  In it, he criticized the Clinton Administration for releasing the synthesis before the underlying sector  reports were completed.  "The premature release of this document allows for more polarizing advocacy," he said.  It also "raises more intriguing political questions than helpful probative scientific ones."  Craig pointed out that the assessment's June release may permit its inclusion in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's Third Assessment Report and serve "as support for campaign claims by Al Gore to support his views on climate and energy use." Like McCain, Craig also wondered why the National Assessment relied on foreign climate models when domestic models are presently available.

    Panel I
    Mr. Thomas Karl, Director of the National Environmental Satellite Data and Information Service's National Climatic Data Center, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
    Dr. Anthony C. Janetos, Senior Vice President for Program, World Resources Institute
    Dr. Raymond Schmitt, Senior Scientist, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
    Dr. Fred Singer, Professor Emeritus of Environmental Sciences, University of Virginia, and former Director, U.S. Weather Satellite Service

    Co-chairs of the National Assessment Synthesis Team, Dr. Anthony Janetos and Thomas Karl tried to paint a complete picture of the assessment through their testimony.  Karl summarized the report's findings for each region of the country, noting that the assessment's forecast temperature increases are truly "unprecedented;" while Janetos defended the assessment process itself.  Janetos noted that the report was called for in the USGCRP's founding legislation and that it has, and will continue to be, open to public comment.  Experts from a wide range of academic disciplines collaborated on the National Assessment, which includes both a scientific, foundation volume and a general overview.

    Calling the National Assessment report "a good faith effort to assess the effects of global warming on U.S. climate," Dr. Raymond Schmitt explained that the report's varied predictions are to be expected given our limited understanding of the interplay between oceans and climate.  Current climate models simply fail to adequately account for the ocean, especially its enormous heat-carrying capacity.  In his testimony, Dr. Schmitt also outlined some of the other ways in which oceans shape climate, including thermohaline circulation.  He said that more fundamental research on the ocean's role in climate should accompany a global ocean observing system if we are to grow in our understanding of climate change.

    Dr. Fred Singer disagreed with all three witnesses, maintaining that no appreciable climate warming is occurring today.  Ice cores, in fact, show no warming since 1940.  Moreover, no atmospheric warming has occurred in the last 20 years.  Sea-level rise, Singer maintained, has been occurring for the past 15,000 years.  The West Antarctic Ice Sheet is melting now at the rate of 7 inches per century and it will continue to do so for the next 6,000 years as long as the planet does not enter another ice age.  While Singer contended that global circulation models cannot resolve regional temperature changes, a point on which most of the witnesses were in agreement, his conclusion that science is at odds with the National Assessment was not shared by the other panelists.

    During the question and answer period, Dr. Schmitt described how warmer oceans effect marine ecosystems like cod and coral.  Dr. Janetos also responded to a recent Science article that disparages the National Assessment's models, indicating that one cannot place unequivocal faith in their prognostications.  Karl spent most of the time addressing Dr. Singer's remarks, asserting that Singer is at odds with science.  Citing evidence from record-low ice extent in the Arctic to reduced snow cover in the Northern Hemisphere, Karl stated that evidence abounds for a warming earth.

    Panel II
    Dr. Jerry Melillo, Co-Director, Ecosystems Center, Marine Biological Laboratory
    Dr. Robert Mendelsohn, Edwin Weyerhauser Davis Professor, School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, Yale University
    Dr. Peter B. Rhines, Professor of Oceanography and Atmospheric Sciences, University of Washington

    The second panel was unable to give oral testimony because the hearing was cut short. Dr. Robert Mendelsohn and Dr. Peter Rhines provided written testimony for the record.  Dr. Rhines echoed Dr. Schmitt's earlier comments, reiterating that "the ocean plays a particularly interesting role in climate."  Dr. Rhines then provided an overview of how oceans affect climate in which he addressed the human price of such changes.  Dr. Mendelsohn disagreed with the National Assessment's rather negative tone in his statement, finding instead that "climate change is likely to result in small net benefits for the United States over the next century," especially for agriculture.  "The focus of mitigation policy should remain on inexpensive ways to control global emissions over the next century," he said, for only significant warming (greater than 4 degrees Celsius) by 2100 is likely to be harmful.


    Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee Hearing
    Hearing on the Science Behind Global Warming
    May 17, 2000

    The Bottom Line
    A May 17th Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee chaired by Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), focused on the scientific facts behind global climate change.  Witnesses consisted of several experts on climate and atmospheric science involved with the administration, federal agencies, and academic and international research institutions.  While the expert testimony covered several different themes within climate change science, a few key issues were stressed by all of the witnesses as conventional wisdom accepted by an overwhelming majority of the scientific community.

    Members Present
    Chairman John McCain (R-AZ)
    Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS)
    Sen. John F. Kerry (D-MA)

    In his opening statement, McCain noted that he held the hearing as part of a promise that he made during his presidential campaign.  He said that at "town-hall meeting after town-hall meeting," younger Americans asked him what his plan was to stop global warming.  McCain admitted that he, and many of his congressional colleagues, are not sufficiently informed to discuss this topic.  He said that he "intends to become informed and to make recommendations or non-recommendations" to address this issue.

    While the hearing room was packed with federal agency officials, Hill staffers, representatives from special interest groups, and press, only two other senators attended the hearing:  Sen. John F. Kerry (D-MA) and Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS).

    Sen. Kerry expressed his deep concern with the possibility of global warming.  He discussed his frustration with the United States' hesitance to create mandatory emissions-reducing regulations in line with the Kyoto Protocol, and noted that anti-environmental riders attached to past appropriations bills have "stifled U.S. efforts to reach bi-partisan goals with developing countries" and have had "a chilling effect on international research activities."  Sen. Brownback expressed interest in how, and to what degree, agriculture could play a role in the reduction of global warming.  Brownback recently introduced S. 2540, which would provide funding for research and activities dealing with carbon sequestration in soils.

    Witnesses included the president's science advisor and a number of experts on climate and atmospheric science from federal agencies, academic institutions, and international bodies.

    Panel 1
    Dr. Neal Lane, Assistant to the President for Science and Technology Policy

    Panel 2
    Dr. Ray Bradley, Department Chair, Department of Geosciences, University of Massachusetts and Director of the Climate System Research Center
    Dr. Jerry Mahlman, Director of NOAA's Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory
    Dr. Kevin Trenberth, Director of NCAR's Climate Analysis Section
    Dr. John Christy, Director of the Earth Systems Center at the University of Alabama, Huntsville
    Dr. Robert Watson, Chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

    While the expert testimony covered several different themes within climate change science, a few key issues were stressed by all of the witnesses as conventional wisdom accepted by an overwhelming majority of the scientific community.  All witnesses agreed that the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere has been drastically increasing by human activity since the turn of the 20th century and some stated that it is now the highest that it has been in at least 420,000 years.  They also agreed that the surface temperature of the earth has rapidly increased in the past 100 years, especially since the late 1970s.  Most witnesses stated that the three warmest years in the past 100 years occurred after 1990, and that 1998 was the warmest year in the last 1,000 years.  Evidence cited for recent global warming included:

    Several of the witnesses noted that, independent of other factors, the Earth's climate would begin to warm as the concentration of greenhouse gases increased.

    All of the expert witnesses agreed that there are several factors on which the scientific community has not come to a consensus, including:

    Dr. Neal Lane, President Clinton's science advisor, discussed new directions that the U.S. Global Change Research Program is taking to address the issues listed above.  The 1999 NRC report titled Global Environmental Change:  Research Pathways for the Next Decade was drafted at the USGCRP's request  --  as a way to take stock of what has been accomplished by the program and what new challenges may be arising.  Two new administration initiatives were born from this report:  the Carbon Cycle Science Initiative, and an initiative emphasizing water cycle research.  The first National Assessment of the Potential Consequences of Climate Change and Variability for the U.S. is currently being released in several sections and is now available for public comment.

    Dr. Ray Bradley used the "hockey stick diagram," a paleotemperature reconstruction of the last 1,000 years (see M.E. Mann, R.S. Bradley and M.K. Hughes:  Geophysical Research Letters, v. 26, p. 759-762), to show a strong shift from a slight millennial cooling trend (the "little ice age") to rapid warming in the early 20th century.  Bradley noted that past climatic fluctuations were dictated by solar irradiance, volcanic eruptions and orbital variations.  With the increase in greenhouse gases, Bradley said, the natural effects were overwhelmed by human-induced global warming in the early 1900s.  Bradley, and many of the other witnesses, noted that if the global temperature continues to increase as predicted by IPCC models, it will be much warmer than it has been in the last 1000 years and the rate of temperature increase will be faster than ever.

    Dr. Jerry Mahlman, who participated in a USGCRP briefing on Capitol Hill in November, presented an evaluation of current theories and models in terms of betting odds.  Along with stressing the certainty that surface temperatures are rising and CO2 levels are increasing, Mahlman speculated about climatic side-effects that might occur as a result of warming  He noted that an increase in the summertime heat index, a rise in global sea level, and the dissipation of arctic sea ice are all events that will probably happen (9-10 odds) as a result of increased temperatures.  He said that while it is probable (2-3 odds) that mid-latitude dryness and increased severe weather will result from climate change, there is still uncertainty about what the global and regional distribution of changes will look like.

    Dr. Kevin Trenberth and Dr. John Christy, both members of the panel that drafted the NRC report, Reconciling Observations of Global Temperature Change, gave their opinions on the outcome of the paperTrenberth noted that all of the temperature records have been improved in recent years.  According to the NRC report, while warming trends in the satellite data are significantly less than those in the surface temperature data, they do not invalidate each other.  Several physical factors are believed to cause differences between surface temperature and satellite measurements, including:

    Christy opened by stating that he considers himself the most skeptical of the group, but said that he is "not agnostic."  He pointed out that while surface temperatures have risen .45 to .65 degrees F in the past two decades, satellite data shows only a rise of .09 to .18 degrees F.  He explained that most climate models predict a rise in temperature with altitude, but that "the exact opposite is happening."  Christy also said that models are not currently able to reproduce regional temperature trends, pointing out that the recent cooling in the southeast has not been reconstructed by models.  According to Christy, the models may be able to reproduce global temperatures and some regional trends, but they still do not provide accurate information for many areas.

    Dr. Robert Watson, who chairs the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, drew a parallel between the evolution of modern human society and relatively stable climatic activity.  He also noted that the recent changes in temperature and CO2 concentrations, as well as those predicted by current models, is larger and faster than anything that has taken place over the last 10,000 years.  He continued by making recommendations about how society might reduce emissions and enhance carbon sinks.  Watson said that reduced emissions goals can be achieved through utilizing technology and policy measures that encourage technological advances in the energy, agriculture and forestry sectors.

    During the question and answer session, Christy and Mahlman disagreed on the cause of disparity between surface temperature and satellite data.  Mahlman stated that reduced ozone creates cooling in the stratosphere that causes decreased warming in the adjacent troposphere, where satellite observations are made.  Christy noted that the largest difference between the two data sets is in the tropics, where there is no major depletion of the ozone layer.  They both agreed that research efforts are suffering from the lack of consistent 3-dimensional atmospheric measuring systems.  Christy also clashed with Bradley about the validity of the data sets used to create the "hockey stick" paleotemperature curve.

    When McCain asked why there was not more concern about the current state of the climate, especially since there seemed to be a strong consensus on rising temperatures, the witnesses agreed that because the full effects of climate change are not understood, and because most nation's economies are driven by the very cause of the problem (greenhouse gas emissions from the burning of fossil fuels), many people are slow to address the issue.  Christy noted that the southeastern part of the country has been cooling for the last 5 years, causing people to have a hard time identifying with the concept of global warming.  Christy also noted that energy cost increases are resisted because cheaper energy means longer and better lives.  Watson and Christy both agreed that education of women in developing countries, to curb the population growth problem, is also key in solving many of the world's problems.

    When asked about what types of policies should be implemented in light of current scientific knowledge, Christy said that more research should be funded to study cheap and affordable energy sources.  Sen. Kerry then asked the panel why certain scientists were so skeptical about global warming.  Watson stressed that a very small minority of the scientists that participated in the drafting of the recent IPCC report were skeptics.  Trenberth commented that skeptics often brought politics into the judgment instead of dealing only with the science.  When Sen. Kerry commented that the fossil fuels industry seems to be encouraging skeptics of global warming, Mahlman responded that there are both contrarians and exaggerators with agendas independent of science.

    Most of the witnesses noted that while implementation of the Kyoto Protocol would not produce results that would significantly affect the future of the earth's climate, it would be a first step towards policies that would.  Mahlman noted that the best it would do would be to produce a small decrease in the increase of greenhouse gas concentrations.  Bradley agreed:  "Kyoto is the first rung of a long ladder."  Trenberth noted that the protocol is flawed because it does not require global compliance, and that it would mainly buy time for further research.  Watson said that it would be the first step toward reaching the goals of the 1992 Rio de Janeiro Convention and that it would spur a technological transfer towards energy efficiency and conservation.


    Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Hearing:
    Hearing on S.  882, the Energy and Climate Policy Act of 1999, and S. 1776,
    the Climate Change Energy Policy Response Act
    March 30, 2000

    The Bottom Line
    The main point of this hearing was for Senators Craig (R-ID) and Murkowski (R-AK) to get feedback from the administration on their bills, S. 1776 and S. 882 respectively.  In general, the witnesses representing the administration noted that S. 1776, which would restructure the federal research program for global change, is unnecessary.  They did, however, mention several ways that the U.S. Global Change Research Program could be improved, and also commented on the Voluntary Reporting of Greenhouse Gas Emissions Program.

    Members Present
    Chairman Frank Murkowski (R-AK)
    Sen. Larry Craig (R-ID)
    Sen. Craig Thomas (R-WY)
    Sen. Peter Fitzgerald (R-IL)
    Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE)
    Ranking Member Jeff Bingaman (D-NM)
    Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-AR)

     

    In his opening statement, Committee Chairman Frank Murkowski (R-AK) noted that he considers the climate change threat a real one, and that it should be addressed through investments in energy technology.  According to a press release from Murkowski's office, S. 882 would do three things to address the issue:

    Murkowski also expressed his support for S. 1776, recently introduced by Sen. Larry Craig (R-ID).  S. 1776 would further change the voluntary reduction program, and would make the Department of Energy the head agency for climate change research.

    Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), the Ranking Member of the committee agreed that climate change was an issue that needed to be focused on, and expressed his support for Clinton's climate change initiative that includes collaboration between the government and the private sector.  While Bingaman noted that S. 882 might be a starting point for future, more comprehensive legislation, he said that S. 1776 only redelegates authority that already exists and stressed the need to better enforce existing mandates instead of passing overlapping legislation.

    Craig stressed the importance for coordination between agencies, and said that S. 1776 brings the programs together into a more manageable form.  He stressed the need for more research on climate change and how it relates to energy policy, and noted that the U.S. could generate the basic technology that could "save the globe."

    Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE), co-sponsor of S. 882, testified before the committee, stating that he supports both bills as a responsible approach to climate change that is in sharp contrast to implementation of the Kyoto Protocol.  Hagel suggested that any action regarding this issue much be based on sound science, common sense, and technological abilities.  He said that there is no proof that any changes in the Earth's climate are anthropogenic, and went further by saying that there have been no changes in the temperature at the Earth's surface in the last 30 years.  Hagel noted that S. 1776 requires a cost-benefit analysis of the Kyoto Protocol, which he feels is long overdue from the Clinton Administration.

    Panel I

    Dr. Mark Mazur, Director of the Office of Policy in the DOE, was the first witnesses.  He noted that the Administration does not support either S. 882 or S. 1776.  In his written statement, that can be found on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources webpage,  Mazur noted that S. 1776 states that "the United States lacks the capabilities to perform modeling simulations and experiments," and that "the public's right to know and to be fully informed of all aspects of climate change is not being fully satisfied."  He said that this language quotes a recent NRC report out of context.  Mazur noted that the bill would give the DOE all of the responsibility for coordinating climate change research performed by the government, but prohibits staff increases that would be necessary for the job to be performed effectively.

    Dr. Jay Hakes, from the Energy Information Administration, discussed how the bills would affect the current Voluntary Reporting of Greenhouse Gases Program.  He outlines some problems that might be faced when attempting to expand the program, including whether to use a hypothetical baseline (which shows predicted emissions without reduction programs) when modeling reductions in emissions, or a constant "historical" baseline.  Hakes written testimony, which can be found on the EIA webpage, describes in detail the implications that S. 882 and S. 1776, and how some of the bills' objectives might be accomplished.  Some of these objectives include:

    Margaret Leinen, the third witness in Panel I, spoke in support of the U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP), noting that it is an important and effective science program.  She said that S. 1776 does not acknowledge that the USGCRP exists, and gives the DOE authority that was delegated to the USGCRP by the Global Change Research Act of 1990.  She emphasized that fact that the USGCRP clearly distinguishes between scientific research  and policy development in accordance with the 1990 law.  Leinen noted that centralizing the program within the DOE might cause that line to be breached.  Leinen also had a problem with the reporting requirements that S. 1776 requires, noting that the USGCRP submits an annual report to Congress that is made available to the public as well.  Requiring the listing of proposal that are not funded and the names of reviewers would, according to Leinen, "render it extremely difficult, if not impossible, to carry out the thorough and frank review process."

    Joe Friday, a representative of the NRC panel that recently came out with Global Environmental Change:  Research Pathways for the Next Decade,  discussed how the USGCRP might be improved.  Friday stressed the need for reassessment of the program's research priorities and resource allocations.  He also said that there needed to be a more comprehensive program for climate observations.  Friday noted that the U.S. is not longer leading the world in the development of global climate models, and that more resources need to be applied to advanced computing machines.  Friday closed by explaining that a recent NRC panel concluded that the surface warming trend is real, and that the disparity between the surface and satellite records does not invalidate the concern that the surface temperature of the earth is rising.  He later noted, during a question and answer session, that "the jury is still out" on where humans are the main cause of the recent warming.

    Questions from the committee members covered a wide range of issues.  Sen. Craig was interested in how the USGCRP coordinates between all of the different agencies involved, noting that S. 1776 is an attempt to create collaboration.  Bingaman had many questions regarding the value and effectiveness of the Voluntary Reporting Program.  Hakes and Mazur both noted that while the current program could be more comprehensive, it is helping them learn how to measure greenhouse gas emissions.

    Written testimony from Panel one and the second Panel, which consisted of representatives from the private sector, environmental community, and several non-profit organizations, can be found on the committee webpage.


    House Government Reform Committee, Subcommittee on National Economic Growth, Natural Resources, and Regulatory Affairs and House Science Committee, Energy and Environment Subcommittee
    Joint Hearing on Is CO2 a Pollutant and Does EPA Have the Power to Regulate It?
    October 6, 1999

    The Bottom Line
    This hearing was organized by Rep. McIntosh (R-IN) to answer two questions:  1)  Does EPA have that power to regulate CO2 through the Clean Air Act? and  2)  Is CO2 a pollutant anyway?  The first panel, made up of a representative from the EPA and three attorneys, was split on the issue of EPA authority to regulate CO2 emissions.  The second panel  --   which consisted of scientists whose research involves the effects of CO2 on plant growth and atmospheric change  --  expressed varying opinions about how increased atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration would affect Earth's climate, plant growth, and ecosystems.

    Members Present
    Subcommittee on National Economic Growth, Natural Resources, and Regulatory Affairs
    Chairman David McIntosh (R-IN)
    Rep. Bob Barr (R-GA)
    Ranking Member Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH)

    Subcommittee on Energy and Environment
    Chairman Ken Calvert (R-CA)
    Rep. Vernon Ehlers (R-MI)
    Ranking Member Rep. Jerry Costello (C-IL)

    Chairman David McIntosh (R-IN) called the hearing to order and opened by stating that the hearing would address issues that "go to the heart of the debate on the Kyoto Protocol and the Administration's climate change policies."  He questioned the Kyoto protocol statement and the Clinton Administration's stance that CO2 is a pollutant, saying that CO2 is instead "a clear, odorless gas and the fundamental nutrient of the planetary food chain."  He noted the error associated with General Circulation Models (GMCs) used to model global climate change, and then emphasized the fundamental fact that CO2 is necessary for plant growth and survival  --  "Does the balance of scientific evidence suggest that CO2 emissions are endangering public health, welfare, and the environment?  Or, does it suggest that such emissions are "greening" the planet, enhancing global food security and biodiversity?"  Next, Rep. McIntosh questioned EPA's claim of power to regulate CO2 emissions under the Clean Air Act, noting that the Cannon Memorandum, which is the basis of EPA's claims, "was  --  and remains  --  controversial."  He questioned whether CAA expressively confers "on EPA the power to regulate CO2" and later stated that CO2 does not fit into any of the regulatory programs established by the CAA.  He closed by suggesting that the interpretation that legislative history supports EPA's claims "is tantamount to saying that EPA has whatever authority Congress does not expressly withhold  --  and this is turning the central principle of administrative law on its head."

    Chairman Ken Calvert (R-CA) concurred with McIntosh on several issues, and stated that past hearings on the Kyoto Protocol have shown the Science Committee it's "real story":  "energy use will be more expensive, economic growth will be jeopardized, and American families will pay dearly for a flawed treaty."  He expressed concern that Cannon's legal opinion about EPA's authority to regulate CO2 could allow a " 'backdoor' implementation of the Protocol," and that this could also lead to EPA's regulation of other greenhouse gases, "such as methane, or even water vapor and clouds, which account for 96 percent of the greenhouse effect."

    Ranking Member Jerry Costello stated that the Kyoto Protocol should not be implemented unless ratified.  He also noted that energy efficiency needs to be improved and that more research on climate phenomenon would increase understanding of variables that might cause climate change.

    Panel
    Gary S. Guzy, General Counsel of the EPA
    Peter Glaser, attorney for Shook, Hardy, and Bacon L.L.P.
    Jeffrey G. Miller, Professor of Law, Pace University Law School
    James L. Huffman, Professor of Law, Lewis and Clark Law School

    The first panel consisted of a representative from the EPA and several attorneys that testified about the legality of EPA's claims.  Written testimony submitted by these panelists, as well as testimony of the witnesses in the second panel, can be found on the House Science Committee Web Page.

    Gary S. Guzy, General Counsel of the EPA, started his testimony by stressing that "the Administration has no intention of implementing the Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change prior to its ratification with the advice and consent of the Senate."  Guzy continued by noting that several sections of the Clean Air Act delegate the authority to regulate CO2 to EPA.  He claimed that CO2 qualifies as a pollutant under section 302(g) of CAA, where "pollutant" is defined as "any physical, chemical, biological, or radioactive substance that is emitted into or otherwise enters the ambient air."  He also noted that language in section 103(g) includes CO2 in a list of "air pollutants."  Guzy continued by noting that CAA requires certain provisions to be met before an "air pollutant" can be regulated, including that it "may reasonably be anticipated to endanger public health or welfare."  He also noted that section 302(h)  --  which includes "effects on climate" in a list of factors that would affect "welfare"  --  has been included in the CAA since 1970.  Guzy concluded by stating "one of the central conclusions of the Cannon memorandum":  "While CO2, as an air pollutant, is within EPA's scope of authority, the Administrator has not yet determined that CO2 meets the criteria for regulation under one or more provisions of the act."  Later in the hearing, Jeffrey G. Miller, a Professor of Law at Pace University Law School, concurred with the Administration's views, stating that carbon dioxide fits easily into the definition of "pollutant" from section 302(g), and that legislative history of the bill need not be examined because of the unambiguous language and structure of the statute.

    The next witness, Peter Glaser, attorney for Shook, Hardy, and Bacon L.L.P., said that EPA lacks the authority to regulate carbon dioxide.  Many of his arguments were similar to those made by Chairman McIntosh.  He stated that "even assuming that carbon dioxide emissions do present a danger to health, welfare, or the environment, EPA nevertheless could not regulate them.  Why not?  Because Congress did not give EPA the power to do so in the CAA or other enactment."  Glaser pointed out that CO2 is mentioned in the CAA only in the context of non-regulatory activities.  He expressed the opinion that this "congressional silence" indicates that it did not intend for the EPA to regulate carbon dioxide.  He also noted that the regulatory schemes that exist within the CAA, mainly National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS), could not apply to CO2 because it is globally pervasive and its concentration is basically constant throughout the atmosphere.  Glaser closed by stating that EPA's claim is "an extraordinary attempt by the agency to arrogate to itself power to control virtually all facets of the American economy."

    James L. Huffman, a professor of constitutional law and natural resources law at Lewis and Clark Law School, discussed how the administration's claim of authority to regulate CO2 "would constitute a clear violation of the fundamental constitutional principle of separation of powers."  He said that the fact that Congress did not specifically give EPA the authority to regulate CO2 is a "fundamental, constitutional reason to insist that EPA does not have the authority to regulate it."  He stated that it is the tendency of all government officials to seek to expand their power that gave rise to the separation of powers in the first place.  "The idea of checks and balances, of the immense powers of government being divided among legislative, executive, and judicial functions, has been a central tenet of American constitutional law since the founding of the nation."  He closed by stating that if carbon dioxide does actually pose a threat to society, and therefore does need to be regulated, "it is not asking too much that Congress provide the authorization required by the Constitution."

    The question and answer session that followed the testimony of Panel One consisted of sharply worded comments directed at Guzy.  McIntosh pointed out that under EPA's interpretation of CAA, basically "any substance could meet the definition of an air pollutant."  Guzy agreed that the definition is very broad, but said that not all substances could be regulated because they do not have certain harmful effects on public health and welfare.  Rep. Calvert then asked if the EPA had determined if CO2 was a threat.  Guzy said that concern had been initiated by the previous administration, when President Bush signing the United Nations Framework at the Rio convention.  Guzy pointed out that the Senate had ratified this protocol.  Rep. Kucinich (D-OH), in a late opening statement, noted that he firmly believes in and supports the authority of Congress.  He tried to downplay concerns of fellow committee members by noting that EPA had not proposed any regulation of CO2.  Rep. Ehlers (R-MI)  said that although CO2 may need to be regulated, EPA does not have the flexibility to do so under the current provisions in the CAA. Both he and Guzy agreed that it would be beneficial for Congress to "revisit the issue."  Rep. Barr (R-GA), in a late opening statement, said that he is "always amazed at the imagination of the Clinton Administration's lawyers."  He then said that Congress must delegate authority to agencies, and that it can not be implied.

    Panel
    Patrick J. Michaels, Professor of Environmental Science, University of Virginia, Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute
    Keith Idso, Vice President of the Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change
    Christopher B. Fields, a staff scientist with the Carnegie Institute of Washington

    The first testimony in Panel Two was from Patrick J. Michaels, a professor of Environmental Science at the University of Virginia and Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute.  Michaels discussed the inaccuracy of most GCMs, presenting evidence that only the lower 5,000 ft. of the atmosphere has been warming, and at a much lower rate than predicted by models.  He also noted that this warming has mainly taken place in the extremely cold air masses above Siberia and northern North America.  Michaels finished by showing a graph of the warming trends predicted by several well-known models.  He then matched data collected since the 1960s to the model that predicted the least amount of warming.

    Keith Idso, Vice President of the Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change  testified about the effects of carbon dioxide on the growth of plants.  He noted that environmental stresses that may be brought on by increased CO2 have a negative effect on plant growth.  He then presented evidence that showed that plants under environmental stress exhibit a greater percentage growth increase from increased CO2 concentrations than do unstressed plants.  From this, he deduced that:  "it is clear that rising CO2 content of the air will boost global plant productivity and growth under nearly all environmental circumstances, promoting the production of the food, fiber, and timber needed to feed, clothe, and provide shelter for the planet's rising population."

    The final witness was Christopher B. Fields, a staff scientist with the Carnegie Institute of Washington.  Fields agreed with Idso that increased CO2 levels have a positive effect on the growth of some plants.  He noted, however, that not all crops would benefit from high CO2 levels because of differing photosynthesis pathways.  He also suggested that increased losses to pests, higher rates of weed growth, and climate changes due to the rise of CO2 concentrations may cancel out positive effects brought about by higher CO2 concentrations.  He stated that the effects of CO2 on ecosystems will most likely be similar to those on crop production, noting that recreational value, watershed protection, and biological diversity could all be sensitive to the effects of elevated CO2.  He closed by stating that in general, increasing levels of carbon dioxide are likely to cause serious problems.  The terrestrial uptake of CO2 will not be able to counteract these problems unless anthropogenic CO2 emissions are limited.


    Senate Subcommittee on Forests and Public Land Management
    Hearing on S. 1457, the Forest Resources for the Environment and Economy Act
    September 30, 1999

    The Bottom Line
    This hearing focused on S. 1457, The Forest Resources for the Environment and Economy Act, sponsored by Subcommittee Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-OR).  The witnesses consisted of a representative from the US Forest Service and representatives from professional forestry organizations, non-profit organizations, and industrial groups that would be affected by the bill.  The witnesses spoke in favor of the general goals of the bill and had various suggestions about how it might be improved.

    Members present
    Chairman Larry E. Craig (R-ID) Ranking Member Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR)
    Sen.  Daniel K. Akaka (D-HI)

    In their opening statements, the senators present expressed their support of S. 1457, The Forest Resources for the Environment and the Economy Act.  This bill, sponsored by the Ranking Member Sen. Ron Wyden and co-sponsored by Chairman Larry Craig (R-ID) is "a bill to amend the Energy Policy Act of 1992 to assess opportunities to increase carbon storage on national forests derived from the public domain and to facilitate voluntary and accurate reporting of forest projects that reduce atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations, and for other purposes."  Craig noted that the bill would serve many purposes including:  improving the state of the nation's forests, increasing the amount of renewable biomass energy, and taking a "low-key approach" to the reduction of atmospheric CO2 concentration.  Sen. Wyden expressed his desire to "break new ground on forestry issues."  He said that the focus of this bill is to make it more attractive for non-industrial land owners to plant trees and that research has shown that this sort of approach could resolve "up to 25% of the global warming problem."  Sen. Daniel Akaka (D-HI) also voiced his support of the bill, stating that "Congress needs to stop treating global warming as a political tool," and that "much more could be done to promote carbon storage."

    The first panelist was Robert Lewis, Deputy Chief of Research and Development of the US Forest Service.  Lewis stated that the administration agrees with the general goals of S. 1457, but has some concerns regarding funding provisions and several other specific sections of the bill.  He said that the creation of the Carbon and Forestry Advisory Council is not necessary and suggested utilizing an existing council such as the National Research Advisory Council.  He also noted that the comprehensive accounting system and database mentioned in the bill do not currently exist and would be extremely costly to develop.  When questioned about the funding needed to implement the program, Lewis estimated that the Forest Service would need about $12 million.

    The second panel consisted of representatives from state forestry departments, non-profit organizations, and the private sector.  The first witness was Gerald J. Gray, Vice President of Policy at American Forests.  Gray expressed his support for the bill, saying that S. 1457 would help promote carbon forest projects in the U.S. and facilitate improved reporting of  their greenhouse gas benefits.  He praised the bill for integrating environmental, social, and economic concerns and said that it will increase private sector investment in forestation by addressing several concerns that have discouraged investment in the past.  Gray also noted that he believes it is important for the bill to promote monitoring and sharing information.  This will, in turn, ensure accountability, build trust, and promote learning in the future.

    Jim Cathcart, the Forest Resource Trust Manager of the Oregon Department of Forestry , concentrated his testimony around the Forest Resource Trust  --  the incentive program for reforesting underproducing lands after which the provisions in the bill are modeled.  He also said that they supported the revolving loan funding program and noted several strengths of the system.

    E. Austin Short, Delaware State Forester and Chairman of the National Association of State Foresters Emerging Issues Committee, offered his support for the legislation and offered some constructive suggestions to improve the bill.  He noted that many forests currently contain more trees than they are ecologically suited to house, are high risk areas for forest fires, and are therefore storing "unstable" carbon.  Because of these areas, carbon storage potential on some lands may be limited.  Short said that the NASF supports the revolving loan fund proposed by the bill, noting that incentives are often the reason why private landowners reforest.  He expressed concern that the bill takes on too many issues -- including watershed and wildlife issues -- instead of focusing on the carbon benefits of establishing and managing forests.  He also noted that the bill should make rapid carbon sequestration -- not just long-term carbon storage -- a priority when designating funding.

    William H. Banzhaf, the Executive Vice President of the Society of American Foresters (SAF), said that they are overall very supportive of S. 1457.  He expressed support for the bill's provisions to create carbon monitoring and verification guidelines as well as provisions to create the Carbon and Forestry Advisory Council.  SAF also advocates the inclusion of the State Revolving Loan Fund in the bill.  Banzhaf noted that the bill's definition of carbon forest activities as those that "have a positive impact on watersheds, fish habitats, and wildlife diversity" may make the purpose of the bill unclear.  He also said that certain sections of the bill reduce the flexibility of the state when administering the program and that the allocations formula may delegate more money to Western states, while the opportunities that the bill presents are national in scope.

    Thomas Imeson, Vice President of PacifiCorp, an electric utility company in the western United States, gave industry a voice in the hearing.  He said that "the act is an innovative approach to increasing public and private investment in the simple and environmentally meaningful action of reforesting our lands."  He stated that his company does not support mandated reductions of greenhouse gases and that the bill implements appropriate, conservative approaches to concerns about climate change.


    House Government Reform Subcommittee on National Economic Growth,
    Natural Resources, and Regulatory Affairs
    Credit for Early Action:  Win-Win or Kyoto Through the Front Door?
    July 15, 1999

    The Bottom Line
    This hearing was the tenth held by this subcommittee on issues related to the United Nations global warming treaty, the Kyoto Protocol.  The July 15 hearing addressed Senate legislation to provide regulatory credits for early reductions of greenhouse gas emissions.  The subcommittee looked at the economic consequences of early action programs and the impact such programs would have on future ratification of the Kyoto Protocol.  Subcommittee chair David McIntosh (R-IN) has been a staunch opponent of the Kyoto agreement and believes that the Administration is trying to side-step Senate ratification of the treaty by back door implementation -- the subject of his last hearing on May 20, 1999.  He also believes that "early action crediting is the centerpiece of a strategy by the Clinton-Gore Administration to divide and conquer business opponents of the Kyoto Protocol."  Witnesses discussed the current, voluntary emission program and gave their views on the consequences and necessity of greenhouse gas reductions, with most of the panelists opposing implementation of Kyoto.  Perhaps of significance, McIntosh did state that he could support reduction programs that awarded tax credits or some other incentive that in no way encouraged Kyoto implementation.

    Members Present
    Subcommittee Chair David McIntosh (R-IN)
    Rep. Lee Terry (R-Neb.)
    Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI)
    Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH)

     

    Opening Statements
    With the Committee chair still on the House floor discussing the coming tax bill, Ryan brought the meeting to order.  As ranking member, Kucinich started by stating he supports the concept of early action credits.  He cited examples of heat waves, increased storm activity, and weather-related damages across the country after stating that man's imprint on the climate is becoming more conclusive. Ryan offered his thoughts that the entire climate change debate has gone far beyond the environmental realm into the political arena.  Issues he raised in his brief statement included questioning what is the scientific take on climate change and is it constitutional to implement Kyoto without congressional approval?

    McIntosh arrived fresh from the Capitol and offered his belief that "early action crediting is the centerpiece of a strategy by the Clinton-Gore Administration to divide and conquer business opponents of the Kyoto Protocol." McIntosh explained that he had "little confidence that EPA would not use its discretionary authority to implement the Kyoto Protocol under other pretexts or rationales."  This was the topic of a previous joint hearing on May 20, 1999. Answers to a follow-up letter from McIntosh and Sen. Don Nickles (R-OK) to the EPA asking: "If EPA were implementing the Kyoto Protocol under the guise of existing law, how would anybody outside the agency know?" failed to soothe the chairman's concerns.  This led to the July 15 hearing.  McIntosh stated, "I regard early action crediting as a recipe for vast mischief," and later continued, "Although touted as 'voluntary' and 'win win,' I believe early action crediting is subtly coercive and would create a zero-sum game in which small businesses can only lose."  McIntosh wrapped up his opening remarks with the comparison that, "It would not be smart to purchase fire insurance that virtually guarantees your house will burn down.  By the same token, it would not be smart to purchase Kyoto insurance that increases the odds of the Kyoto Protocol being ratified."

    Witnesses
    The Honorable Jack Kemp, Distinguished Fellow, Competitive Enterprise Institute

    Kemp offered his opinion that the Administration is building support for Kyoto through early action crediting. He quoted H.L. Menken in saying that early action credits are , "Simple, neat, and wrong."  Kemp, former representative from upstate New York and the Republican VP candidate in 1996, framed the issue as being a question of whether or not the U.S. Congress will support an international bureaucracy intruding on U.S. sovereignty.  In an environment of festive back and forth between old colleagues, McIntosh chimed in explaining that early action creates something of value only if a treaty is ratified, giving those who receive credits an incentive to want a treaty.  This view echoed Kemp's earlier observation that the Kyoto Protocol is starting to attract corporate support.  Kucinich answered to the sovereignty issue, saying that although he supports Kyoto, he does not want to see the Senate's power usurped.

    The Honorable Jay Hakes, Administrator, Energy Information Administration

    Hakes was present to talk about the Voluntary Reporting of Greenhouse Gasses Program, also known as the 1065(b) Program.  As he explained, the interest in crediting for early emissions has led to "evaluations of the features of the Voluntary Reporting Program as a possible vehicle for providing regulatory credit."  Currently, participants under 1065(b) receive only a thank-you letter and a certificate from the U.S. government.  Hakes saw the Voluntary Reductions Program as being useful to any proposed crediting program through identifying issues that would be helpful to resolve, including questions such as "What is a reduction?  Who owns a reduction?  Would the reduction have happened anyway?  How does one verify reports?"  The voluntary program does not have as great a need for a "complete and fully defined systems of baselines, accounting rules and property rights," but the existence of the program has brought these issues to light. Hakes concluded that the voluntary program could be modified to handle the regulatory burden of early crediting, but the process may be costly and extensive.  He stressed as well that the Energy Information Administration lacks the the legal authority to resolve many of the issues raised by the early crediting and can only implement the decisions of law makers.

    Terry asked about the current size of the voluntary program and the expected growth that would be necessary if EIA was to ecome a regulatory oversight organization.  Hakes listed the three current employees and their $600,000 budget, explaining that this would have to grow, potentially quite a bit, if they were put in charge of crediting.  Terry also brought up the SOx emissions trading currently in place, wondering if this provided an example.  Hakes said it was useful, but admitted that greenhouse gas emission issues are much more complicated.  Baseline issues were brought up by McIntosh, and Hakes admitted that what is used as a baseline when comparing emission reductions has a large impact, creating winners and losers.  Hakes believes this is much more of a political question than a technical one.

    Panel:
    David Ridenour, Vice President, National Center for Public Policy Research
    Fred Krupp, Executive Director, Environmental Defense Fund
    Fredrick Palmer, General Manager and Chief Executive Officer, Western Fuels Association
    Kevin Fay, Executive Director, International Climate Change Partnership

    Ridenour was of the belief that even if man's greenhouse gas emissions were responsible for global warming, a position he casted some doubt on, early crediting would provide little relief to the environment and do damage to the economy.  He predicted small business would bear more of the burden of a ratified Kyoto if crediting were allowed, and saw early action as solely a means of recruiting big business in support of Kyoto.  He listed examples of companies with energy efficient products, all of whom would be eligible for credits, that have recently lined up in support of Kyoto. Maytag, Honeywell, and Toyota were specifically mentioned.

    Krupp's stance was markedly different.  The EDF believes that "the threat of human-induced climate change demands prompt and vigorous action to curb greenhouse gas emissions."  Krupp continued, "We believe that for the sake of both the environment and the economy, the policy tools used to accomplish this should tap, to the maximum extent possible, the ingenuity and resources of the private sector, instead of relying solely on the mandates of politicians and governments." Krupp saw early action credits as an effective means of encouraging the private sector to come up with new innovations and better ways of reducing greenhouse gas accumulations.

    Palmer spoke of the increasing energy needs brought about by the increasing importance of the internet and e-commerce.  According to Palmer, these increasing needs would be fueled by coal, and carbon dioxide emissions are an unavoidable consequence of burning coal.  Palmer posited that passing Kyoto or other restrictions would cripple this emerging economy.

    Fay rounded out the panel by coming out in support of early action credits.  He stated that the ICCP was against the ratification of Kyoto, but continued, "While the U.S. debates whether certain government actions constitute 'back door' implementation of the Kyoto Protocol, other countries such as Japan and European Union nations are actively designing and implementing policies and measures that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions.  These initiatives will spur technology and innovation in these nations thus potentially giving them a future competitive edge. ... The competitiveness of these companies could be affected by the lack of resolution of the credit issue and the lack of support in Congress for climate-related research, development, and technology programs."

    Complete testimony from the Subcommittee Chair and all witnesses can be found on the Subcommittee's webpage at:  http://www.house.gov/reform/neg/hearings/index.htm.


    Senate Energy and Natural Resources Subcommittee on Energy Research, Development, Production,
    and Regulation and the House Government Reform and Oversight Subcommittee on
    National Economic Growth, Natural Resources, and Regulatory Affairs
    Joint Hearing on Global Climate Change: Administration Compliance with Recent Statutory Requirements
    May 20, 1999

    The Bottom Line: This hearing was held, in the words of House subcommittee chair Rep. David McIntosh (R-IN), to: "Find answers to two main questions. First, is the Clinton Administration heeding the statutory prohibition against implementing the non-ratified Kyoto Protocol? Second, are the Clinton Administration's climate change policies, specifically the spending increases requested for the Climate Change Technology Initiative, or CCTI, a prudent and effective use of taxpayer's dollars?" In a split along party lines, the Republican members present at the hearing generally perceived backdoor attempts to implement the Kyoto Protocol and they were critical of the Administration's failure to comply with report language in last years VA-HUD Appropriations Bill. The Democrats were supportive of the the Administration's programs, and they found investment in energy efficiency and renewable energy to have value beyond the highly charged climate change issue. Witnesses appeared from the Administration and from citizens' groups, with testimony supporting both sides of the issue.

    Members Present
    Rep. David McIntosh (Chair) (R-IN)
    Sen. Don Nickles (Chair) (R-OK)
    Sen. Larry Craig (R-WY)
    Sen. Pete Domenici (R-NM)
    Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH)
    Sen. Daniel Akaka (D-HI)

     

    Opening Statements
    Nickles, as chair of the Senate subcommittee, brought the meeting to order and offered the first opening statement. He was followed by House subcommittee chair McIntosh who posed the questions noted above. His full statement is available at http://www.house.gov/reform/neg/hearings/openingstatements/dmm52099.htm. Both men were critical of what they perceived as backdoor attempts by the Administration to implement the Kyoto Protocol.

    Akaka commented on the unusual nature of this joint House and Senate hearing before talking about energy efficiency and its importance to states like Hawaii, which needs to import the vast majority of its energy needs.  Akaka found the programs under discussion to be good, common sense programs that deserved funding even before climate change issues hit the scene.  Craig, on the other hand, used his introductory minutes to focus on the Administration's failure to comply with language in last years Fiscal Year 1999 VA-HUD Appropriations Bill.  Amendments to this bill compelled the Administration to file justifications for any climate change programs with Congress by February 1, 1999.  None of the affected agencies (namely EPA, DOE and OMB) came close to meeting this deadline. Craig stated: "This compliance with congressional directives is unacceptable. The Administration is frustrating our efforts to responsibly fund programs that it claims are in the public interest.  The programs must first pass congressional scrutiny."

    Kucinich fell in line with his Democratic counterpart in the Senate and also found that, even without the threat of global climate change, investment in energy efficiency and renewable energy reduces costs, pollution, and dependence on foreign oil.

    Panel 1
    Representative Joe Knollenberg was the first witness to address the committees, and he tried to clarify the intent of last year's Knollenberg Amendment, the aforementioned language in the VA-HUD Appropriations Bill.  Knollenberg explained, "Let me set the record straight: The language I included in last year's budget prevents the EPA from misusing its existing authority to implement or prepare for the implementation of the Kyoto treaty in advance of its ratification by the Senate. My language does not undermine existing environmental law or cancel existing energy conservation efforts, nor does it curtail the research and development of more efficient technologies."

    Knollenberg's full testimony, along with the testimony of the other witnesses, is available on the House web page at http://www.house.gov/reform/neg/hearings.

    Panel 2
    Deidre A. Lee,  Acting Deputy Director for Management, Office of Management and Budget
    Peter Guerrero, Director, Environmental Protection Issues, General Accounting Office
    T.J. Glauthier, Deputy Secretary, Department of Energy
    David Gardiner, Assistant Administrator for Policy, Environmental Protection Agency

    OMB was asked to testify on its plans to comply and its compliance to date with the VA-HUD Appropriations Act of 1999 and other legislation and to discuss program performance measures for each line item increase in funding requested in the President's FY 2000 Budget.  Lee summarized the OMB report given to Congress on April 20, 1999, of which an even shorter summary here includes only the four major programs that address climate change and for which spending increases have been requested for FY 2000: the Climate Change Technology Initiative (CCTI); the U.S. Global Change Research Program; international assistance; and other climate related programs that exist primarily for another purpose, but also help improve energy efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

    The Government Accounting Office had completed its review of the Administration's report, and Guerrero offered their comments:  "The Administration's report, as required by law, provides multiyear spending data and describes climate change programs and activities. However, it was delivered to the Congress on April 20, 1999, 2 1/2 months after the specified due date. Also, the report did not always link its discussion of activities and performance goals to the specific line items shown in the President's budget. Finally, the report did not always provide a clear picture of intended performance across federal climate change activities, for example, by specifying -- in measurable and quantifiable terms -- the outcomes expected to be achieved by federal spending."

    Glauthier discussed the Department of Energy's budget requests for FY 2000 and pointed out many of the other benefits that energy efficiency R&D has beyond climate change, including improving our energy security, reducing air pollution, and lowering costs to consumers.  Gardiner did much the same, highlighting EPA programs.  He pointed out to the committee that many of these programs are currently in effect and getting results, with more to come if the funding keeps up.

    Nickles started off the question period by looking at some of the specific dollar figures requested in the President's budget for climate change-related programs, and asked that a detailed breakdown of spending be submitted to the committee.  Domenici was interested in how much of our current energy needs are being met by renewable energy sources (about 2.7%) and compared this with nuclear (about 21%).  He commented that it made no sense to spend so much on renewables and so little on nuclear when "renewables are much less relevant."

    Kucinich probed Guerrero (GAO), who admitted that the OMB report did satisfy the legal requirements. Addressing one of the GAO complaints that the Administration's report did not include quantifiable and measurable goals, Kucinich wanted to know if Guerrero had found any specific programs in which this would be appropriate, but where goals were not included. Guerrero answered that he did not know and had not read the report in detail. At this point, McIntosh chimed in to say that such a statement called into question the credibility of Guerrero's testimony.

    There were many questions trying to establish the extent of the Knollenberg amendment and how this language affects the agencies' ability to carry out non-Kyoto programs, coming to the vague conclusion that the wording should clearly reflect the intent.

    Panel 3
    Jerry Taylor, Director of Natural Resource Studies, Cato Institute
    William Lash, Professor of Law, George Mason University
    David Nemtzow, Alliance to Save Energy

    Taylor's testimony looked in detail at the Administration's compliance with the Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA) of 1993, and in short, he found three specific areas in which the Administration is not in compliance with GPRA stipulations: (1) "No concrete performance or results measures are provided for most of the DOE or EPA budget accounts in which the administration seeks increased appropriations to address global climate change;" (2) "Where concrete performance and results measures are provided, they are founded upon dubious analysis and are without solid foundation;" and (3) "Where concrete performance and results measures are provided, they are disconnected from any assessment of their value to the national economy or to public health, rendering them of little use to the public."  Taylor outlined examples, and the full text of his testimony can be found here.

    Lash's testimony followed a similar track, but was looking specifically at the EPA's compliance with the Knollenberg amendment. Lash summed up the problem thus: "The Knollenberg Amendment prohibits implementation of the Kyoto Protocol prior to Senate ratification via regulation, rules, orders, or decrees by the executive branch. Some maintain the provision bars any regulation the main effect of which is to reduce greenhouse gases. Others, including the EPA, maintain that the agency may regulate carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases under existing statutory authorities as long as the purpose of such regulation is not to implement the Kyoto Protocol. The question naturally arises as to how it would be possible for Congress to distinguish between EPA regulations that only incidentally accomplish the purposes of the Kyoto Protocol and EPA regulations that are designed to implement the Protocol under the guise of other statutory programs."  Lash's interpretation of EPA programs leaned towards the later, and he was of the belief that Congress should equip the Knollenberg amendment with teeth by, for example, requiring the EPA to get Congressional approval before enacting any new rules that limit carbon dioxide emissions.

    Nemtzow was the last to testify and spoke out in support of the Administration's energy efficiency programs.  As with the other pro-program speakers, he pointed out the many other benefits beyond climate change issues that energy efficiency provides, and he argued in favor of government involvement in the Administration programs.

    There were a few questions for the panelists, but nothing new was unearthed at this late hour in the hearing.  Craig commented that we are all interested in energy efficiency, but he finds it frustrating when agencies will not come forward and lay out the details and cost justifications of their programs.  Echoing Domenici's earlier comments, Craig also questioned how efficient spending money on new technologies is, when older technologies like hydro and nuclear are being all but ignored.


    Senate Environment and Public Works Committee
    Hearing on Voluntary Activities to Reduce the Emission of Greenhouse Gases
    March 24, 1999

    Members Present
    John Chafee, Chair (R-RI)
    Senator Craig Thomas (R-WY)
    Senator George Voinovich (R-OH)
    Senator James Inhofe (R-OK)
    Senator Max Baucus, Ranking Member (D-MT)
    Senator Joe Lieberman (D-CT)
    Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR)

    Witnesses
    Panel 1
    Eileen Claussen, Executive Director of the Pew Center on Global Climate Change
    Dale Landgren, Vice President for Business Planning of Wisconsin Electric Power Company
    Richard Sandor, Chief Executive Officer of the Environmental Financial Products
    Tia Nelson, Deputy Director of the Climate Change Program at The Nature Conservancy

    Panel 2
    John Passacantando, Executive Director of Ozone Action
    Raymond Keating, Chief Economist for the Small Business Survival Committee

    The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, which Senator Chafee chairs, held a hearing on S. 547 on March 24, 1999. Senator Chafee began the hearing by reminding the committee that the actions established in his bill would consist of "voluntary steps, remember voluntary." He said that businesses are seeking legal certainty for their actions and want to ensure that they will not be at a disadvantage in the future for reducing greenhouse gas use now. He said it was essential that the government only provide credit for verifiable actions, and that the alternative to his bill was to do nothing. Senators Lieberman and Voinovich also voiced their support for the bill in their opening statements. Ranking Member Baucus stated that he agreed that using free market tools to face climate change was a good idea, but did not say he supported the bill. Senator Inhofe spoke about a number of concerns regarding the bill, in particular the fact that he feels it may lend support to the Kyoto Protocol, which the Senate has not-- and most likely will not -- ratify. The full statements of the senators and the witnesses is available from the Environment and Public Works Committee website.

    Eileen Claussen spoke about the Pew Center on Global Climate Change, which was established in May 1998. It is comprised of 20 large companies, who believe climate change is a real threat and that they should take action now to reduce greenhouse gases. She said these companies want to take action, but want to receive credit under future regulatory schemes so that they would not be placed at a disadvantage. Claussen listed five ideas she believes are important to an early- action credit program:

    Dale Landgren spoke about Wisconsin Electric Power Company's efforts to reduce greenhouse gases and voiced his support for an early action credit program. He said that if his company does not receive credits for their action they will need to spend money twice: now and later to meet the new standards, and the later costs will be more expensive. He said he was reluctant to pursue additional activity without assurance of credit.

    Richard Sandor, Environmental Financial Products, spoke about the success of the credit trading program under the Clean Air Act, noting how the price of a permit is $188/ton, compared with predicted prices of $620/ton. He believes a similar program with greenhouse gases could "start the beginning of the end of climate change." He emphasized the role of agriculture and forestry in such a scheme.

    Tia Nelson testified on the Nature Conservancy's efforts to reduce greenhouse gases worldwide and said a well crafted bill could be a cost-effective tool to help companies take action in the US. Nelson provided several principals she believes are important for a successful bill:

    During the question and answer period, Chafee asked Claussen about accusations that the companies in the Pew Center are part of a "dark plot" or profit scheme. Claussen answered that there are many motivations for the companies to participate in the program. In addition to altruistic reasons, she speculated that many companies want to have "a seat at the table" in later discussion and don't want to be penalized. Senator Ron Wyden said he was troubled by all the forestry actions that were taken overseas when a real need exists here for such activities. Nelson responded that she agreed, and said the main reason they had worked overseas was that rules were in place for such activities, unlike in the US, further illustrating the need for a credit system here.

    In the second panel, John Passacantando said Ozone Action supports the concept of early action, but does not support the bill as currently written. He warned of four main flaws in the bill: providing credits for projects completed under DOE's voluntary program sacrifices credibility; the bill provides incentives for nuclear power; it encourages international rather than US action; and it should not include credits for sinks. Raymond Keating, Chief Economist, Small Business Survival Committee, spoke vehemently against the Kyoto Protocol and its costs to small business and said he does not support S. 547.

    During the Q&A, Chafee noted that Keating's testimony focused on the Kyoto Protocol and not the bill at hand, and asked Keating why he would be opposed to a voluntary program. Keating responded that such a program would send the message, "Kyoto is coming." They bantered about he science of climate change, which Chafee said would be a good topic for another hearing, before the hearing concluded.


    Please send any comments or requests for information to the AGI Government Affairs Program.

    Contributed by AGI/AIPG Geoscience Policy Interns Scott Broadwell and Michael Wagg, Kasey Shewey White and Margaret Baker, AGI Government Affairs, and AGI/AAPG Intern Alison Alcott

    Last Updated:  October 6, 2000


      Information Services |Geoscience Education |Public Policy |Environmental
    Geoscience
     |
    Publications |Workforce |AGI Events


    agi logo

    © 2014. All rights reserved.
    American Geosciences Institute, 4220 King Street, Alexandria, VA 22302-1502.
    Please send any comments or problems with this site to: webmaster@agiweb.org.
    Privacy Policy