American Geological Institute

Government Affairs Program


Summary of Post-Kyoto Hearings on Global Climate Change (1-19-99)

Following the Kyoto negotiations, both the House and Senate held hearings to examine the effects of the treaty on the US. Summaries of the following hearings are listed below in reverse chronological order:

For more information on climate change policies and hearings held before Kyoto, visit the AGI website <http://www.agiweb.org/legis105.html#climate.


Committee on Government Reform and Oversight
Subcommittee on National Economic Growth, Natural Resources, and Regulatory Affairs
U.S. House of Representatives
July 15, 1998

Representative David McIntosh (R-IN), chair of the Subcommittee on National Economic Growth, Natural Resources, and Regulatory Affairs, held part five of the hearing series on "The Kyoto Protocol: Is the Clinton-Gore Administration Selling Out Americans?" focusing on the potential effects of the protocol on the transportation industry. Besides the chairman, two subcommittee members attended the hearing erratically until the hearing recessed after the second panel for a floor vote. The poorly attended hearing began with opening remarks by McIntosh that echoed his previous statements that the protocol "spells 'All Pain and No Gain.'"Rep. John Tierney (D-MA) commented on the potential benefits of the protocol. He went on to say that the matter at hand was not the Kyoto Protocol, which the Administration has yet to submit to Congress for review, but the issue of $6.3 billion in the President's budget that includes $2.7 billion for research and development and $3.6 billion for tax breaks for individuals and industries. Tierney concluded by referring to the McIntosh co-sponsored H.R. 3807 that would "prohibit the use of Federal funds to implement the Kyoto Protocol..., and to clarify the authority of Federal agencies with respect to the regulation of the emissions of carbon dioxide."  Rep. John Shadegg (R-AZ), arriving after the opening statements, did not make opening remarks.  Complete written statements of the chair and most of the witnesses from the hearing are available at the subcommittee website.

The first panel consisted of three witnesses from the automotive industry: John Fielders, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Borg-Warner Automotive, Inc.; John McTague, Vice President of Technical Affairs for Ford Motor Company; and Will Statom, Machinist for Delco Remy America.  Concerned about the potential loss of jobs, Mr. Statom, a McIntosh constituent who came to testify after attending a meeting hosted by the congressman in Muncie, compared the protocol to NAFTA, an agreement that would hurt blue collar and high-school-educated workers.  Both Mr. Fielders and Mr. McTague discussed the ongoing research and development underway in the automotive industry and the potential effects legislation could have on the industry.  Mr. Fielders, whose company has a facility in Muncie, said that his company is concerned about the environment and supports "efforts to deal with environmental issues on a rational and realistic basis," but that the industry needed time and a way to deal with environmental issues that is rational and realistic.  McTague said, "perhaps the greatest threat to this technology development is the Kyoto Protocol" because of the unrealistic time-frame set in the agreement.

The second panel consisted of two witnesses from the trucking industry: Edward Arnold, Chief Executive Officer of Arnold Industries, and Timothy Lynch, President, and Chief Executive Officer of Motor Freight Carriers Association.  Mr. Lynch summarized the attitude of the panel by saying, "the potential for higher transportation costs in the U.S., coupled with the favorable treatment under Kyoto for some of the world's largest developing countries, will almost certainly result in a further erosion of our manufacturing base," which will have adverse effects on the trucking industry.

The third panel, after a long delay due to a vote, consisted solely of John Horsley, Associate Deputy Secretary and Director of the Department of Transportation's Office of Intermobalism, whose testimony is available at the Department of Transportation (DoT) website.  Mr. Horsley opened by restating the importance of understanding global climate change, gave a synopsis of the history of the Kyoto Protocol, and said that Congress and the Executive Branch must continue to work together "to address the threat of global climate change." Referring to an economic analysis by the Council of Economic Advisors, he argued that the impact of the protocol on gasoline prices will be nominal.  Mr. Horsley concluded by saying that the recent tone Congress set by passing the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21) reinforces "the goals of ensuring that our transportation system remains both efficient and environmentally friendly and [guarantees] that our transportation decisions now do not preclude options for future generations."
 
 


Committee on Government Reform and Oversight
Subcommittee on National Economic Growth, Natural Resources, and Regulatory Affairs
U.S. House of Representatives
June 24, 1998

The House Government Reform and Oversight Subcommittee on National Economic Growth, Natural Resources, and Regulatory Affairs held the fourth in its series of hearings on climate change entitled "Kyoto Protocol: Is the Clinton-Gore Administration selling out Americans?" This hearing focused on the effect of the treaty on the coal and electric utility industries and workers. In his opening remarks, Chairman David McIntosh (R-IN) voiced his opinion that the "Kyoto Protocol spells 'All Pain and No Gain'" and that signing the treaty would be "reckless". He also warned the Administration against implementing the treaty "through the back door." McIntosh's statement and the full written testimony of the witnesses are available on the subcommittee website.

Senator Mike Enzi (R) of Wyoming, a major oil-producing state, was the sole witness in the first panel. His remarks focused on his belief that the Kyoto Protocol is flawed because it will not achieve the predicted carbon reductions but will entail high costs. He also attacked the Administration for its "lack of accountability" and unresponsiveness to requests for information. During the question and answer period, McIntosh told Enzi that he felt like he was getting the "mushroom treatment" from the Administration: "kept in the dark and being fed [expletive deleted]!" In response to another question, Enzi replied that the Senate is considering banning FY99 appropriations related to climate change.

The second panel consisted of Cecil Roberts, president, United Mine Workers of America; Chris Farrand, executive vice president, Peabody Holding company; Robert Murray, president and CEO, Coal Resources, Inc.; Paul Agathen, senior vice president, Ameren Services; and Ande Abbott, assistant to the president, International Brotherhood of Boilermakers.

Cecil Roberts spoke about the many diverse groups that are united in opposition to the Kyoto Protocol. He said that implementation of the treaty would cause American jobs to shift to foreign countries, but would still not reduce greenhouse gas emissions. He stated that for the treaty to be successful, the whole world must be involved. He concluded by saying that we need to comply with the Constitution and send the treaty to the Senate for a ratification vote.

In his testimony, Farrand summarized the results of a recent study by Resources Data International, Inc.(RDI), The Kyoto Protocol - Putting US Electricity Supply and GDP at Risk. The study assumes carbon dioxide emissions trading on a domestic, but not international, basis. The study found that under the terms of the treaty:

Robert Murray spoke about the "2100 hard-working people who want to earn a living" in his company that would be affected by the treaty. He believes that it is unfair to "destroy the lives of these workers" while not asking other countries to make similar sacrifices. He believes this "global warming hoax being spread by radical environmentalists" is not a scientific or political or environmental issue, but a human issue. He recommended using the appropriations process to stop the Administration's emissions reduction plans.

Paul Agathen spoke about Ameren's voluntary efforts to reduce carbon emissions through the Department of Energy's Climate Challenge program. He referred to the RDI study and others that indicate energy prices will rise dramatically under the terms of the treaty. He concluded by saying on behalf of the electric utility industry, he feels that implementing the Kyoto Protocol is not good public policy. He suggests addressing emissions through "voluntary, cost-effective, and flexible actions by all industries and nations."

Ande Abbott said that water vapor is a greenhouse gas and sarcastically asked if EPA would start regulating oceans and streams. He said that he does not want US jobs to be lost over an issue that may or may not be real. He believes that we need time to do more studies and get all nations involved.

The third and fourth panels consisted of Ernest Moinz, under secretary, Department of Energy and Eliza Perry, City Councilwoman, Homestead, Florida, respectively. Moinz reviewed the policies proposed by the Administration to address energy efficiency and research and development, which are described in detail on the AGI website and in his testimony. Perry spoke about the economic impact of natural disasters in her district, specifically the effects of Hurricane Andrew. She concluded her statements by asking the subcommittee to make decisions regarding climate change that will "protect Homestead and all the 'Homesteads' across this great nation."


Committee on Government Reform and Oversight
Subcommittee on National Economic Growth, Natural Resources, and Regulatory Affairs
U.S. House of Representatives
June 17, 1998

The House Subcommittee on National Economic Growth, Natural Resources, and Regulatory Affairs convened June 17th to hear testimony concerning the White House Global Climate Change Initiative (GCCI) and implementation of the Congressional Review Act (CRA).  G. Edward DeSeve, Deputy Director-Designate for Management of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), and Robert Murphy, General Counsel for the General Accounting Office (GAO), served as witnesses at the hearing. Their full written testimony is available from the subcommittee's web site.

The June 17th hearing was the fourth in a serious of hearings that intended to analyze the Kyoto Protocol to determine if the administration was selling out Americans.  The first hearing was held April 23, and its purpose was to critically examine the Kyoto Compromise and its impact on Americans and the U.S. economy.  Chairman David McIntosh (R-IN) focused on the inability of the Executive Branch agencies and departments to provide information concerning President Clinton's $6.3 billion budget request. In the beginning of March, Congressman McIntosh sent letters to 22 of these departments and agencies, and at the time of this meeting, he had only received 5 responses.  Even though these responses were missing, the Subcommittee still presented witnesses to talk about the problems with the Kyoto Compromise. Testimonies came from congressmen, economists, an auto work, a senior citizen, a housewife, a public policy professor, and a local government official.

The hearing began with Chairman David McIntosh (R-IN) questioning OMB's progress in providing information about the Administration's climate change policies. Representative McIntosh specifically hoped to address the OMB's cooperation with the subcommittee concerning information on the White House GCCI and OMB's success in introducing the CRA.  According to McIntosh, OMB has failed to respond to the subcommittee's request for information surrounding President Clinton's proposed $6.3 billion funding for the Climate Change Technology Initiative (CCTI). In addition, the subcommittee has just now reviewed a serious of documents that had been requested in March, and Representative McIntosh believes that more files are still being withheld.  The Subcommittee also wanted to examine OMB's performance in overseeing agency compliance with the CRA. In short, Chairman McIntosh felt that OMB's Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) had an obligation to guide these agencies so that complete access to regulatory information existed.

Speaking on behalf of the OMB, Mr. G. Edward DeSeve commented on the OMB's cooperation and progress in the GCCI and in the CRA. Mr. DeSeve replied that the complexity and depth of the Subcommittee's questions required a great amount of time. Due to the time factor, OMB issued responses on May 13 and June 9th. Currently, OMB is in the process of addressing the Subcommittee's May 27th request, and Mr. DeSeve remarked that he will work to make sure that the proper information is delivered. In terms of the $6.3 billion request, Mr. DeSeve maintains that he is not qualified to talk about this issue since he does not participate in environmental budget decisions.

To further discuss the OIRA's success in meeting its obligations under the CRA, Mr. Robert Murphy, representing the GAO, testified at the hearing.  According to Mr. Murphy, the GAO has recently observed an increased cooperative effort by OIRA to implement the CRA.  For example, OIRA has taken on greater responsibility in conducting follow-up contacts with the agencies.  Yet for CRA to properly function, OIRA should take on more leadership in guiding the agency decisions.  Mr. Murphy recommended the following improvements: "1) develop a standardized reporting format that can readily be incorporated into GAO's database providing the information of most use to the Congress, the public, and GAO; 2) establish a system to monitor compliance with the filing requirement on an ongoing basis; and 3) provide clarifying guidance as to what is a rule that is subject to CRA and oversee the process of identifying such rules."  In this sense, GAO seemed prepared to advise and help the OMB in performing its duty concerning the CRA.

Congressional Review Act (CRA)

President Clinton signed the Congressional Review Act (CRA) on March 29, 1996.  This legislation required all of the Executive branch agencies to deliver a copy of a final rule  to Congress and to the GAO.  In addition to submitting the final rule, agencies should include the rule's effective date and a general statement on the rule.  Each agency must also be prepared to release all the analyses utilized in making the rule.  Before a copy of the rule is sent to Congress and the GAO, each agency should label the rule as "major" or not.  A "major" rule applies to those guidelines which will have an annual effect of over $1 million on the economy.  In addition, if the rule has a possibility of increasing prices or severely affecting competition between U.S. and foreign-based companies, then it is also considered "major".  If designated as "major," the rule cannot take effect until 60 days after reports have been sent to Congress and the GAO.  "Non-major" rules become law after the copy of the rule has been delivered. Congress has 60 legislative days-- no matter if the rule is "major" or not-- to disapprove the rule.


Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources
June 4, 1998

On June 4, 1998 the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources held a hearing on the General Accounting Office report, Global Warming: Administration's Proposal in Support of the Kyoto Protocol, requested by Senators Larry E. Craig (R- ID), Jesse Helms (R- NC), Chuck Hagel (R- NE), and Frank Murkowski (R- AK), in November 1997. Two witnesses, Victor Rezendes, Director of Energy, Resources, and Science Issues for GAO, and Dirk Forrister, Chairman of the White House Climate Change Task Force, were present at the hearing.

Committee Chairman Murkowski opened the hearing with remarks regarding the effects of the Administration's climate change proposal on the national economy. He continued by posing several questions to the Administration on whether a blueprint exists for the climate change proposal, the cost of the proposal, and specific figures for the proposal. Committee members then made general remarks on the proposal.

Senator Craig commented on his "doubts concerning the scientific evidence used by the Administration to support the claim of an imminent catastrophe caused by the so-called global warming." In reference to the Administration's stand on nuclear energy, the Senator stated nuclear energy is the second largest source of energy, but the Administration's proposal does not address nuclear issues. The Senator concluded by saying the Administration's request for $6.3 billion for the Climate Change and Technology Initiative is premature since there are no guidelines or plans. In fact, Congress has not even voted to support the Kyoto Protocol.

Senator Bob Graham (D- FL) stated that the Administration needs to address the emission reduction goals of the Kyoto protocol in a multiple benefits vision which includes nuclear issues. Senator Rod Grams (R- MN) followed suite by emphasizing the importance of nuclear energy in meeting the goals set in Kyoto, and the need for any global emission plan to include developing nations along with developed nations.

The Committee then heard testimony from the two witnesses. Their full written testimony is available from the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.

Victor Rezendes commented on the GAO report, answering the questions:

(1) Does the administration have an overall goal for the $6.3 billion stage 1 climate change proposal and a plan for accomplishing that goal?

(2) If funded, to what extent will the $6.3 billion help the United States meet the protocol's emissions target?

(3) What are the implications for the United States if the Senate ratifies the protocol, given the current status of the administration's efforts to implement the climate change proposal?

In October 1997, the President proposed a three-stage plan to cut greenhouse gas emissions below 1990 levels between 2008 and 2012. Stage 1 (1998-2003) would include investments in research and development, tax cuts for energy-efficient products, re-evaluation of federal energy use, and other voluntary actions to begin to reducing energy use and greenhouse gas emission.

Rezendes stated "the administration has not established a quantitative goal for reducing greenhouse gas emissions by the end of stage 1" and there is "no specific time frame for preparing a more detailed plan." He continued by saying "the extent to which the $6.3 billion stage 1 proposal will help the United States meet the protocol's target for emission reduction is unclear." The budget is divided into two sections: tax credits and research and development. The R&D section of the budget has performance goals and estimates on potential emissions reduction, that the tax credit section of the budget is lacking. Rezendes concluded by saying the success of the Administration's proposal is uncertain since the Administration has not been forthcoming with key information.

Dirk Forrister summarized the general concerns of climate change in his opening statement. He reported on the administrative initiatives including examples of "partnerships with key energy-intensive industries to develop sector-by-sector initiatives to cut emissions." The proposal also focuses on restructuring the electrical industry, tax credits for energy-efficient buildings and homes, R&D of more energy-efficient technologies, and continued work in the Global Change Research Program along with other "win-win" elements. In conclusion, Forrister stated "taken together these domestic actions chart a course aimed at enhancing our nation's energy efficiency and spurring technological innovation in ways that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions."

A period of questions and answers closed the hearing. Members mostly inquired about details and specifics on the stage 1 portion of the proposal. Neither Forrister nor any of his accompanying staff could give specific goals and plans to coordinate the 14 agencies named in the proposal. Rezendes restated the need for more information before a full analysis of the proposal could be completed. As the hearing closed, Senator Bumpers said that it would be to the nation's advantage if the Administration made more noise about its climate change proposal.



 
 
 

Committee on Government Reform and Oversight
Subcommittee on National Economic Growth, Natural Resources, and Regulatory Affairs
U.S. House of Representatives
May 19, 1998

On May 19, 1998, Subcommittee Chairman David McIntosh (R-IN) held a hearing to discuss the discrepancy between the Kyoto-related estimates of the White House Council of Economic Advisers (CEA) and the estimates of the Wharton Economic Forecasting Associates (WEFA). In order to clarify this inconsistency, McIntosh ordered that the White House information be given to Congress. Yellen maintains that some information can only be accessed at the White House. However, McIntosh contends that the data which has already been sent to Capital Hill shows no evidence of an independent study performed by the White House. If the desired information is not delivered to Congress, McIntosh claims that he will proceed with a subpoena. Senator Pete Domenici (R-N.M.) and Representative Dan Schaefer (R-Colo.) also insist on the information so that the total economic effects of the Kyoto proposal and the budget proposal can be discussed.


Committee on Government Reform and Oversight
Subcommittee on National Economic Growth, Natural Resources, and Regulatory Affairs
U.S. House of Representatives
April 23, 1998

The House Government Reform and Oversight Subcommittee on National Economic Growth, Natural Resources, and Regulatory Affairs held an extensive hearing with over 15 witnesses on April 23. The full written testimony of the witnesses is available from the Committee website.


House Science Committee
The Road from Kyoto Part 1: Where Are We, Where Are We Going, and How Do We Get There?
February 4, 1998

Science Committee Chairman James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) opened the hearing by posing three questions about the Kyoto agreement: Is the science sound? Will the treaty work? Is it fair? He then answered all the questions negatively, stating that the exclusion of developing countries prevents the treaty from being effective and fair. Ranking Member George Brown (D-CA) agreed that the treaty was not perfect, but believes that it "puts us on the right track" with its flexibility and market strategies.

Five witnesses testified, all in one panel:
Kathleen McGinty, chair, Council on Environmental Quality
Jay Hakes, administrator, Energy Information Administration
Joseph Goffman, senior attorney, Environmental Defense Fund
Connie Holmes, chair, Global Climate Coalition,
Michael Marvin, executive director, Business Council for Sustainable Energy

Ms. McGinty began by stating that the final Kyoto agreement was based on the United States' idea that the economy and environment can work together. She emphasized the flexibility in all aspects of the treaty, including "when, where, and what" reductions will occur. The US successfully delayed the final deadline for compliance and allowed emissions to be averaged over several years, to allow for long-term solutions; Countries can also "bank" emissions, storing them until another compliance period and benefit from reductions made abroad. Finally, an entire "basket" of gases needs to be reduced, and reductions will be determined by the reduction of all six greenhouse gases. In addition, sinks, such as forests, will be counted as methods of reducing gases. McGinty described the process of mitigating climate change as "not a sprint, but a marathon."

Hakes presented findings of the Energy Information Administration, an autonomous statistical and analytical agency within the Department of Energy. He testified that the Kyoto treaty prescribes a reduction of 550 metric tons, which is 31 percent below currently- predicted levels. The reductions in the United States, however, will be less because of emissions trading provisions. He predicted more efficient power plants and appliances, along with nuclear power and renewable technologies, will help ease the transition to the terms of the treaty. He noted that most energy equipment lasts 8-15 years. Waiting until 2010 to make efficient technologies available would not be an effective strategy; we should encourage companies to replace structures with more efficient ones immediately.

Dave Smith testified that there is enough information to suggest that climate change is a serious problem and we must do something, but he does not see the Kyoto treaty as a solution. The costs of compliance with the treaty in the US will encourage companies to move their operations offshore. In addition, the treaty will have enormous economic consequences, with loss of employment, lower wages and lower GDP.

Goffman testified in support of market based mechanisms, such as emissions trading, which can allow the treaty "to be met in an affordable fashion." He cited the acid rain emissions program, which has reduced predicted costs by 20-45 percent. In addition, utilities in the program have cut their sulfur emissions by approximately 35 percent more than required. He suggested a voluntary system of early reduction credits, to encourage businesses to act sooner rather than later to make their operations more energy efficient.

Ms. Holmes testified that the Kyoto treaty is "a bad deal for the US." She stated that it does little to help climate; is based on uncertain science; and would cause a loss of sovereignty for the US. Unlike the other panelists who believe the treaty could work with the addition of developing countries, Holmes testified that the treaty was not "fixable." Meeting the goals could cost up to 3 percent of the US GDP.

Marvin testified that the Kyoto treaty is a good first step. He believes many of the technologies needed to achieve the reductions are already here -- energy efficiency, natural gas, and renewable energy --and we need to encourage the use of these options. He noted that reduction in emissions does not mandate reductions in energy use. Finally, he testified that the costs of compliance are being overstated, and we must also consider the costs of inaction.

Question and Answer
Chairman Sensenbrenner led off a lively question and answer session. McGinty assured him that the US would not assume binding standards without a commitment from developing countries. Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (R-MD), who did his Ph.D. on carbon dioxide, stated that he does not believe that greenhouse gases are responsible for the slight global warming trend. He does, however, support renewable energy sources and reductions in carbon dioxide because fossil fuel supplies are limited. Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) asserted her belief that climate is changing, based on observations of the many recent natural disasters in her district. McGinty responded to her statements by noting that the costs of responding to natural disasters are often overlooked when computing the cost of compliance.

Rep. Ken Calvert (R-CA) acknowledged that the US has the highest carbon dioxide emissions, but noted that we also have the highest standard of living. He does not believe the Kyoto agreement will reduce carbon dioxide, but thinks that it will harm the economy and drive businesses overseas. Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) asked what sanctions will be imposed if the treaty is not met, and McGinty answered that those decisions have not yet been made. Johnson also asked about incentives to take early action. Goffman responded that tax credits and a guarantee that those actions will receive credit once a program takes effect would be most effective. Rep. Nick Lampson (D-TX) questioned Holmes' assertion that the US would lose sovereignty under the treaty. McGinty responded that those claims were unjustified, and that international bodies would not provide any specifics of measures to be taken. In response to a question on the price of natural gas by Rep. Mike Doyle (D-PA), Hakes answered that the price would increase slightly. Rep. Lynn Rivers (D-MI) asked Holmes what actions the Global Climate Coalition would like to see taken regarding climate change. Holmes responded that she supports cars with higher gas mileage and research and development -- she believes these new technologies should keep pace with the economy. Holmes continued by stating that current initiatives are adequate, and nothing additional should be done.

Rep. Ralph Hall (D-TX) asked how the President's new research fund will be divided. McGinty responded that they will be aimed at nuclear and clean coal research. An emphasis will be placed on encouraging partnerships between national labs and the private sector. Rep. Tim Roemer (D-IN) asked Holmes about the Global Climate Coalition's involvement in commercials opposing the treaty, and she responded GCC was one of many groups involved in making the ads, which costs between $10-12 million. Roemer then complained that those ads made it hard for him to communicate with his constituents on trade issues. Several questions followed by Sensenbrenner and Doyle regarding the logistics of emissions trading. McGinty explained that business agreements will run the system and it will be similar to the trading of sulfur dioxide, which is now traded on the Chicago Board of Trade.

 Sources: Energy and Environment Weekly, American Institute of Physics, House Science Committee, hearing testimony, and Department of Transportation


Please send any comments or requests for information to the AGI Government Affairs Program at govt@agiweb.org.

Contributed by Kasey Shewey White, AGI Government Affairs and Shannon Clark and Margaret Baker, AGI Government Affairs Interns

Last updated January 19, 1999


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