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Global Warming Conference: Keynote Address

Regulatory Comments and Testimony

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Global Warming Conference: Keynote Address

SENATOR LARRY E. CRAIG (R-ID): Fred, thank you very much for your efforts with the Competitive Enterprise Institute. And also let me thank you for convening this conference on the issue of climate change and climate change policy.

We obviously all gather here today in an air conditioned room on what may be a record hot day for our nation's capital. So you could quickly draw the conclusion, if you walked outside today, that, ah, yes global warming is upon us. But if you would check with the Weather Bureau, you would find that preceding this warm day, we had two cool summers in Washington. In fact, this morning on the local news, the weatherman was saying this is unseasonably hot. And the news commentator said, Well, is this -- in fact, did literally say this -- Is this a product of global warming? And the weatherman stopped, hesitated, and said, Well, I really don't think so because the last two years have been cooler than usual, obviously, the conclusion being that don't take this day under the current hypothesis of Al Gore. If you can live with that, you can live with my comments for the rest of my time. (Laughing.)

When the 105th session of Congress convened, Senator Lott turned to me as Chairman of the Policy Committee and said, Larry, would you convene a variety of task forces to look at different issues and make recommendations to the republican conference as to what we might do? I did that. But I chaired one of them, the Environmental Task Force. And in chairing that I focused on the issue of global climate change and what we might do about it. And I recommended at that time that obviously the Senate was not focused on a responsibility that it might have to cope with down the road in several months as this Administration drove forward with a policy of global climate change coming out of the conference in South America that President Bush attended and that we ought to focus on this a great deal more than we had. As a result of that, from internally in the Senate and externally by a variety of interests beginning to contact members of the House and the Senate about a concerned path that the Administration was on. I asked the leader if he would appoint and action team, a bipartisan action team, of senators to move forward to heighten this issue to make us more aware of it and, in fact, to take senators to Bonn and senators to Kyoto to speak openly to those who were assembled on the global climate change issue to assure them that we were not a parliament, that in fact that President of the United States did not speak for the Senate of the United States, that we were in fact a separate body with a responsibility of ratification of any treaty that might come about, and in that context that those who gathered for the purpose of proposing the treaty needed to be aware that not all America was in lock step with where this Administration was headed.

Now here's why. Well, let me back up and say that following that action, that action team was formed. Chuck Hagel, Senator Hagel became Chairman of it. There have been a variety of hearings on Capitol Hill too by Senator Hagel and the Foreign Relations Committee. Senator Chafee on July 10th held a hearing and will hold another one on the 17th. And out of all of that, a resolution, a bipartisan resolution, now known as the Byrd/Hagel Resolution, Senate Resolution 98, as spawned, will be heard before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and we hope will be marked up and passed by the Senate before the August recess. Now, of course, there is a reason for that and it has something to do with the Bonn conference convening on July 28 through August 8 and what we sense is a very important time for the Senate of the United States to begin to speak out to the world, not just to the citizens of this country, about what we may or may not do on this issue.

We believe that the Administration is clearly on the wrong path. Two things appear to be true at this moment: The Administration is committed to pursuing a new international treaty that would impose legally binding controls on US greenhouse gas emissions; and they really do not want to talk about it very much, only the promise of a free lunch in the end, or should I say a free lunch in a utopian world. That appears to be where Al Gore and Tim Wirth are headed at this morning. The Byrd/Hagel resolution has, at least we believe, begun to catch the Administration's attention. It informs the President that the Senate will not ratify any treaty that imposes legally binding emissions restrictions on the United States unless the treaty also imposes binding commitments for greenhouse gas emission reduction from the developing countries during the same timeframe. The resolution now officially has 60 co-sponsors. We've got five or six hanging in the wings. And if we can get it to the Floor pre to the August recess, my guess is it will receive a substantial majority vote in the Senate.

During his June 26, speech before the United Nations, President Clinton did appear to acknowledge the Byrd/Hagel resolution well maybe if but for the blink of an eye. He signaled what I think is a modest shift in policy from Deputy Secretary Wirth's insistence that the United States go it alone until sometime down the road when the developing world will eventually join us in reducing emissions. In his UN speech, the President made a reference to the need for all nations to do their part to meet the impending doom, multi-industrialized nations that emit large quantities of greenhouse gases and developing nations whose emissions are growing rapidly. However, that was his only reference to the resolution that I've mentioned and the conditions that it would hold and basically suggested that we move on down the road to a binding treaty on the United States.

More importantly perhaps, the President's UN speech insisted that despite 60 signatures for the Byrd/Hagel resolution, that the Administration was on a course of full steam ahead with its previous announcement that it plans to seek a treaty that commits the United States and other developed countries to legally binding emissions reductions during the Kyoto meeting in December. He confirmed the Administration's commitment to realistic and binding limits that will significantly reduce our emission of greenhouse gases.

In his UN speech, the President also said that we must first convince the American people and the Congress that the climate change problem is real and imminent. In other words, he too has read the tea leaves. But maybe he and Al Gore and Tim Wirth are way out on a limb at this moment and they need to reach back and drag a few folks out there with them if, in fact, they are going to be able to sell this to the country, but more importantly, sell it to the Senate. As a key feature of this propaganda that I think we will now begin to emerge, the White House will convene a conference this fall to educate the American people that the science is clear and compelling, that imminent disaster consequences lie ahead, such as the Chicago heat wave that killed more than 400 people just two years ago.

Accordingly, we must all be prepared for an invigorated propaganda barrage from this Administration because, without question, they saw the lights go on in the Senate on this issue a couple of months ago. And they recognized that we are on a strategy of education and understanding well out before we get to the contrived science, in our opinion, that may be being admitted by this Administration. The first salvo of this barrage may well have been what I say -- and I mean this -- the radical testimony given by Deputy Secretary Wirth in the Foreign Relations Committee last month in which he cataloged a cataclysmic vision of floods, draught, and pestilence unless the United States takes a lead right now. Damn the science, full steam ahead. And oh, by the way, scare the hell out of the American citizen on your way down that road.

Let me tell you in Idaho from a farmer and rancher what a degree change in the weather or maybe a degree-and-a-half change does to my state. It extends the growing season by at least two weeks on each end. And it creates great wealth in my state because I will tell you that Idaho was once warm. It was once a swamp and dinosaurs tromped it. And it was also once a piece of a glacier. And I would much prefer somewhere in between. But I'd lean more toward swamps and dinosaurs because as a farmer, I know darn well that I could make money doing that. (Laughing.) And I suspect that there is a new emergence of the positive side of a few degrees one way or the other and that maybe we ought to be thinking a little bit about that while we are thinking about Tim Wirth's visions of floods, droughts, and pestilence.

There is no need to rush to Kyoto in my opinion. Both the hearings held by Senator Hagel and Senator Chafee contain science panels that presented solid cases for the proposition that even if you believe that the net input of human activities will raise the world's average temperature during the next century, the overwhelming likelihood is that it will happen gradually and that there will be plenty of time to bring about prudent policy if science demands it. In addition, I see that you have Dr. Patrick Michaels here this afternoon to debate and discuss the issue. And we have heard him before the Senate committees. And I highly recommend your attention to that debate.

The second salvo of the Administration's propaganda appears to have started. The Administration has been hiding -- let me repeat that -- the Administration in my opinion has been hiding the results of its computer models and the now famous Argonne Laboratory analysis completed late last year. As you all know, the Argonne study concluded that the six basic industries, steel, basic chemicals, petroleum refining, aluminum, paper, and concrete or cement in the developed countries would be devastated by taxes necessary to meet the targeted 1990s levels of total greenhouse gas emission by the year 2010 while providing little environmental improvement.

Last Friday the Administration finally released the six-month-old study with its own spin, indicating that the energy price scenarios were far too high because of all the innovative proposals that have been put in place since 1996. That's just in a year-and-a-half. Essentially DOE argues that the Argonne report is relevant because the Administration's own proposals call for developing countries to join in reduction of emissions and would provide developed countries maximum flexibility in reaching emissions targets such as international emissions trading, multiple year emissions budgets, credits for joint implementation projects that reduce emission in developing countries and accelerate climate technology programs. Accordingly, this appears to be the second salvo of the Administration's propaganda efforts: Don't worry, our innovative use of the market mechanisms will make saving the planet very inexpensive. Beware again, folks, of the free lunch.

Even though the cap and trade regime for international markets in the greenhouse gas emissions credit maybe less devastating than energy taxes in one real way they could be. At least energy taxes would increase federal revenues that could be rebated back to the economy or we could create a new agency and give you more government. An international trade scheme threatens to require US companies to give foreign competitors cash in exchange for emissions credit. These payments will not recycle into the economy. On the contrary, these payments will serve to subsidize our competitors and ultimately shut down or make noncompetitive America's industries.

Well, I am waiting for the second shoe to drop in the free lunch theme. In his same United Nations speech last month, President Clinton called the EPA's Air Quality Rule that he has just approved and are to be issued in final form this week, a positive first step, but that America must also invest in technologies of the future and new technologies like emissions trading. I hope that during your conference today, the economists will address the cumulative impacts on our economy of combining the Clean Air, Particle and Ozone Rules with the Administration's other as yet unspecified proposals for climate change policy.

A real concern that I have with the Administration's propaganda is that in those climate change economic models at the Commerce Department, that they could all be suddenly fixed once again so that this week's Clean Air Rules once they are issued will show huge new compliance costs in the baseline allowing the incremental costs of international emissions trading to appear to be artificially small. Again, the Administration's plan is to subdivide the pain so that its initiatives will appear to be less costly and to reduce pollution. And that can be a very inexpensive policy to save the planet from a catastrophe.

I think our challenge is to expose this theme. Now what does the Senate want to do? The Senate wants to deal with real science. The Senate wants to better understand that if there is anything that we should do, now or in the foreseeable future, that we could work with a world in which all would be participants and not just single out the United States and developing nations and leave China and other major Third World emerging nations free to run and roll and to leave our economies, our people, and our lifestyle at risk.

So those are the issues at hand. Fred, let me thank you for convening this conference once again. It is without question worthy of your time and your interest because we in the Senate don't really know whether the world is getting warmer or whether we are causing it to be warmer. But if that's true, then we all ought to sit down together and scratch our heads to come up with the best of all ideas so that we don't necessarily penalize ourselves because, while I can dream of a utopian society, the bottom line is we have to face the reality of the day. And the reality is that the science does not yet exist for Al and Bill and for a Deputy Secretary of State who wants to change all of the game to focus on their political agenda and not a valid environmental agenda for the world. Fred, thank you very much.

(Applause.)

MR. SMITH: The Senator's got to leave. But I think those remarks give us a wonderful kickoff for this kind of an activity. The Senator has pointed out quite well that the free lunch philosophy -- probably in this context, Senator, not the free lunch philosophy. I think the free lightbulb philosophy is what we are really talking about, or as those of you who know the history of the US folklore in this area, the 100-mile-per- gallon carburetor that has been hidden away by Detroit and kept from the American people.

The first panel will be -- why doesn't the first panelist come forward. Let's see it's -- Mike Fumento -- oh, I'm sorry. Spencer is first. I've got the first panel second. As we go into this first one, let me just leave you with one thought: I was in a conference that Secretary Wirth ran recently. Secretary Wirth had a number of people there. Steve Schneider, who some of you know is one of the apocalyptics in this area -- at the very end of it, after a very interesting debate, discussion, disagreement about the course of global warming policy, Steve looked at me. He says, Fred, the problem with you guys is you're willing to run an uncontrolled experiment on the only planet we have. I looked at him and I said, Well, Steve, that's a very dramatic way of putting it. But another way of putting it is you guys are willing to run an uncontrolled experiment on the only civilization we have. And I think that's the frame we will be developing today. Thank you very much. Jonathan will introduce.