In her recent congressional testimony, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) chief Carol Browner dodged around facts exposing her agency’s attempts to implement the Kyoto Protocol against the will of Congress. She is only following in her boss’ footsteps.
In his final State of the Union speech, President Clinton asserted that global warming is “the greatest environmental challenge of the new century,” warning of coastal flooding and economic disruptions if action is not taken to cut greenhouse emissions dramatically. This hysteria incited by Mr. Clinton is based on bogus science and promises only to foster the harmful policies pushed by Mrs. Browner.
The president outlined his solution to the perceived global warming threat as a combination of increased reliance on the strength of free markets, the advent of new technologies and tax incentives. Of course, like most of the president’s ideas, these common-sense proposals are borrowed from Republican lawmakers. And, like most of the Clinton presidency, the administration’s deeds have failed to match his words.
In December 1997, on behalf of the United States, vice president and Democratic presidential candidate Al Gore negotiated the Kyoto Protocol as an attempt to combat global warming and force the reduction of greenhouse gasses, especially carbon dioxide. Since that time, the Environmental Protection Agency has attempted to implement the Kyoto treaty despite the president’s refusal to send it to the Senate for ratification, as required by our Constitution. As a result, Congress, through legislation, has repeatedly said “no” to EPA’s backdoor efforts to implement this treaty.
Whether or not one believes that global warming is the “greatest environmental challenge of our time” or if it is even occurring at all the Kyoto Protocol is hardly the market-oriented, incentive-based solution that Mr. Clinton has been talking about.
The Kyoto treaty is, in fact, fundamentally unfair to Americans. It calls on other nations to meet much different emissions- reduction targets, if any at all, than those required of the United States. European countries would have to cut their emissions by a mere 8 percent, while Canada and Japan would be faced with reductions of only 6 percent. Here at home, the Kyoto rationing scheme would require more than a one-third reduction in energy use in 10 years.
Such a blow to the U.S. economy is not lost on the European states or other countries, including China, India, Russia, South Korea, Mexico and Brazil, which are not required to meet any emissions targets at all. Some nations would actually be permitted to increase their emissions levels levels controlled through regulation. What free-market forces are at play here?
The president claims the introduction of highly fuel-efficient automobiles is the answer to our environmental problems and proof that technology will lead the way. The fact is these fuel-efficient automobiles will be neither affordable nor readily available. The real means by which Kyoto would be enforced is through extraordinary price increases, dramatic reductions in consumption by all Americans, and coercion by an expanded U.N. bureaucracy.
Mr. Clinton also called in his State of the Union speech for business-tax incentives for “clean” energy production and individual tax breaks for the purchase of energy-saving homes, appliances and automobiles. Yet, the only incentives his EPA has been advocating are “clean air credits,” which, all the rhetoric aside, amount to nothing more than an advance payment to big companies to implement Kyoto before it is ratified if indeed it is ratified at all.
Although ignored by the White House, it is significant that in 1997 the Senate voted 95-0 to declare that the United States should not be a signatory to Kyoto unless, first, limits are placed uniformly on all participating countries and, second, there is no harm to the U.S. economy. Now, Mrs. Browner is pushing Mr. Clinton’s Climate Change Initiative, a nearly $5 billion proposition. Before Congress decides what to do with this proposal, the president must send the Kyoto treaty to the Senate for ratification this year and explain who will bear the economic pain of his policy. The American people deserve the truth about the administration’s Global Climate Initiative, not lofty rhetoric about cars that do not exist and energy rationing regulations masked as incentives.
Rep. Tom DeLay, Texas Republican, is House majority whip.