- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 10, 2001

House Democrats slipped a provision into the State Department budget bill directing President Bush to continue negotiating the global-warming treaty he has rejected.
The provision was approved by Democrats and one Republican on the House International Relations Committee last week during a drawn-out markup session at a point when several committee Republicans had left the room, congressional aides said. Rep. Chris Smith, New Jersey Republican, voted for the measure.
Conservative activists fear that Democrats are pushing the provision, in the form of a "sense of the Congress" resolution, to try to supplant a resolution that overwhelmingly passed the Senate in 1997 rejecting major provisions of the global warming treaty forged in Kyoto, Japan.
Citing the Senates 95-0 vote, President Bush rejected the Kyoto treaty last year. This spring, he set up a White House task force to find other ways to address any risk of global warming through domestic action and cooperation with other countries.
Ken Lisaius, White House spokesman, said he was unaware of the House committee provision. He pointed out that the bill still has a long way to go before it reaches the presidents desk. Aides to Senate Republican leaders said they intend to remove the provision in House-Senate conference, if it gets that far.
The bill containing the measure is scheduled for debate on the House floor today. The provision directs the administration to "continue to participate in international negotiations with the objective of completing the rules and guidelines for the Kyoto protocol."
The resolution says that "global climate change poses a significant threat to national security, the American economy, public health and welfare and the global environment." It says the United States and other developed nations "should take the lead in combating climate change."
The administration "should demonstrate international leadership and responsibility," the measure states, by "ensuring significant and meaningful reductions in emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases."
The resolution was sponsored in committee by Rep. Robert Menendez, New Jersey Democrat, Rep. Barbara Lee, California Democrat, Rep. Alcee Hastings, Florida Democrat, and Eni F.H. Faleomavaega, Democrat from American Samoa. Legislators from low-lying areas are concerned that global warming may cause the sea level to rise.
President Bush has rejected the deep emissions reductions called for under the Kyoto treaty, saying they will hurt the U.S. economy. He also has said the treaty is unfair because it exempts developing countries from mandatory emissions cuts. Those are the two reasons also cited in the Senate resolution rejecting terms of the treaty.
Since the Senates 1997 vote, several senators have been elected who support action on global warming. But congressional aides believe the treaty still falls far short of the two-thirds margin of support required for ratification.
Conservative activists fear that Senate Democrats will try to force a new vote to embarrass Mr. Bush for isolating the United States from traditional allies in Europe and Japan on the issue while framing the debate in terms more favorable to the Kyoto treaty.
Sen. Joseph Lieberman, a prominent advocate of the treaty and the running mate of treaty champion Al Gore in last years contest with President Bush, has been leading discussions in the Senate aimed at forcing the administration to re-engage in the Kyoto negotiations.
"He is very concerned that if we do not engage in efforts to curb the slow overheating of our planet, we could face potentially dire consequences," said Kelly Moore, spokesman for the Connecticut Democrat.
Treaty proponents in the Senate have made "no final decision on how best to proceed to get the U.S. re-engaged on this issue," she said.
While Mr. Lieberman is concerned like Mr. Bush about possible adverse effects on the U.S. economy, the United States must continue to be at the negotiating table to preserve its interests, she said.
"Its hard to see how our interests will be represented if we take our marbles and go home," she said. "The recent votes in the United Nations where the U.S. didnt get two seats on important commissions is an indication of the potential consequences of our disengagement."
Mr. Lisaius said charges that the president has withdrawn from international discussions on the issue are wrong. The administration has said it will offer a new approach to tackling global warming at the next session of negotiations over the Kyoto treaty scheduled for Bonn, Germany, in July.
"The president takes the issue of global climate change very seriously," Mr. Lisaius said. "Were reaching out for a broad diversity of views and will continue constructive dialogue on this issue."


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