- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 18, 2007

The ranking Republican on the House’s global warming committee has called on panel members to limit their carbon footprint by flying commercial airlines on an upcoming fact-finding trip to France instead of booking a special military flight.

“A trip with the goal of reducing carbon emissions is undermined if it unnecessarily emits carbon dioxide into the atmosphere,” Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner Jr. says in a letter obtained by The Washington Times.

The letter to Rep. Bart Gordon, chairman of the Committee on Science, says multiple direct flights to Paris from the area’s airports make it necessary for lawmakers to generate extra air pollution using a military jet for a May 3 trip.

“The additional expense to taxpayer is reason enough to justify commercial travel when it presents no significant inconvenience …,” Mr. Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin writes in the April 17 letter, which calls on all future travel by the panel to be commercial when possible.

Mr. Gordon, Tennessee Democrat, said the request is not practical.

“Given that the trip must be conducted over a short period of time in order for members to be available for House votes on the day of departure and the day of return — and in an effort to accomplish a full agenda — a military aircraft is the most practical and expeditious mode of transportation under the circumstances,” Mr. Gordon said.

Mr. Gordon’s office said lawmakers typically use commercial flights when the House is in recess and lawmakers have more flexibility when scheduling such trips.

The members will travel to Paris and meet with an array of government and industry specialists to discuss issues related to energy and energy technology, according to a congressional aide. Republicans who support the trip note that France is a leading user of nuclear power, which does not release carbon emissions into the atmosphere.

It is not clear how many members of the committee have been invited and no formal agenda has been set, according to congressional aides. Mr. Sensenbrenner will not make the trip because of a scheduling conflict.

The Pentagon grants lawmakers access to military planes for travel on a case-by-case basis and for the security of some congressional leaders. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi routinely uses a military charter to travel back to her home district in California.

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