STATEMENT OF SENATOR DIRK KEMPTHORNE
HEARING ON GLOBAL CLIMATE CHANGE
July 17, 1997

I want to applaud the Chairman for holding this hearing today. The issue of global climate change is certain to be an important one for decades to come. Today's hearing gives us an opportunity to help guide the Administration as it develops its policy on additional measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

I have always believed that fundamentally we are all environmentalists. We all want a cleaner and healthier environment for our children and their children. I have also always believed that the best way to achieve that cleaner and healthier environment is not necessarily through more federal regulation and mandates. I believe that we will get better results faster using incentives, flexible programs, and voluntary initiatives. Those principles have worked with the Safe Drinking Water Act and the Endangered Species Act, and I believe they can and should be applied to the issue of global climate change.

As I understand it, the push for a more aggressive global climate change policy is being driven by evidence that suggests that the global temperature has increased by 1 degree, although it is unclear whether or not human caused activities are solely responsible for that increase. Nor do we know whether it's significant. But the assumption is that we should do something about it anyway -- reduce or freeze greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels. While I won't dispute that conclusion here today, in light of the uncertainty, I think it's important that we not jump to impose more regulations on U.S. businesses, risking jobs and our economy, when we really don't know if we are truly addressing the problem.

We should also be concerned about what the costs of any new policy will, in fact, be and who will bear them. Providing flexibility and greater opportunities for voluntary programs will go a long way to controlling unnecessary costs and increasing acceptance of any new policy.

Just as importantly, we should not put our U.S. industries at a competitive disadvantage with their competitors in international markets. Climate change is truly a global issue and the solution must be a global one as well. If the United States is going to agree to mandatory reductions, our Treaty partners, including developing countries must also. That's only fair.

Ultimately, the workability and cost of any new policy will be determined largely by the specific target levels and compliance schedules that the Administration negotiators decide to accept. So, I look forward to hearing from the witnesses this morning what those targets and schedules might be and how the Administration plans to implement any new policy.