Statement by Senator Craig Thomas
Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works
Oversight hearing on United States Climate Control Policy
July 10, 1997

Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for taking the time to schedule this hearing to discuss the Clinton Administration's policy on global climate change. As world negotiators prepare for meetings in Bonn later this month, with an eye toward Kyoto, Japan, in December, it is critical that we do all we can to make sure the scientific facts are available and credible. Using good science, rather than emotional rhetoric, ensures we will be spending our limited resources on actual problems.

As some of my colleagues may know, both the Energy and Natural Resources and the Foreign Relations Committees have had hearings on this topic. I am a member of both and, if there is one thing I can report, it's that the science at this point is not "clear and compelling." Furthermore, there is currently no consensus that would compel us to rush into an agreement that will hurt America's economic competitiveness for questionable benefits. Nevertheless, the Administration already seems to have its mind made up by stating that "the science is over."

Before the United States enters into any formal binding agreement, we must first be sure that the effects of global warming are real and the economic consequences are better understood. Unfortunately, the Administration is withholding the fine print details of its proposal from the American people. To the extent that there is a global warming problem, all countries must participate and play by the same rules. If this does not happen, the result is a diminished American economy and a worse worldwide environment. Everyone ought to contribute to the cause. Asking all nations to contribute will help the environment, help U.S. industries stay competitive, and help build new exports as we send our environmental technology and expertise around the globe.

I have repeatedly stated my opposition to legally binding targets and timetables on the U.S. and other developed countries to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, while at the same time exempting heavy polluters like China, India, Mexico, South Korea and Brazil from those identical requirements. It doesn't take a genius to figure out that they will not have to meet the uncompromising restrictions that will be placed on our industries. Mr. Chairman, by the product of government regulation, we could potentially drive the relatively cleaner U.S. industries out of business, thus increasing emissions of dirtier plants in undeveloped nations. That just doesn't make sense.

I am an original cosponsor of Senate Resolution 98, introduced by Senators Byrd and Hagel, calling on the Clinton Administration not to agree to any measure which would commit the U.S. to a binding international treaty for developed countries, but exclude those standards on China, India, Mexico and others. Although we should instantly work to reduce air pollution around the world, this must be done in a manner that does not threaten jobs or our international competitiveness. I am pleased to report that 62 of my Senate colleagues share this same view and have cosponsored this important initiative.

In closing, Mr. Chairman, we have some expert witnesses and I look forward to their testimony. I would hope that they expand their comments and touch on the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) particulate matter and ozone rule which President Clinton recently endorsed. Although 250 members of Congress, 27 Governors, the U.S. Conference of Mayors and many state and local officials and business leaders alike have expressed disapproval and opposition to the new standards, the president turned a deaf ear. I, for one, believe the impacts of a binding global climate treaty, coupled with the EPA's new air regulations could prove devastating to America's energy-intensive businesses, our Gross Domestic Product (GDP), American jobs and our global environment. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.