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Mr. Chairman, I want to commend you on holding this hearing today on global warming. This hearing will provide an important forum in which Members of the Committee can examine for themselves the arguments surrounding this important issue.
Mr. Chairman, your personal views on this matter are well known and they have no doubt played a role in the budgetary actions that the Committee and the House has taken over the past nine months. However, I would point out that this is the first hearing that has been held on global change this Congress. I would like to provide for the record a summary of hostile budgetary and policy actions the Committee has already taken this year. I would hope that the Members would have an opportunity to reconsider these as our bills reach the Conference stage.
Clearly, the environment has been a bipartisan issue over the past several decades. All of the landmark environmental statutes such as the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, NEPA, RCRA, Safe
Reauthorization to name a few were signed into law by Republican presidents and passed with bipartisan support in Congress. This continues to be an area Federal activity that the public strongly supports. It is ironic that systematic dismantling of environmental . research and environmental statutes has now been held up by the Republican leadership as a litmus test for ideological purity. I hope in the end good sense will prevail.
The Global Change research program was in fact established by the Bush Administration. The budget approved for Global Change in 1990 envisioned an ongoing budget of about $2 billion for all of the agencies involved. The budget adopted by the Clinton administration is in fact slightly below this. Why was this program so strongly supported by two administrations? The answer is simple--economics. The consequences of global warming may be several percent of the world's GDP! The cost of avoiding global warming may also be several percent of the world's GDP! Given the enormous costs and benefits, it makes eminent sense to do the necessary research to find out as much as we can about global warming--how much, how soon and even if it will occur.
I would also like to include for the record a recent statement by Frank Nutter, President of the Reinsurance Association of America
global change--even if we do nothing to curtail carbon emissions--will provide a pathway to help us make the transition in an economically efficient manner. Some of these adjustments may be substantial.
The policy we have followed of targeting environmental research, belittling the possibility of any impacts, and so on will not make the problem go away, it will only put us on a slower track to understanding the problem. Meanwhile, the Europeans are making major investments in energy conservation and alternative energy sources, the Japanese are making major investments in environmental technologies, and the rest of the world is positioning itself for the future. We will not only lose the intellectual lead, we will lose markets that may never be regained.
Mr. Chairman, once again, I commend you for having this hearing although I personally wish we could have had this hearing nine months ago before we committed ourselves to a course of action on this Committee. I look forward to the testimony today.
US Global Change Program Cuts
The cut to the Mission to Planet Earth Budget eliminates all
identifies Topex satellites in his testimony as having provided
The PM and Chem satellites would provide information on atmospheric chemistry including aerosols. The Topex satellite provides data on ocean circulation and sea measurements.
The Committee eliminated the Global Climate Change research account and merged it with the Interannual and Seasonal Climate research account. This was done despite the Committee's recognition that "OAR research on important climatic processes, such as El Nino, has benefitted from research done under the broad heading of climate and global change." (p.32 of the Committee Rpt. on H.R. 1815) NOAA is directed to focus their research only on understanding nearand mid-term climatic events.
The Committee also decreased the funding for High Performance Computing by $5.5 M as compared to the FY 95 level (an 85% decrease). This cut will cause NOAA to default on its contract to procure a Supercomputer to improve global change modelling and other modelling needs of the Agency.