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WEDNESDAY, MARCH 10, 1993
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
Washington, DC. The subcommittee met, pursuant to notice, at 10:09 a.m., in room 2218, Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. Philip R. Sharp (chairman) presiding.
Mr. SHARP. The subcommittee will please come to order. The purpose of today's hearing is to bring ourselves up-to-date on the global climate change issue. We will hear a summary of the state of the science, what is known and what is not known. We will hear about the global nature of this problem and the U.S. contribution, and about the relative contribution of various gases both now and in the future.
We will hear about the status of international diplomacy on this issue-what has been agreed to, what the next steps are, and what it means for the United States. And finally, we will learn about policy options for reducing global warming and for adapting to it, for the United States and for the world.
Global climate change and domestic energy policy are, obviously, closely related. Our domestic energy policy must take into account the risk of global climate change, and our international global climate change policy must take into account our domestic energy needs. Thus, in order to do our work it is very important for our subcommittee to develop a common understanding of global climate change.
Once the new administration has an opportunity to begin to implement the provisions of the Energy Policy Act that are related to global warming, we will have oversight hearings on their plans. This hearing will help prepare us for that task as well.
As people may remember, we specifically in our consideration of the National Energy Policy Act last year focused very heavily in this subcommittee and in the Energy and Commerce Committee on questions of global warming, and while we did not adopt a regulatory program, we did analyze every proposal in the legislation to try to determine its impact, and in all cases try to do no more damage and to try to improve the situation relative to reductions of CO2 and other global warming gases.
In addition, there are specific provisions in the legislation. We have a cost sharing transfer of technology program. We have a voluntary accounting program for an industrial actor in the United States who may want to get ahead of the curve, in case the Congress adopts a regulatory program. We have a number of explicit reports that will be due, and, of course, we took a number of measures in terms of conservation and efficiency that will pay off in terms of many goals, but in particular for global climate change as well, and we tried to put an emphasis on cleaner fuels that will also help us in the future.
But none of these provisions in our Energy Policy Act were in and of themselves dramatic steps on the global climate change, and it is something that we intend to monitor very closely and see that we are at least doing those things that are cost effective and make sure that we are carrying out what policy is on the books.
With that let me recognize my colleague, my new colleague, from the State of Washington. If he has any opening remarks, we would be glad to hear from him.
Mr. KREIDLER. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Chairman, I would first like to express my thanks to you for holding these hearings. This is an extremely important and timely topic. I look forward to the testimony from some of the Nation's preeminent scientists in the field of global climatic change.
In particular, I would like to welcome Dr. Jae Edmonds of Battelle Pacific Northwest Laboratories, which is in Richland, Wash. Dr. Edmonds is reputed to know as much as anyone in the world on this topic, so it is a great opportunity to have him here before the subcommittee.
I hope our discussions with these scientists will help me understand what we can do in a State like Washington to combat greenhouse emissions. Due to our reliance on hydropower we have been below the national emissions average, but our levels are, unfortunately, increasing rather rapidly. This trend is of particular concern because Washington State's natural resources and hydrobased electricity systems are extremely vulnerable to change due to weather patterns generally, and specifically snow and rainfall patterns.
One method of combating emissions which I hope the witnesses will discuss is the voluntary emissions reductions programs administered by EPA, the so-called "green" programs. I am particularly interested in your thoughts on the role of these types of programs in supplementing mandatory regulations.
In my district, Boeing and Puget Sound Power and Light are integrally involved in EPA's greenlights, methane reduction and improved building design programs. Indeed, Boeing, which has been an industry leader on this issue, estimates that its participation in these programs will reduce greenhouse emissions by millions of tons a year and will save millions of dollars in energy costs.
The success of companies like Boeing is, I think, a part of the reason the administration has proposed increased funding for these types of programs. I look forward to hearing the views of the witnesses on whether these moneys are well spent.
Again, I would like to thank the Chair for calling this hearing and raising a very important issue, and I look forward to the discussion on these issues from the witnesses.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. SHARP. I thank the gentleman, and we are now pleased to welcome our distinguished panel. We have with us, first, Dr. Daniel Albritton, the Director of NOAA's Aeronomy Laboratory; Dr. Jae Edmonds, as was already mentioned, with the Battelle Pacific Northwest Laboratories; Mr. Bill Nitze, who is President of the Business Council for a Sustainable Energy Future; and Dr. Irving Mintzer, who is a Senior Research Scholar with the Center for Global Change at the University of Maryland.
Gentlemen, we are very pleased to have you here. Several of you have been here before and you are aware of our processes. Any written materials you have will be printed as a part of our record and we would be glad to have your oral statement at this point. I might indicate that we hope to be joined by other of our colleagues. We are competing with two other Subcommittees of the Energy and Commerce Committee now, one on children's television where Lamb Chop is making an appearance and the other, Chairman Dingell is having an oversight hearing on EPA where the new Administrator is making an appearance.
I might ask my colleaguewe are just about to begin statements, if he had an opening statement he wished to make, I would be delighted to give him that opportunity. I am pleased to recognize Mr. Hastert from the State of Illinois.
Mr. HASTERT. Well, thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I want to welcome the witnesses this morning to our hearing on global climate change. Global climate change and energy policy are inseparable issues, and I am pleased to see that this subcommittee is involved in the debate.
While this hearing should serve as a primer—what is the state of science, what emission levels and trends are projected, what is the status of the international negotiating process—the administration's recent decision to review the United States' position on climate change may make this topic less academic. The Draft National Action Plan submitted by the Bush administration at the most recent I.N.C meeting asserts that primarily through implementation of the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990 and the Energy Policy Act of 1992 the United States can stabilize the so-called "greenhouse gas” emissions at 1990 levels in the year 2000.
Most recently President Clinton has proposed a Btu tax, which he states will increase the United States' ability to meet the 1990 goal. Given this, even after it is reviewed, it is unclear why the administration would feel a need to propose additional measures, but I guess we will have to wait and see.
It is true that experts in the scientific community feel that industrialization has increased the concentration of atmospheric greenhouse gases. What is dangerously absent, however, is a consensus on whether these emissions have brought on a warming of our atmosphere or whether they can be expected to do so in the future.
In my own State of Illinois this issue is closely followed. Illinois like most States has been caught off guard in the past by Federal legislation that put politics ahead of science. And Illinois like most States wants to make sure that any future Federal proposals heed the lessons of history and take State and local perspectives into account when engaging in policy debates such as this one.
In order to study this issue in greater depth, the Illinois General Assembly created a non-partisan "Global Climate Change Program," and I would like to insert into the record at this point a chart that supplements recent data released by the Illinois program.
Mr. SHARP. Without objection. (The chart follows:]