US Senate Panel Begins Work on Greenhouse Gas Cuts
- US Senate Panel Begins Work on Greenhouse Gas Cuts
USA: July 22, 2005
WASHINGTON - A senior Senate Republican said on Thursday he will pursue
legislation that may eventually require US industry to cut gases linked
to global warming, a view sharply at odds with the White House and many
However, crafting legislation that would reduce emissions without being
too costly to the US economy will not be easy, said Pete Domenici,
chairman of the Senate Energy Committee.
The United States is the biggest emitter of carbon dioxide, one of
several greenhouse gases blamed for melting glaciers and rising sea
The New Mexico Republican said he believes temperatures are rising
because of human activities. But Domenici faces an uphill battle with the
White House and many fellow Republicans, who warn that mandatory caps on
emissions could stunt US economic growth.
"We have too many people talking as if it were simple -- just cut
emissions 10 percent," Domenici said at the first in a series of hearings
he plans to hold on climate change. "I'm looking for a solution but I'm
not going to join the crowd that thinks it's simple."
Domenici said he supports in principle a plan by the National Commission
on Energy Policy (NCEP), a nonpartisan group, for a mandatory
cap-and-trade system starting in 2010.
But Domenici said he wants to delay the mandatory cuts to bring the plan
more into line with the views of the White House. President George W.
Bush supports a voluntary plan for industry to cut greenhouse gas output
per unit of economic growth by 18 percent by 2012.
The NCEP plan calls for US utilities to cut the intensity of their
greenhouse gas emissions by 2.4 percent a year starting in 2010. The
percentage would rise to 2.8 percent starting in 2020.
Plans to require cuts in US emissions of carbon dioxide have repeatedly
failed the Senate.
Domenici also faces a possible jurisdictional turf war with Senate
Environment and Public Works Committee Chairman James Inhofe, who has
dismissed global warming as a hoax and questioned scientific evidence
supporting rising temperatures.
"We're not trying to usurp anybody," Domenici said. "It's just that the
time is now to get people like this to testify."
Scientists urged Congress to act.
"The Earth is warming at a dramatic rate and any claims to the contrary
are not credible," said James Hurrell from the National Center for
Earth surface temperatures have risen 0.7 degrees Fahrenheit since the
early 1970s and could be from 2.5 degrees to 10.4 degrees above 1990
levels by 2100, said Ralph Cicerone, president of the National Academy of
Republican panelists said Congress must consider the US economy when
considering potential greenhouse gas cuts. Bush in 2001 rejected US
participation in the Kyoto pact to limit emissions because China, India
and other fast-growing countries would not be held to the same standard.
"You can sit in your scientific seat ... and not worry about the
economy," Republican Craig Thomas of Wyoming told scientists. "But you
can't do that when you're making the decisions."
Story by Chris Baltimore