Business Daily | 05/07/1998
Editorial E D I
T O R I A L Kyoto Duplicity
Say this much for
President Clinton: He doesn't let a little thing like the
Constitution get in the way of his policy goals. He wants to
put the Kyoto global warming treaty in place without Senate
was clearly bent on signing the Kyoto pact - no matter the
cost or science. Before the deal was inked in December,
Clinton said, "If we expect others to show restraint,
we must do the same, and we must lead the way."
Vice President Al
Gore sang the same tune in early December: "Whether
there is an agreement in Kyoto or not, the United States is
prepared, under President Clinton's leadership, to
unilaterally take steps that we believe should be taken in
order to deal with this problem."
noted Clinton's white flag and took the U.S. to the
cleaners. The Gore-led delegation went in committed to
cutting emissions to 1990 levels and winning promises of
action from the developing world. The U.S. came out of those
talks agreeing to cut its greenhouse gas emissions 7% below
1990 levels by 2012 without getting developing countries to
do anything meaningful.
The Senate has
already expressed its skepticism in a unanimous vote that
said, in essence, "no developing countries, no
deal." So the White House has refused to submit the
treaty for the Senate's OK.
administration has moved to implement the terms of Kyoto in
an end run around the Constitution.
utilities. Clinton said that deregulation must be done
"in a way that leads to even greater progress in
cleaning our air and delivers a significant down payment in
reducing greenhouse gas emissions."
Environmental Protection Agency memo on that same topic
broadly asserted that the agency "has authority under
the Clean Air Act to establish pollution control
requirements" for carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxide,
sulfur dioxide and mercury (emphasis in original).
Well, no. The Clean
Air Act grants the EPA explicit authority only over sulfur
dioxide. Anything else is a stretch, so that the EPA can, in
its own words, "meet our (Kyoto) greenhouse gas
And the memo hints
that the EPA knows it doesn't have such authority.
"What is needed is smarter, not more extensive,
authority - enhanced authority as to how EPA may control
these pollutants" (emphasis in original).
efficiency. The president announced a partnership with the
building industry on Monday to assure greater energy
efficiency in housing. Over the next decade, he aims to cut
in half energy consumed in newly built homes and slash its
use in existing housing 30%. Clinton officials acknowledged
the program is an attempt to get around Congress' skepticism
on the Kyoto treaty.
* Treaty spending.
On specific budget items dealing with meeting the Kyoto
goals, the administration has been mute. Rep. David
McIntosh, R-Ind., in early March wrote 22 agencies with
climate change as part of their portfolio to ask about these
programs, their purposes and spending levels.
Only five agencies
had replied by the day before McIntosh held a hearing on the
matter April 23. Just 10 of the 22 that McIntosh wrote have
responded as of May 5. The Office of Management and Budget
has not replied to a March 2 letter asking about budget
discrepancies, historical data and the like.
orders . As Eric Peters recounted in the Viewpoint space
Tuesday, Clinton may resort to using dormant executive
orders to carry out global warming aims by decree.
All the while, the
EPA is quietly putting the squeeze on the states.
Democratic state Sen. William Walaska told Congress last
month that the EPA and "other agencies have begun a
concerted effort to exert pressure on state environment
agencies to implement programs designed to meet Kyoto
emission reduction goals."
Walaska referred to
a brochure for a conference the EPA co- sponsored that
proclaimed the U.S. "must now begin designing policies
and programs to meet this (emissions) reduction goal."
The Rhode Islander is far from the only state official
With all these
efforts, it's small wonder that Sen. John Ashcroft, R-Mo.,
introduced a bill last week to prevent spending designed to
help implement the Kyoto accord. And the House is deciding
how to approach cutting funding for Kyoto-furthering
programs on climate change.
It's obvious the
Clinton folks are convinced that cutting greenhouse gas
emissions is needed. Yet they still haven't submitted to the
Senate the treaty they hailed late last year.
They know the
Senate is likely to vote it down. It's too costly and is
based on, to be generous, inexact science. So rather than
trying to defend the treaty on these shaky grounds, the
White House is trying to mask its actions - no matter what
the Constitution says.