Administration Attempts End-Run on Kyoto Protocol

Published April 1, 1998

Two months after the Kyoto Protocol was declared “dead on arrival” by a chorus of Congressional critics, opponents of the controversial global warming treaty now fear the administration is implementing the accord by regulatory fiat.

Only now are treaty opponents beginning to appreciate the means at the administration’s disposal to circumvent the U.S. Senate and impose substantial portions of the Kyoto Protocol. Among the avenues open to the administration are:

  • issuing broad interpretations of existing environmental statutes and regulations such as the Clean Air Act (CAA) and Toxic Release Inventory (TRI);
  • altering government procurement policies through executive orders to favor the purchase of goods and services deemed compatible with the Protocol;
  • funneling climate change research grants to recipients who are likely to produce results favorable to the administration’s global warming policies;
  • awarding grants for “studies” to friendly environmental groups to help spread the word about the alleged threat posed by the burning of fossil fuels; and
  • spreading the climate change message in the nation’s schools through EPA’s environmental education program.

As far-reaching as those steps might be, they represent only the beginning of the White House’s full-court press on Kyoto. The administration’s FY 1999 budget proposal contains a $6.3 billion package of research grants and tax credits designed to entice the business community to take the administration’s side in what is undoubtedly the most explosive environmental/energy use conflict the nation has ever seen.

Dubbed a “hodge-podge of corporate welfare” by Angela Antonelli and Brett Schaeffer of The Heritage Foundation, the package is the first installment “in circumventing the Senate’s constitutional role.” “If the White House can entice Big Business with tax-funded payoffs,” the two recently wrote in The Washington Times, “it can implement the treaty without the Senate’s cooperation.”

Alerted to this growing possibility, Representative David McIntosh (R-Indiana), chairman of the House Government Reform and Oversight subcommittee on Regulatory Affairs, announced on March 2 that he plans to scrutinize the Clinton administration’s regulatory agencies to ensure that they do not attempt to implement by regulatory fiat the Kyoto Protocol without the Senate’s ratification.

McIntosh said his monitoring of federal agencies will include inquiries and hearings to determine whether there are attempts to implement the Kyoto provisions before the Senate considers the treaty. He added that his focus will also include the treaty’s economic impact on businesses and the working families they employ.

“Senate Republicans and Democrats have made clear that the Kyoto agreement goes too far in mandating emissions standards.” McIntosh said. “While President Clinton and Vice President Gore are at an impasse in the Senate, I will not allow the administration to circumvent the Senate through back-door regulations that hurt the economy and threaten jobs.”

“Many industries such as coal, auto, mining, aluminum, petroleum, transportation, and rubber will be adversely affected by these mandatory limits,” he said. “The proposed reductions within the Kyoto treaty would cause economic stagnation and require minute government involvement in people’s daily lives.”

“The Clinton administration should direct its attention at Senate ratification rather than regulatory efforts to foist this treaty on the American people.”

McIntosh’s hearings into what is being referred to in Washington as “implementation without ratification” will begin in April.