House Cuts Administration’s Global Warming Funding Request

Published September 1, 1998

In the first Congressional showdown over funding for the Clinton administration’s global warming initiatives, House opponents of the Kyoto Protocol slashed $106 million from the President’s $205 million request for EPA climate change programs.

The 52 percent cut in EPA’s FY 1999 share of the administration’s Climate Change Initiative (CCI) came as a bitter pill to treaty proponents, who sought the additional funds to help win public support for the beleaguered Kyoto Protocol.

The administration did succeed in eliminating from the EPA funding bill a proposed ban on agency-sponsored global warming “educational” activities. By a vote of 226 to 198, the House approved an amendment sponsored by Rep. David Obey (D-Wisconsin) to delete from the bill language that would have barred EPA from holding seminars and promoting public discussion of global warming policies.

Even in this small victory, however, there may be more style than substance. EPA’s $7.4 billion budget includes plenty of “public awareness” programs, through which the agency can disseminate the administration’s global warming message under a variety of guises. By lifting the “gag” order on global warming educational activities, Kyoto treaty opponents sacrificed little.

House members’ refusal to approve the administration’s CCI funding request reflects widespread concern that the White House may try to implement the Kyoto Protocol by means other than ratification. While pleased that the EPA funding bill was stripped of the “gag” order on global warming, EPA Administrator Carol Browner expressed disappointment that the bill cuts funding “from the president’s request for reducing the pollution that contributes to global warming.”

Climate change was not the only Clinton administration program to fall under the House’s budget knife. Members also rejected the administration’s request for an additional $650 million for Superfund, arguing the money would be ill spent unless and until the troubled hazardous waste cleanup program is thoroughly overhauled.