Knollenberg Fights Implementation of Unratified Global Warming Treaty

Published September 1, 1999

“A slap in the face of the Senate,” is how Representative Joe Knollenberg (R-Michigan) characterized the Clinton-Gore administration’s refusal to submit the Kyoto Protocol on global warming to the Senate for ratification.

Noting that the administration has been trying to slip funding for the Kyoto Protocol and back-door implementation efforts into numerous nooks and crannies of this year’s appropriations bills, Knollenberg has added his own amendment denying such funding to five appropriations bills: Foreign Operations, Agriculture, Interior Energy and Water, Veterans’ Affairs, and Housing and Urban Development. He plans to add it to the Commerce, State, and Justice funding bill as well.

“We’re trying to put it where back-door implementation could happen,” Knollenberg told Environment News, “so the administration and agencies don’t implement Kyoto.”

Knollenberg’s brief, to-the-point amendment reads:

None of the funds appropriated by this Act shall be used to propose or issue rules, regulations, decrees, or orders for the purpose of implementation of the Kyoto Protocol, which was adopted on December 11, 1997, in Kyoto, Japan . . . which has not been submitted to the Senate for advice and consent to ratification.

Why Stop Implementation?

Knollenberg cited several reasons for preventing back-door implementation of the global warming treaty, which nearly every member of both major parties on Capitol Hill agrees stands virtually no chance of ratification in the foreseeable future.

“Science is not able to discern global warming,” Knollenberg said, echoing the sentiments of every credible climatologist Environment News has found. He noted that studies have shown only a one-degree Fahrenheit rise in global temperatures. That increase, moreover, came before 1940–that is, before large increases in man-made emissions of carbon dioxide.

“A 1992 Gallup Poll of climate scientists in the American Meteorological Society and the American Geophysical Union,” Knollenberg noted in an earlier speech, “asked the question, ‘Has there been any identifiable, human-induced warming to date?'” Of the respondents, 49 percent said no, 33 percent said they didn’t know, and only 18 percent said yes.

Economic considerations are also of concern to Knollenberg. He cited five Department of Energy studies concluding that Kyoto implementation would have a serious, negative economic impact on the U.S. Even the White House, notes Knollenberg, has acknowledged some negative impact. Other studies have confirmed those findings.

Knollenberg also agreed that the treaty’s effect on European economies would be minimal, since those nations have insisted that they be treated as a group–the “European Bubble”–under the agreement, rather than as individual nations. That makes it comparatively easy for them to meet the treaty’s requirements. Kyoto’s benchmark year for emissions is 1990; since that time the British have stopped burning heavily polluting coal and now burn cleaner natural gas from the North Sea, and Germany has closed or cleaned up the heavily polluting East German factories.

Strong Bipartisan Support

As we go to press, the amendment appears to stand a good chance of passing with each bill to which it has been attached. Knollenberg said “We don’t just have bipartisan support, I’d say we have strong bipartisan support.” [emphasis his]

Representative John Dingell (R-Michigan), who has consistently demonstrated an ability to influence Democrat votes in the House, is a strong supporter of the amendment. It also has the backing of numerous labor unions, industry associations, businesses, and consumer groups.

An even more stringent measure to limit Kyoto implementation has been introduced by Representative David McIntosh (R-Indiana). Sources say its support is not as broad, but McIntosh’s proposal might influence final language of the measure to prevent implementation.