House Energy and Commerce Committee

Energy and Air Quality Subcommittee

Administration Perspectives on United Nations Climate Change Conference in Bali

2123 Rayburn
Thu, 17 Jan 2008 15:00:00 GMT

The House begins a new round of global warming hearings this year.

  • James Connaughton, chairman, White House Council on Environmental Quality

E&E Coverage:

CLIMATE: Key Republican deals blow to House Dems’ emissions plans (01/17/2008)

Darren Samuelsohn, Greenwire senior reporter

The top Republican on a key House subcommittee signaled today he won’t support a global warming bill that puts mandatory limits on heat-trapping greenhouse gases.

“While I feel strongly that addressing climate change is certainly important, I believe we must address this through a global, voluntary framework that focuses on innovations in technology rather than a pure government mandate,” said Michigan’s Fred Upton, the new ranking member of the House Energy and Air Quality Subcommittee.

Upton replaced former House Speaker Dennis Hastert of Illinois this year as the senior Republican on the panel that is tasked with writing climate legislation. During last year’s global warming debate, Hastert’s efforts and comments raised some Democrats’ hopes that he would support a bipartisan agreement on curbing U.S. emissions.

But Hastert resigned from Congress late last year, leaving an opening for Upton, an 11-term lawmaker from Michigan’s southwestern corner.

In his opening statement at the subcommittee’s first hearing this year, Upton poured cold water on the prospect that Democrats will get help from the top of the Republican roster.

“At the end of the day, we’ll need to demonstrate that the price paid in both jobs and dollars equates to some tangible environmental benefits to the American people,” Upton said. “In my view, spending trillions of dollars and losing a countless number of jobs, to maybe alter temperatures by a tenth of a degree, while China and India continue to spew emissions is not the option that we’re looking for.”

Democratic leaders of the House subcommittee and full committee did not outline a specific schedule for crafting a climate bill. But they did promise they would make an effort early this year to write and pass legislation establishing a cap-and-trade program that limits U.S. emissions.

In his own opening statement, House Energy and Commerce Chairman John Dingell (D-Mich.) affirmed his goal of getting GOP backing as he led the writing of a climate bill.

“This will require bipartisan cooperation, and I hope that my friends on the other side will come to the task with an open mind,” Dingell said.

While committee leaders are seeking bipartisanship agreement on the controversial bill, it wouldn’t necessarily be required to pass the measure out of the full Energy and Commerce panel where Democrats have a five-seat majority.

In an interview, Dingell said he didn’t want to comment on Upton’s remarks at the start of the hearing.

Upton wasn’t the only Republicans on the House panel who raised concerns about a cap-and-trade bill. Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas), the full committee’s ranking member, questioned the underlying science linking humans’ emissions to climate change. CEQ chief testifies

Also during the hearing, Dingell nudged President Bush’s top environmental adviser, Jim Connaughton, who submitted a one-page opening statement for the hearing, plus a month-old slide show and past statements by President Bush.

Passing a climate bill “will require as well the active engagement of the administration, which remains to be seen,” Dingell said. “Judging from the rather thin testimony presented to the subcommittee by our witness today, however, I am less than optimistic.”

Connaughton, chairman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, told lawmakers his brief written remarks shouldn’t leave the impression the administration was making light of the climate issue.

He testified the U.N. agreement reached last month in Bali – which commits developed and developing nations to reaching a deal by 2009 that succeeds the Kyoto Protocol – is now Bush administration climate policy.


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