TCS Daily

Bush`s Welcome 180 on Kyoto Road

By Jo Ann Emerson - April 9, 2001 12:00 AM

In his book, "Earth in the Balance," Al Gore, when discussing possible opposition to a global environmental body, wrote: "Opposition to change is therefore strong, but this transition can and must occur -- both in the developed and the developing world. And when it does it will likely be within the framework of global agreements that obligate all nations to act in concert."

Well, we got a change, all right. But thankfully it was a change that was better for America. Last week President Bush announced he would reject the Kyoto Protocol.

When I was first selected to serve as a congressional observer for the 1997 Kyoto talks on global climate change, I stated I intended to watch the debate carefully and would evaluate any proposals based on three criteria:
  1. Sound scientific proof.
  2. It would not increase taxes.
  3. Any plan would protect jobs.
Unfortunately, after attending talks in Kyoto, Buenos Aires and the Hague, it was obvious that the previous administration was more interested in pursuing global friendliness than it was in promoting a reasonable and balanced energy policy that addresses the economic needs of people in the United States.

Simply put, from the beginning the previous administration was bent on promoting a treaty that, according to a study by the independent Wharton Econometrics Forecasting Association, would increase gas prices in Missouri by 50 cents a gallon, eliminate 43,000 jobs in Missouri and also increase energy prices 50 percent to 60 percent -- and that was before we found ourselves in the economic distress we are experiencing because of our current energy crisis.

At that point, some of us in Congress set out to give the then-administration a dose of reality. Small Business Committee chairman Jim Talent and I held hearings in Malden where folks like Steve Heddle at Noranda Aluminum, the largest user of energy in Missouri, shared that the New Madrid facility could be forced to move jobs out of Missouri.

Charlie Kruse, president of the Missouri Farm Bureau, noted that farmers and agribusinesses would all feel the pinch of expenses that could rise as much as $20 billion and cost farmers up to 48 percent in net farm income.

Likewise, small business owners like Steve and Judy Wallace of Malden said those higher energy costs would cause a ripple effect in local economies that would result in higher prices at the grocery store for consumers, many of whom are seniors already living on a fixed income and feeling strapped because of rising prescription drug and energy costs.

We took those comments -- plus the multitude of mail and calls we received -- and sat down and went to work on a strategy to stop the backdoor implementation of this costly and dangerous treaty.

The result was two successful years of legislative actions where Congress sent a clear message: No part of the Kyoto Protocol would be enacted through regulatory fiat. This eventually led to various amendments like the one I authored in last year`s agriculture appropriations bill that prohibited funds in the bill from being used by the administration to enact new, onerous and costly regulations.

Thankfully, the hard work has paid off. The road has been long and somewhat rocky. But the Bush administration put sound science ahead of politics and pulled out of the Kyoto Treaty. I applaud the decision, and I believe southern Missouri will be better because of this bold move.

The action is a step in the right direction, and I am confident that, working together, we will be able to construct a reasonable and workable plan that respects the needs and interests of all and ensures our competitiveness abroad.

Jo Ann Emerson of Cape Girardeau is the U.S. representative from Missouri`s 8th District.

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