TCS Daily

Bartlett's Familiar Quotations Needed at Marrakech: A TCS Interview

By Sallie Baliunas - November 8, 2001 12:00 AM

Congressman Roscoe Bartlett of Maryland recently sat down with Tech Central Station co-host Sallie Baliunas to discuss climate change and the ongoing climate change talks in Marrakech .

Rep. Bartlett serves as Chairman of the Energy Subcommittee of the Science Committee. He has also been named to chair the Panel on Morale, Welfare, and Recreation (MWR) of the Armed Services Committee and he serves on the Small Business Committee as its Vice Chairman .

Sallie Baliunas: Well, good morning, Mr. Bartlett, and thank you. I`d like to start with a question about the Kyoto process because the Seventh Conference of Parties is ongoing in Marrakech as a continuation of the Kyoto process. What`s your assessment of the Kyoto protocol?

Rep. Bartlett: Well, clearly there has to be some equity in our effort as a group of nations around the world to combat pollution. The United States is very disadvantaged by this protocol. We are as interested in the environment as anybody, but we can`t be asked to shoulder most of the burden for improving it. We need as a group of nations around the world to get together, but we need to get together an agenda that is fair to all of the participants and this is not fair to the United States.

Sallie Baliunas: Do you think that because we`ve had this framework in place and this concept in place for so many years and we`ve been negotiating, do you think it`s affected U.S. energy policy and has it affected it in a positive or negative way?

Rep. Bartlett: Well, I don`t know how much this has affected energy policy nationally, but in terms of the average person in the country or the average business in the country, they didn`t even know the existence of this. We are now much more energy focused than we were previously. The threat of rolling blackouts in California was never realized this summer and that`s simply because the people of California, without anyone telling them they had to do it, reduced their electric consumption by eleven percent. That type of conservation is just phenomenal and it was not anticipated.

I think that the threat of environmental pollution, the threat that the energy may not be there, is affecting our energy policy. I think that it needs to affect it even more than it is, but there certainly has been some effect.

Sallie Baliunas: And then what would you ask for in an effective energy policy for America?

Rep. Bartlett: Well, for America, well I think we need to have a focus on conservation. I think we need to have a focus on efficiency and I think that we need to have a major focus on renewable sources of energy so that we are not so dependant on foreign oil. Now we get fifty-six, fifty-seven percent of our oil from overseas. That`s up from thirty-four percent at the time of the Arab oil embargo.

You know, shame on us that it went from bad to worse. And we really have no national energy policy that is really adequately focused on getting us out from under this enormous dependence on foreign oil. And a lot of that dependence, by the way, is on Arab oil.

Sallie Baliunas: Yes, and you mentioned the California electrical situation earlier this year and now the war on terrorism has really highlighted the fragility and the vulnerability of our dependence on some of these sources of foreign oil. Now I understand that you have some upcoming hearings that would address this issue on oil dependence.

Rep. Bartlett: Well, we have one in just thirty-six minutes now that will be focused on energy and transportation, which is where a lot of our oil is used.

Sallie Baliunas: And I think your topic, though, is a very aggressive one. It`s to really look hard at the issue of how we can get away from the dependency on oil.

Rep. Bartlett: Oh, as a national security interest we must do that. I serve on the Science Committee where I am Chair of the Energy Subcommittee. I serve on the Armed Forces Committee, Armed Services Committee, and it`s really a national security issue. You know, it`s not just an economic issue.

That too, were the Arabs to cut off our oil our economy would collapse. It really would collapse. We get twenty percent . . . twenty percent of the oil we use comes from the Arab world and we could not, we could not, make it without that oil. And in addition to the enormous economic impact, it`s really a national security impact.

Sallie Baliunas: Yes, indeed. And it`s not only in the Arab world but some of the other sources of oil also from time to time may be unreliable depending on local political situations.

Rep. Bartlett: That is true and if you`re looking at Arab oil much of that comes through the Straits of Hormuz and a single terrorist act in sinking a tanker there would cut off most of the oil from that region. And you know, whether . . . they might want to sell us the oil, we might want to buy it, but if you can`t get the tankers through the Straits of Hormuz; we can`t get the oil. You know that is really a choke point. We are really, really very vulnerable.

Sallie Baliunas: Right. And I guess finally there`s a question back on Kyoto again. Now you and your colleague, Congressman John Peterson, have just sent a letter to the President about the Administration`s position on Kyoto and what was the purpose of this?

Rep. Bartlett: Well we were commending the President for his position on Kyoto. You know, he is not going to put the United States at a disadvantage by agreeing to that and we were just encouraging him to hang tough. I think we have sixty-two signatures now on that letter and we are, you know, complimenting the President for his good common sense and decision and encouraging him to hold tight.

Sallie Baliunas: I appreciate that very much. Thank you.

Rep. Bartlett: Thank you very much.

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