McCain and Lieberman Push for New Anti-Global Warming Legislation

BACKGROUND: Senator John McCain (R-AZ) and Joe Lieberman (D-CT) plan to introduce a new anti-global warming bill this week instituting a so-called “cap and trade” system for greenhouse gas emissions.

McCain, incoming chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, has scheduled a January 8 hearing on the new bill. As described by Environment and Energy Daily, the bill would “gradually force major energy, transportation and manufacturing companies to cut their GHG emissions — to year 2000 levels by 2010 and 1990 levels by 2016.”1

TEN SECOND RESPONSE: The theory that humankind is causing significant planetary warming remains dubious at best. What is certain is that laws limiting U.S. energy use will hurt our economy and kill jobs.

THIRTY SECOND RESPONSE: The McCain-Lieberman legislation would set up mandatory greenhouse gas reduction targets for every major sector of the U.S. economy. If approved, it stands a chance of pushing a frail economic recovery into a major relapse, yet it is extremely unlikely to have discernible influence on global temperatures. Scientists point out that the Earth has gone through repeated cycles of gradual warming and cooling for millions of years. This isn’t likely to change under orders from the U.S. Senate.

DISCUSSION: The McCain-Lieberman legislation is no economic stimulus plan. The bill is, however, likely to garner significant media attention and already is receiving support from the environmental left.

“Environmentalists couldn’t be happier to have two high-profile senators challenging the administration’s climate policy,” reports Environment and Energy Daily. “McCain challenged Bush for the Republican nomination in 2000, and Lieberman, a vice-presidential candidate in 2000, is likely to seek the Democratic nomination in 2004.”2

The Senators have bypassed what would most likely be a more thorough hearing in the Environment and Public Works Committee, which normally would have jurisdiction over a climate change bill, in favor of hearings in McCain’s Commerce Committee.

According to a tentative witness list released by the Committee January 7, expected witnesses included: Lieberman; Rep. Jay Inslee (D-WA); Rep. Christopher Shays (R-CT); James Mahoney, Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere and Director, U.S. Climate Change; Eileen Claussen, President, Pew Center on Global Change; Jack Cogen, President, Natsource; Fred Krupp, President, Environmental Defense Fund and Randy Overbey, President, ALCOA Power Generating.

Inlsee and Shays are members of the House Climate Change Caucus, a left-of-center caucus that promotes the view that mankind may be causing the planet to warm as much as 10.4 degrees over the next 100 years, and which promotes legislation according to this view.2 The Pew Center and the Environmental Defense Fund are left-of-center environmental organizations. Both ALCOA and Natsource are for-profit entitles with a business interest in a governmental adoption of “cap and trade” schemes.

Despite making room for profit-making entities, three elected officials on the liberal side of the global warming debate and two representatives of the environmental left, the Committee apparently has scheduled no representatives of organizations skeptical of the scientific reliability of the global warming theory nor any elected officials holding similar views.

The global warming debate has been a high profile one for some time. The Bush Administration received significant political and international attention in 2001 when it wisely rejected the Kyoto Treaty, an action consistent with a 1997 95-0 Democratic-controlled Senate vote urging the Clinton Administration (which ignored the advice) to do essentially the same thing.

It is doubtful that significant man-made global warming is taking place. The computer models used in U.N. studies say the first area to heat under the “greenhouse gas effect” should be the lower atmosphere – known as the troposphere.3 Highly accurate, carefully checked satellite data have shown absolutely no such tropospheric warming. There has been surface warming of about half a degree Celsius, but this is far within the customary natural swings in surface temperatures.4

The vast majority of American scientists who specialize in climate studies – including such giants as S. Fred Singer, former head of the U.S. Weather Service’s satellite operations; Frederick Seitz, past president of the National Academy of Sciences; and the University of Virginia’s Patrick Michaels – believe global warming fear-mongers that project warming during this century of 8-10 degrees are wrong. The U.N. Panel on Climate Change, often cited by environmentalists, bases its projections on worst-case scenarios from two flawed computer models, each of which significantly contradicts the other.

The way to approach allegations that mankind is causing climate change is through research, such as that beginning at Stanford University’s new Global Climate and Energy Project.5 The project is a 10-year collaboration between academia and the private sector to find the clean energy alternatives that will allow reductions in man-made greenhouse emissions without damaging the economy.

Stanford has been supported by $225 million in grants from ExxonMobil, General Electric and Schlumberger and E.On, the European energy distributor. The selection of Franklin M. Orr, Jr., dean of Stanford’s respected School of Earth Sciences, to head the new project apparently has guaranteed its independence to the satisfaction of most mainstream environmental groups.

In the meantime, all eyes are on McCain and Lieberman – which just might be the way they want it.

The National Center for Public Policy Research is a communications and research foundation supportive of a strong national defense and dedicated to providing free market solutions to today’s public policy problems. We believe that the principles of a free market, individual liberty and personal responsibility provide the greatest hope for meeting the challenges facing America in the 21st century.