Media Matters Misleads on CEI’s Horner, Kyoto & Global Warming

Media Matters is criticizing the Competitive Enterprise Institute’s Chris Horner for saying, on the Fox New Channel’s Your World with Neil Cavuto, that ratification of the Kyoto global warming treaty was not a high profile for President Bill Clinton during the Clinton Administration. The Media Matters headline reads: “On Fox’s Your World, CEI’s Horner Misled on Kyoto, Global Warming.”

Media Matters says, in part:

On the June 13 edition of Fox News’ Your World with Neil Cavuto, Chris Horner, counsel for the oil industry-funded Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), claimed falsely that the Clinton administration chose not to submit the Kyoto Protocol to the Senate for ratification because it did not consider global warming a “high-profile issue.” In fact, Senate Republicans made clear at the time that Clinton would not be able to garner enough votes in the Senate to ratify the treaty…

Objecting to former President Bill Clinton taking credit for efforts to curb global warming during his presidency, Horner claimed that Clinton “set the U.S. policy, which was [that] for the final three years of his presidency, the U.S. would not seek participation in — that is ratification of — Kyoto.” Horner made the claim to advance his suggestion that the Kyoto Protocol, a treaty mandating that countries reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, “was not a high-profile issue or a priority issue for the Clinton administration, like, say, school uniforms. It was not even a low-priority issue, like, say, finding Osama bin Laden.”

But, contrary to Horner’s assertion, it was in fact Senate Republicans who made clear that they would not ratify the Kyoto treaty. As The Washington Post reported on December 11, 1997, just before the Kyoto agreement was reached, key Senate Republicans declared the treaty “dead on arrival…”

The Washington Post on December 11, 1997 may indeed have said, as Media Matters later demonstrates, that “key Senate Republicans declared the accord ‘dead on arrival,’ and a leading Democratic supporter urged that the Senate delay a vote in light of its bleak prospects.” However, the saying of a thing is less important than the doing of the thing.

The “doing of the thing” occurred July 25, 1997 with passage of the Byrd-Hagel Resolution (S. Res. 98). Byrd-Hagel “express[ed] the sense of the Senate regarding the conditions for the United States becoming a signatory to any international agreement on greenhouse gas emissions under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change,” that is, told the Clinton-Gore Administration what 95 out of 95 Senators present and voting were prepared to vote to ratify in a global warming treaty expected to emerge at the then-upcoming December 1997 global warming conference in Kyoto, Japan.

Byrd-Hagel was approved 95-0. It says, in part:

Resolved, That it is the sense of the Senate that–

(1) the United States should not be a signatory to any protocol to, or other agreement regarding, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change of 1992, at negotiations in Kyoto in December 1997, or thereafter, which would–

(A) mandate new commitments to limit or reduce greenhouse gas emissions for the Annex I Parties, unless the protocol or other agreement also mandates new specific scheduled commitments to limit or reduce greenhouse gas emissions for Developing Country Parties within the same compliance period, or

(B) would result in serious harm to the economy of the United States…

President Clinton approved a Kyoto Treaty that violated two out of two of these bi-partisan Senate requirements. Then Clinton declined to put up a fight to get the Senate to change its mind.

It seems to me that Chris Horner is right and Media Matters is wrong to criticize him. Senate Republicans may well have told Clinton Kyoto couldn’t be ratified, but Senate Democrats — indeed, 95 out of 95 Senators present and voting in July 1997 — told Clinton the very same thing. And, if Clinton disagreed, he didn’t do much to fight them.

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