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  • Paris Climate Change Conference

    by Senator James M. Inhofe

    Posted on 2015-12-09

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    INHOFE. Mr. President, I just found out that supposedly the big party that is taking place in Paris--it is interesting. For those people who are not familiar with this issue, the United Nations puts on a big party every year. This is the 21st year that they have done this. It goes back to the Kyoto treaty and to the fact that through the United Nations they have been trying to develop some type of a thing where global warming is coming and it is going to be the end of the world.

    [[Page S8523]] I remember way back when I was chairing a subcommittee that had jurisdiction over this type of an area, back when this first started. We might remember when Al Gore came back, and they had developed this thing called the Kyoto treaty. They signed it on behalf of the United States, but they never submitted it to be confirmed by the Senate. Obviously, that is something that has to happen. They now are going to go in there to do a climate agreement. It was a real shocker on November 11 when the Secretary of State John Kerry made a public statement that the United States would not be a part of anything that is binding on the United States. The President of France didn't know that. He went into shock. He said that the Secretary must have been confused. They had to reconcile themselves at that time. That was 2 weeks before people arrived for the big party in Paris. They decided that we will put together something where we can have an understanding of what we want to do in the future--nothing binding.

    The reason I am mentioning this now is that this afternoon there is supposed to be a plan that is going to be unveiled that is going to reflect what they want everybody to do with this. I want to keep one thing in mind. The last event I went to was in Copenhagen. They are designed to try to get 192 countries to agree that the world is coming to an end and that we are going to have to do something about cap and trade to stop the global warming. This has been going on for a long time. There are significant problems that remain. The negotiators can't agree on whether it is binding or what part of the agreement might be binding and still comply with our laws and constitutional restrictions. They can't agree on financing.

    This morning, in order to entice the developing countries, Secretary Kerry, on behalf of the President, announced that the United States would contribute another $800 million a year to help developing countries adapt to the effects of climate change. Let's keep in mind that this is in addition to the $3 billion that the President expects Congress to appropriate to this cause.

    Yesterday, in Paris, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy again misrepresented to the international community the EPA's authority and confidence in the U.S. commitments. The highlight of her remarks was her claim that ``the Clean Power Plan will stick and is here to stay.'' When attending international delegates asked questions about their legal vulnerability and the possibility of the future administration changing anything that is adopted by this administration, she reportedly walked around the question and many in the audience were upset that she wouldn't answer the question. The reason she wouldn't is because there is no answer to it.

    I chair the committee called the Environment and Public Works Committee. We have the jurisdiction over these things. When the President came out with the Clean Power Plan, we said: All right, you are saying that you are committing the United States to a 28-percent reduction in CO2 emissions by 2025. How are you going to get there? They wouldn't say. No one to this day has talked about how they are going to do it. He said: Let's have a hearing.

    We are the committee of jurisdiction. I don't recall any time when a bureaucracy that is in a committee's jurisdiction refused to testify, but they did refuse to testify. I think we all know why. We know there is no way of coming up with that type of a commitment. If you have all these costs and what it is going to cost us, does it address climate change? The Clean Power Plan will have no impact on the environment. It would reduce CO2 emissions by less than 0.2 percent. It would reduce the rise of global temperature by less than one one- hundredth of a degree Fahrenheit, and it would reduce the sea level rise by the thickness of two sheets of paper. In fact, the EPA has testified before the environment committee that the Clean Power Plan is more about sending a signal that we are serious about addressing climate change than it is about clearing up pollution. The Justice Department requested that the DC Circuit Court of Appeals not rule on the Clean Power Plan, the principal domestic policy which supports our commitments to the climate conference, until after the conference concludes.

    What they did was they went to the courts, knowing that the courts were going to be acting on this power plan and probably acting against it, and they didn't want that to happen before the party in France. I think it is the biggest signal to the international community that the administration lacks the confidence in their own rules.

    Administrator McCarthy also claimed that the next administration cannot simply undo the Clean Power Plan because of the extensive comment period supporting the rule. The international community is not fooled by this either. Congress disagrees. Not only can Congress withhold funding from any element of an agreement that the administration refuses to send to Congress for approval, but the Congress has explicitly rejected the Clean Power Plan in the bipartisan Congressional Review Act, saying that we do not agree with this and we want to do away with this Clean Power Plan before it is finalized.

    That should be the signal to the people who are at the party in Paris. I think that a lot of them do understand that. Even President Obama is now conceding that specific targets each country is setting to reduce greenhouse gas emissions may not have the force of treaties. He is hoping that 5 years or some type of periodic reviews of those countries would be in the form of a binding commitment. But even if that is the case, that would merely be a review. Although the European Union and 107 developing countries are hoping for a legally binding long-term deal with review mechanisms and billions of dollars, any truly binding agreement must be sent to the Senate for approval.

    Back when they first went down on the Kyoto treaty, we had the Byrd- Hagel rule. The Byrd-Hagel rule says that we are not going to ratify any treaty if it either is bad on our economy or it doesn't apply to countries such as China. So they have to do the same thing that we are doing. That passed 95 to 0. That was way back at the turn of the century.

    Everyone knows that he can't unilaterally do these things, even though he tries. In 1992, when the Senate approved President H.W. Bush's agreement to have the United States participate in the conference of parties--that is the one that is going on right now, the 21st one--the process, any emissions, targets or requirements were going to have to be approved by the Senate. This is the President who was in charge at that time, George H.W. Bush. That was the agreement in 1992, and that agreement hasn't changed. Legally binding agreements must go before the Senate for consideration, and there is no way around it.

    This is the message I conveyed when I attended the COP convention in 2009 in Copenhagen, and nothing has changed since that time. Nothing is happening over there now. They are having a good time. I am sure there are lots to drink and lots to eat, but that party will be over.

    Let me share one experience I had. I have been very active in Africa for a number of years. There is an officeholder in the tiny country in West Africa of Benin. I saw him at the convention that was in Copenhagen.

    I said: What are you doing here? You don't believe all this stuff.

    He said: No, but they are passing out hundreds of billions of dollars, and we want to get some of ours. Besides that, this is the biggest party of the year.

    Enjoy your party over there. Nothing is going to happen. Nothing binding is going to take place on this issue.

    I yield the floor.

    The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Connecticut.


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