The Byrd Hagel Resolution

Public Law 105-54

As members of Congress learned more about Kyoto Treaty, they became increasingly concerned over its effect on our economy. In July 1997, five months before Kyoto was ratified, Senators Robert Byrd, a Democrat from West Virginia, and Chuck Hagel, a Republican from Nebraska, introduced a "sense of the Senate" resolution that expressed opposition to the proposed treaty. The so-called Byrd-Hagel Resolution (Public Law 105-54) passed by a vote of 95 to 0.

The resolution called the exemption of developing countries "inconsistent with the need for global action on climate change" and "environmentally flawed." It also stated that exempting those countries "could result in serious harm to the United States economy, including significant job loss, trade disadvantages, [and] increased energy and consumer costs." It went on to state 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

Critics add that Kyoto would reverse a decades-long trend toward lifting regulations on business and put government planners back in control of economy. In the past, "top-down" planning has often led to regulations that discouraged innovation and programs that funneled money to projects that made no economic sense. Kyoto could impose top-down planning on a worldwide scale. Furthermore, emissions-reduction measures could seriously diminish the quality of Americans' lives. S. Fred Singer and Dennis Avery explain:

Kyoto members would have to politically ration the lighting, heating, and refrigeration for their homes, schools, hospitals, factories, and businesses. Transportation for manufactured 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; and (2) any such protocol or other agreement which would require the advice and consent of the Senate to ratification should be accompanied by a detailed explanation of any legislation or regulatory actions that may be required to implement the protocol or other agreement and should also be accompanied by an analysis of the detailed financial costs and other impacts on the economy of the United States which would be incurred by the implementation of the protocol or other agreement.*

In spite of the Senate's action, President Clinton sent Vice President Al Gore to the negotiations in Kyoto and later signed the protocol itself. However, his signature had no legal effect because Article II, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution provides that the ratification of a treaty requires a two-thirds vote of the Senate. Facing strong opposition to Kyoto in the Senate, Clinton never submitted it for ratification. President George W. Bush, Clinton's successor, cited the Byrd-Hagel Resolution as one of the reasons for not ratifying the treaty.

* The Byrd-Hagel Resolution, Public Law 105-54, Available online at http://thomas.loc.gov/ cgi-bin/query/D?c105:1:./temp/~c105P0dAbr::

goods and off--season fresh fruits and vegetables would be sharply curtailed. Tourism might be possible only for the winners of a "travel lottery." Standards of living would plummet, with far fewer good jobs, fewer attractive lifestyle choices, and fewer ways to improve human health.8

Some advocates of free markets see government regulators as an even bigger threat than global warming itself.

Finally, Kyoto's drafters were too ambitious. They set out to change the industrialized world's energy-use patterns in 15 years, about as long as it takes a city to prepare for the Olympic Games. That is far from enough time to redesign an energy infrastructure that is currently designed around fossil fuels. Thus there is the danger that government officials will act hastily and commit their countries' economies to costly and inefficient technology. Patrick Michaels and his coauthors observe: "Beyond 50 years, we have little, if any, idea what the energy infrastructure of our society will be. To highlight the folly of any such projection, compare the energy-related concerns of 1900, when pundits cautioned that major U.S. cities would be knee-deep in horse 'emissions' by 1930 unless we saw fit to 'act now,' with those of 2000. We simply cannot predict our future."9

Continue reading here: Kyoto is unworkable

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  • ines
    What concerns does the senate have with the treaty of ByrdHagel Resolution,?
    2 years ago