During the week of 18-22 September, both chambers of Congress held hearings to review the status of the federal government's initiatives on climate change technology. For its part, the House Science Committee's Energy Subcommittee held a hearing on the Department of Energy's plan for climate change technology. Witnesses appearing before the subcommittee testified that the Administration's effort on climate change technology should be strengthened and expanded. Judith M. Greenwald, representing the Pew Center on Global Climate Change, addressed the plan's failure to include mandatory emission controls, stating that without these constraints, "the potential reductions outlined in this Plan will not be achieved." Ms. Greenwald argued that although the Department of Energy is successful in running research and development programs targeting climate change, these technologies must be deployed if they are to be of value. Subcommittee Chairwoman Biggert (R-IL) argued that the Department of Energy "should be able to tie achievement of technical and deployment goals to greenhouse gas emissions reductions." Biggert also stated that she would like to see the DOE collaborate with environmental organizations, technology groups, and industry in order to gain advice and increase understanding of the science and technology associated with climate change.

Meanwhile, the House Government Reform Committee held a hearing to consider whether there is a need for a department to take the lead on climate change technology research and development or whether the current Climate Change Technology Program (CCTP) is adequate. Chairman Tom Davis (R-VA) opened the hearing by stating that CCTP has no budgetary authority, no direct funding, and as such does not employ full time staff. CCTP shares staff with other offices on an as-needed basis. Davis also noted that research and development funds are not exploring new technologies to combat climate change.

Across Capitol Hill, the Senate Environment and Public Works committee considered the Asia-Pacific Partnership. The partnership is a six-country agreement to share resources and technologies that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions. All the countries involved view it as an alternative to the Kyoto Protocol. Criticism of the partnership centers on its lack of mandates, emission standards, and goals for the future. The partnership has no mandates for greenhouse gas emissions, but calls for over $52 million dollars in continued research and development of new technologies. Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) were among the committee members in opposition to the partnership, because of its lack of goals in the current political climate where states such as California are leading the country on setting tough emission standards.

 


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