Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Brother Sanders Travelin’ Global Warming Show (UPDATE - Questions Limited)

To prove that he does believe in recycling, Arkansas News Bureau columnist David Sanders brought his fifth installment of his continuing saga on the Governor’s Commission on Global Warming to his readers today. I have been following this story but have not posted anything up to this point because, one, there is really nothing to add that has not already been said in Sanders’ five columns and, two, the whole subject of global warming bores me to tears.

But I fought through the pain this afternoon to head down to the state capital where the saga all came to a head at an “informal meeting” to allow some of the dissenting voices on the commission to speak. David Kinkade followed the on again off again nature of this hearing on the Arkansas Project yesterday. The powers that be at the legislature finally decided to let the minority report be heard after Sen. Kim Hendren boldly declared, “I'm having the meeting if I'm the only one there." A compromise was finally worked out that the “informal meeting” could take place but it would not count as an official hearing, sort of like when the NFL plays a pre-season exposition game or something.

True to his word, Sen. Hendren was at the hearing this afternoon flanked by a handful of his colleagues which just happened to be overwhelmingly Republican. About twenty of so legislators sat at the half empty committee tables while a standing room only crowd gathered at the back of the committee room. I took my seat next to a smiling David Sanders in the press area.

The meeting began with Commission member and an environmental economist from UALR Richard Ford. Ford said that the commission proceeding were conducted in such a way as to not allow for any dissension other than what was being advanced by the Center for Climate Strategies. Troubling to him was the fact that the commission did not even consider the economic impact as part of their study. There was no cost benefit analysis done on the recommendations of the Commision.

Paul Knappenberger from the Science and Public Policy Institute spoke next on the environmental impact (or lack of impact) of greenhouse emissions on the Natural State. Knappenberger went into great detail as to how the greenhouse emissions has greatly increased in Arkansas over past one hundred years while at the same time the climate has not changed, in fact the overall temperatures have decreased. The overall point of his presentation was that limiting greenhouse emissions, as the Commission’s Final Report recommends, will have no impact on the climate of Arkansas.

Of course, I do have some video of the hearing but my battery went dead so it is not much, but I will upload what I have this evening. The main thing I walked away from the meeting with was a disappointment in our Democrat legislators to even show up and listen to the other side. For all the bipartisan talk that tends to fly around, not nearly as many Democrats took the time to attend the meeting as did Republicans.

UPDATE – No Questions Allowed!

As a “lunch break blogger,” I was only able to stay for the first 40 minutes or so of the meeting. I like to see the end of these meetings as this is usually when the committee members will have a question and answer time and is often the most interesting part of the meeting. However, with this meeting, the excitement is what did not happen.

According the Minority Leader Rep. Bryan King, the legislators wanted to ask questions but they were not allowed to do so. Sen. Percy Malone, who was chairing the meeting, said that this was a meeting to present information only and not a forum for discussion or questions. Rep. King tells the Tolbert Report that he would like to have asked more questions regarding what role the Center for Climate Strategies played in the Commission’s proceeding and was disappointed that no questions were allowed.

UPDATE II – Questions Limited

I have been informed that my first update is not completely right. David Sanders emailed to let me know that the legislators were able to ask questions but they were limited in what they could ask. They were able to ask informational questions to the panel but not able to asking any questions addressing the process of the Commission.

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