Kyoto Earth Summit Information Center:
Kyoto, Japan - Vice President Albert Gore's speech here today prompted speculation among key congressional leaders that the Clinton Administration may make promises it can't constitutionally keep in order to negotiate a treaty.
Vice President Gore delivered a ten-minute speech in which he said, among other things, that he had instructed the U.S. delegation to "show increased negotiating flexibility if a comprehensive plan can be put in place, one with realistic targets and timetables, market mechanisms, and the meaningful participation of key developing countries."
While his comments gave some environmentalists new hope that a treaty would be signed before the conference concludes, it gave several Members of Congress in attendance cause for alarm.
"I am concerned about the Vice President committing the United States to act regardless of the outcome in Kyoto," said Senator Hagel (R-NE). "This Administration cannot go at this alone. They must work with the Congress and the American people. This Administration cannot ignore the authority given by the U.S. Constitution to the U.S. Senate."
Earlier this year, the U.S. Senate passed a resolution in a 95-0 calling for the Clinton Administration to reject any global warming treaty that exempts developing nations from emissions limitations or that would significantly harm the U.S. economy.
Senator Hagel, who shared a podium with Representatives John Dingell (D-MI) and James Sensenbrenner (R-WI), had other concerns about Vice President Gore's remarks as well.
"For the first time in American history, we would be giving an international body the authority to limit and regulate our economic growth," said Senator Hagel. "But the Administration has been silent [and] the Vice President remained silent today in explaining the consequences of this treaty to the American people."
The biggest irony of the Kyoto global warming conference is that millions of gallons of fuel were burned in the making of this international effort to reduce fossil fuel use.
Journalists travelling from New York, for example, will use at least 203 gallons of jet fuel each for their 15,998 mile, round-trip journeys. The Kyoto Earth Summit Information Center arrived at this figure by examining the manufacturer specifications of one of the planes likely to be used for such travel, the Boeing 747-400. The 747-400 has a long-range fuel consumption rate of 9,950 kilograms of fuel per hour, which translates into 22,111 pounds or 3,300 gallons an hour. Assuming air time of 32.25 hours, 106,435 gallons would be consumed over the course of the round-trip. If both flights to Kyoto and back were at full capacity with 524 passengers -- and this is a big if -- each passenger would be responsible for some 203 gallons of spent fuel.
Travel by other aircraft would require even greater fuel consumption. A DC-10-30, for example, would burn 299 gallons of fuel for every passenger while an L-1011-500 would burn 338 gallons and an MD-11 281 gallons of fuel.
With an estimated 10,000 people participating in the Kyoto conference, jet fuel use alone could easily run into the millions of gallons as Americans and Europeans -- who had to travel great distances -- appear to make up the majority of the conference participants. But even assuming that the average conference participant's journey was just one-half the length of our sample trip, the total jet fuel burned by the 10,000 participants would exceed one million gallons. And this is only the tip of the fossil fuel iceberg: It doesn't include any fossil fuels used for taxicabs, lighting, heating/air-conditioning and other purposes during the event.
In related news, the Drudge Report has reported that Vice President Albert Gore's plane, a Boeing 707, will consume 65,600 gallons of jet fuel at a cost of $131,000 for the Vice President's brief, 24-hour trip to Kyoto.