Interim Joint Committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources

 

Minutes of the<MeetNo1> 5th Meeting

of the 2007 Interim

 

<MeetMDY1> November 14, 2007

 

The<MeetNo2> 5th meeting of the Interim Joint Committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources was held on<Day> Wednesday,<MeetMDY2> November 14, 2007, at<MeetTime> 1:00 PM, in<Room> Room 154 of the Capitol Annex. Representative Jim Gooch Jr, Chair, called the meeting to order, and the secretary called the roll.

 

Present were:

 

Members:<Members> Representatives Jim Gooch Jr, Co-Chair, and Tom McKee, Co-Chair; Senators David E. Boswell, Ernie Harris, Bob Leeper, Vernie McGaha, Dorsey Ridley, and Damon Thayer; Representatives John A. Arnold Jr, Dwight D. Butler, Mike Cherry, Hubert Collins, Tim Couch, Mike Denham, C. B. Embry Jr, Keith Hall, Richard Henderson, Jimmy Higdon, Reginald Meeks, Brad Montell, Tim Moore, Fred Nesler, David Osborne, Don Pasley, Tanya Pullin, Marie Rader, Rick Rand, Tom Riner, Brandon Smith, Jim Stewart III, Tommy Turner, Ken Upchurch, Robin L. Webb, and Susan Westrom.

 

Guests:† Mr. James Taylor, Senior Fellow, Heartland Institute; Viscount Christopher Monckton of Brenchley, International Political Consultant; Ms. Joyce Kinder, Commercial Angler; Dr. Jon Gassett, Commissioner, and Benjy Kinman, Fisheries Director, Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources.

 

LRC Staff:† Tanya Monsanto, Committee Staff Administrator; Lowell Atchley, Hank Marks, and Lindsey Murphy, Committee Assistant.

 

Rep. Gooch recognized Rep. Cherry and Senator Boswell for the introduction of guests.† Then, the subcommittee chairs delivered their reports.† Sen. Thayer delivered the report of the Horse Farming Subcommittee; Rep. Denham delivered the report of the Rural Issues Subcommittee; and Sen. Harris delivered the report of the Natural Resources Subcommittee.† All three reports were approved.

 

Then Rep. Gooch called for a motion and a second to adopt the final report of the Interim Joint Committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources.† The report was adopted.† Rep. Gooch stated that he chose to put together a meeting that looks at opposing view to accepted climate change theory.† This viewpoint has been popularized in the press.† He stated that citizens must be good stewards of the earth, but stop promoting hysteria and start asking important questions.† First, are we ignoring important problems like can we convert food to fuel and second, do policymakers consider practicable solutions rather than responses that will harm us further.

 

Rep. Gooch introduced Lord Monckton who was is an international consultant and former policy advisor to Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. Lord Moncktonís presentation slides are available in the LRC library.† In summation, Lord Monckton stated that temperatures arenít exceptional because there have been other periods of warming and cooling throughout history.†† Documented changes in temperature are caused by nature rather than humans. There are other explanations for warming such as solar flares.† Lord Monckton stated that the United Nationís International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is flawed.† The IPCC doesnít utilize a peer review process that is inclusive of alternative points of view and even if the earth is warming from carbon emissions there is very little the United States can do to stop it because of the growth of nations like China. Finally, he suggested that the United States concentrate on other issues and seek adaptation to warmer climate rather than try to abate carbon emissions.

 

Rep. Cherry thanked the speaker for his presentation and then criticized the chair for not giving environmentalists an opportunity for rebuttal.† Rep. Cherry stated that he has heard as much anti-climate discussion in the press promoted as scientific truth.† Rep. Gooch responded stating that the position against current climate change theory is not popular.† Pro-climate change ideas are promoted in schools and in the media.

 

Rep. Pullin stated that she is concerned about the policy decisions that will impact the price of electricity, but we addressed those concerns in House Bill 1 by requiring carbon readiness. Common sense says that humans have an impact on the environment. We have an ongoing and constant responsibility to treat this earth as well as we can and make our time on earth as clean as we can.

 

Lord Monckton addressed Rep. Pullin's comments by stating that there is no way to predict future weather changes very far into the future.† Rep. Gooch asked if nuclear war had been considered in the content of the data that the Viscount presented to the committee. Lord Monckton conceded that nuclear explosions do have the ability to alter the climate for a short period of time.

 

Rep._____ asked why we don't hear from scientists who oppose the popular theory on global warming and climate changes. In response Lord Monckton stated most scientist are quietly doing their research and publishing it; however, politicians have taken one side and given it a voice. The scientific journals where scientist research is peer reviewed and published is where one should look for answers to the question on climate change.

 

James Taylor from the Heartland Institute supplemented Lord Monckton's presentation. He addressed the real world impacts of global warming and issue of consensus among the scientific world.

 

Mr. Taylor began by addressing the claims made in the mainstream press in regards to global warming theory. ††The movie, An Inconvenient Truth, presented the idea that hurricanes are increasing both in frequency and intensity due to global warming. Science does not support this theory.† The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) on November 29, 2005 in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina the NOAA issued a press release to rebut the theory that Hurricane Katrina was caused by global warming. Mr. Taylor read a quote from the NOAA. "NOAA attributes this increased activity to natural occurring cycles in tropical climate patterns near the equator." This analysis was available when this movie was produced, but it was ignored by the film makers. Mr. Taylor went on to present several studies that supported the statement made by the NOAA.

 

Next, he addressed the issue of drought in correlation with climate changing.† Mr. Taylor presented articles to support the idea that there is no expansion of the desert in Africa it is actually retreating. This is allowing vegetation to reclaim much of the Southern Sahara Desert and is making farming viable again for residents of that area. Many families have returned to this area because of its stable climate cycles.

 

Another issue Mr. Taylor wanted to address was the oceanic conveyer belt shutting down and plunging the world into a new Ice Age. He produced articles that stated there was no significant change in Atlantic Ocean circulation to date.

 

Mr. Taylor moved to his second topic which was consensus among the scientific community in regards to global warming and climate change. He produced copies of the "Oregon Petition", a twelve page document authored by two academics. More than 19,000 scientists have heard about the study and taken the time to find the study.† Finally they signed the document in support of the theories made in this document. Therefore, it is apparent that 19,000 scientist have rebutted the idea that the scientific community is in agreement with the theories presented in the mainstream media.

 

He produced another survey where more than 500 of the world's leading climate scientist responded to several questions regarding global warming and climate change. The first question was, "Are human's primarily responsible for recent global warming?" A little over half of those polled said yes. Many of the scientists who believe humans are responsible primarily went on to say that such warming is not alarming.

 

Next, he addressed the question, "Does the science support the issue of turning global warming over to policy-makers?" According to the world's leading climate scientist the answer is no. According to Mr. Taylor during the 20th Century the moderate climate changes have actually benefited the world's citizens. Predictions of imminent catastrophe are reliant on computer models. The survey asked climate scientist, "Are climate models reliable predictors of future temperatures?" Again less than half of those surveyed said computer models were accurate predictors of future weather. Mr. Taylor stated that computer models can be altered to say whatever you want and scientist taking part in this survey understood that point as well.

 

Then Mr. Taylor addressed the theory that there are no positive benefits of global warming. He stated that only 17% of the world's leading climate scientists say there are no benefits to global warming. When asked, "Will global warming happen in such a manner that it will be rapid that if we don't take action now that we will not have time in the future to mitigate this damage?" Only 1/3 of climate scientist said that action must be taken now to mitigate further devastation. There will be time to gather more science and data to determine the appropriate approach to global warming.

 

Mr. Taylor closed by addressing the two studies that support the opposing side in regards to global warming. He stated that scientist who tried to replicate the Respis Study, which is presented in the movie An Inconvenient Truth. They were unable to replicate her findings. They found little evidence to support the theory that people were causing a rapid and increase in global temperatures when they did a scientific database search.

 

He closed with comments on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). IPCC is a United Nations' body not a scientific organization but a political organization. IPCC participants are not chosen based on scientific expertise. To be a member of IPCC you need the nomination of a political entity of government that is a participant in the United Nations.

 

Rep. Gooch asked the speakers to stay in the audience for a questions and answers period but wanted to allow the final presenter on the agenda to address the committee first.† He asked Joyce Kinder to address the committee in regards to commercial anglers and specifically testimony about paddlefish.

 

Ms. Kinder represents Kinder Caviar, her family business since1984, and the Kentucky Association of Independent Fisherman. Dr. Jon Gassett, Commissioner and Benjy Kinman with the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources were also present to address Ms. Kinder's or the committee's comments or concerns.

 

Rep. Gooch asked Ms. Kinder if changes in state regulations had changed how she does business, or new people applying for commercial licenses, or has it affected existing commercial license holders? Her response was that in August the Indiana Department of Fish and Wildlife asked their Kentucky counterpart to shut down commercial fishing but they did not.† However, the KDFWR did suspend the sale of commercial fishing license because they did not know what impact it would have on Indiana if their residence came to KY to buy commercial fishing licenses. Ms. Kinder stated Kentucky residence should have priority to purchase commercial fishing licenses issued by the state before residence of any other state.

 

Rep. Gooch asked her "So in other words you are not able to fish because you can't buy the license now to do what you have been doing in the past, is that the issue?" Only those who have held licenses in the past can be licensed now. The Department of Fish and Wildlife will not issue licenses to any new applicants.† Ms. Kinder stated she is affected because it is keeping her from bringing on new employees.

 

Rep. Gooch asked Dr. Gassett and Mr. Kinman to come to the table and address the issues presented by Ms. Kinder. Commissioner Gassett stated that the temporary moratorium that has been put into place on the issuance of new commercial fishing license is a protective measure in light of what some of the surrounding states that have adjoining jurisdictions have done. Surrounding states are tightening their regulations and without this protective measure we would see a flood of non-residents trying to secure commercial licenses that would compete directly with Ms. Kinder and other commercial anglers. The hold on issuing license or permits to new commercial fisherman is temporary.

 

Jurisdiction is a tricky situation on the river. The KDFWR tries to enter into cooperative agreements with adjoining states but with varying regulations it becomes exceedingly difficult. KDFWR tries to get states that are going to allow commercial fishing to happen to agree to the same set of rules so that law enforcement officials can enforce the laws and so that fisherman know what is and is not allowed. There will be more public meetings that will look at proposed regulations that are similar to what other states are doing so there is consensus. However, there is considerable disagreement among the various parties of commercial fisherman that has different interest and hopefully the public meetings will allow those groups to reach an agreement.

 

Rep. Pullin asked, "Where exactly is Paddlefishing taking place? Is it just in the Ohio River and is it the entire Ohio River or other rivers too?" Mr. Kinman responded that it is 680 miles of the Ohio River that is open to the gear that Paddlefish are susceptible to. There is also a limited fishery at Kentucky and Barkley Lakes from November to March. Ms. Kinman added that some lakes in southern Kentucky have a limited catch and Mr. Kinman confirmed that.

 

Mr. Kinman explained that the department's goal at this time is to regulate the harvesting because it is an unlimited entry which means anyone can fish it and it is an unlimited harvest. There are only five states in the nation now that allow the commercial harvest of this species. KDFWR's goal is the prolonged sustainability of this fishery. KDFWR does not feel that can be done without instituting regulations now.

 

Rep. Webb was recognized by the chair and stated, "This is another type of fallout to the global economy. We have seen the same thing happen in almost every industry that we have, but my question is who in the world would knowingly eat anything from China?" Ms. Kinder responded that 1 billion dollars worth of seafood are purchased outside the United States but most of that can be provide here without purchasing it from other sources.

 

Rep. Gooch thanked Ms. Kinman, Dr. Gassett, and Mr. Kinman for their testimony.† Then he asked Sarah Lynn Cunningham of the Sierra Club and Mr. Andy McDonald from Appalachian Science and the public interest to come to provide their rebuttal testimony of that provided by Lord Monckton and Mr. Taylor.

 

Ms. Cunningham stated that she could not respond to all the scientific accuracies or the lack there of at this time. Mr. McDonald read his statement first which was copied and then made available to the members of the committee. He stated that in 1979 the National Academy of Sciences published its first major study about global warming and stated that a wait and see approach may not leave us enough time to react. He asked the committee to consider the sources of information provided by Mr. Taylor and Lord Monckton. In 2004 the Journal of Science published a study that analyzed 928 peer-reviewed scientific articles published over a ten year period known as the Arescus Study. The Study looked at articles that addressed issues related to global climate change. How many of these articles question the basic scientific consensus that greenhouse gas emission from human activities is causing the planet's temperature to rise? The answer was zero. Mr. McDonald stated that Kentucky's dependence on coal for cheap electricity has caused us to lag behind the rest of the country in dealing with the issue of climate change.

 

Rep. Henderson was recognized by the chair. "I want to comment on both of the presentations from all parties involved. They are very well spoken but I did not grow up with a scientist for a father or a grandfather by any means but I did grow up to respect my environment and what I put into my environment comes back to haunt us if we are not careful. I was taught when I was growing up to respect our streams and not put filth and chemicals into them. When you cut a tree in the forest we plan another one back. When we remove our mountain tops our environmentalist make sure we protect those rivers and streams and plumb down to the little eels that run in our creeks in the country. So I think we should be very reserved as legislators before we jump into something whole heartedly and get into the rhetoric between the partisan scientific studies and when I was here early in the year and I voted to expand our alternative fuels we did that with the reservation that we would protect the environment and I stand firmly behind that as do the rest of my legislator friends, and we should really look at the environment and should not make any, any, any decision off the cuff. Thank you."

 

Rep. Webb was recognized by the chair. "I thought we would be wrapped up. I just wanted to make a few points. Earlier on a more conciliatory nature, sort of against my nature, but in this debate we are losing sight on some of the things we can agree on. The Viscount named natural resources depletion, environmental degradation, security of energy and water supply. I think that is what the General Assembly has been doing. I think that is what we have been doing. I think that is what we are continuing to do, and we all agree on those three things. All these parties here today. I think we have been addressing that. My goal here is to not lose sight of the big picture and that is a balanced energy policy that sustainable. That allows us to have electricity, because the way it is going now folks, by 2020 we may not have that grid capacity. We all need to work together on this. My mom used to say I was paranoid but I like to think heightened awareness instead of paranoia and in this issue I think that applies too. We are not going to stop pursuing a balanced energy policy. I think a lot more things will start happening. Fossil fuels are a transitional fuel for generations to come whether you count reserves or resources. That is limited in scope. We are foolish to rely totally on it. We have got to invoke conservation efforts all these things have to be part of the picture. I don't want to get so wrapped up in this sometimes partisan even scientific debate that we lose sight that all these things are important. No matter how inextricably intertwined these three things we agree on are with climate change or carbon sequestration or capture which I think has got to be at least part of a visionary plan for our energy future. We can't let this created issue maybe so to speak I hope you are right, but I don't know that and it is our job to make policy. It is our job to make policy. Just like some of the institutions you represent would like not to have government to do anything. If you poll any group of professions they don't want us meddling in their business. That is not a surprise to me the quote earlier that the scientist don't want us meddling in their business, but that is our job that is what we are elected to do. It is a heavy burden. We don't enter into it lightly. Let's not let the partisanship or the character of individuals cloud the big picture, and that is all I am asking. We have got to work together and let's keep the conciliatory attitude on things we can agree on. Thank you for the debate. The awareness issue alone is worth something regardless of what side you are on. I appreciate that and I appreciate being recognized. Thank you Mr. Chair."

 

Sen. Harris was recognized. He spoke regarding the theories that were prevalent when he was a child and the weather cycles that have been document throughout history.

Ms. Cunningham urged the committee to look at all the data before any policy decisions are ever made.

 

Sen. Boswell was recognized by the chair. He spoke regarding House Bill 1. He also spoke about bills on the federal level of Government that should be of interest to the committee members.

 

Rep. Pasley pointed out that both Lord Monckton and Mr. Taylor are not scientist and have no background in this subject area. Rep. Moore was recognized by the chair and stated that people are responsible to be good stewards of the environment. He also urged the committee to think about how policies can affect those citizens of the world who are less fortunate.

 

Rep. McKee was recognized by the chair. He expressed his concern about the topics chosen for the meeting. He thanked the speakers for their participation but thought a more comprehension approach should have been taken.

 

Rep. Nesler was recognized by the chair and made the motion to adjourn