Touting the strong position of natural gas in any newinitiatives to reduce global warming, former Sen. J. BennettJohnston urged support for an early action program to give creditfor companies taking early steps to reduce greenhouse gasemissions.

While the Kyoto Treaty is not likely to be ratified by theCongress, the Administration “has signed on to its goals,” andthere is a strong possibility there will be some further mandatesto reduce emissions. That prospect encourages companies to holdback on emissions improvement projects now since that would meanthey would go into any program with a lower baseline which theywould have to reduce even further.

Johnston pointed out that while the Kyoto Treaty would berejected, there was increasing evidence of global warming caused bygreenhouse gases that this nation will have to address. Recentlypublished studies show “temperatures in the 1990s have been thewarmest in six centuries; five of the warmest years of the centuryoccurred since 1990, with 1997 the warmest year on record; andAugust was the eighth consecutive month to set a worldwide recordfor average high temperatures.”

Johnston emphasized two points, first that “greenhouse gasescontinue to accumulate at alarming rates. The skeptics can say allthey want, but the greenhouse gases are there, they’re measurableand we can quantify them. Secondly, there is an increasingconsensus among climate scientists that the observed increase intemperatures is neither an isolated phenomena nor randomvariations.”

Johnston said he wanted to eliminate the disincentive forcompanies to act now before the legislative and regulatorymachinery cranks up to address the problem.

The former chairman of the Senate Energy Committee was thefeatured speaker at the 30th anniversary luncheon of the NaturalGas Roundtable in Washington.

The Interstate Natural Gas Assoc. of America also is supportinga bill sponsored by a bipartisan group of senators to allowemissions credits to be used later for voluntary reductions now.

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