Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Naysayers get a say on global warming

The Morning News

Local News for Northwest Arkansas

Critics To Give Minority Report On Climate Change

By John Lyon
LITTLE ROCK -- The House and Senate chairmen of the Joint Committee on Energy clashed Tuesday over a proposed meeting to hear an alternative view on global warming.

In a compromise, the chairmen decided not to hold an official meeting today but to allow the scheduled speakers to talk at an unofficial meeting at the Capitol, according to the panel's outgoing Senate chairman, who requested the meeting.

The committee had been scheduled to meet today to hear presentations from critics of the Governor's Commission on Global Warming, including a commission member.

The commission last year presented to the governor a report containing 54 recommendations for reducing the state's contributions to climate change, including a moratorium on new coal plants until pollution-control technology improves.

Commission member Richard Ford, an economics professor at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, planned to present a "minority report" at the energy committee's meeting. Ford said Tuesday the commission was charged by law with considering whether global warming is real.

"I don't think we did that," he said.

An announcement in the House chamber Tuesday declared the meeting canceled, but the committee's Senate chairman, Kim Hendren, R-Gravette, said Tuesday afternoon he was not consulted beforehand and he wondered aloud whether the House leadership was attempting to stifle debate on the issue.

"I'm having (the meeting) if I'm the only one there," Hendren told the Arkansas News Bureau.

Sen. Percy Malone, D-Arkadelphia, the committee's outgoing Senate chairman, said late Tuesday it turned out the meeting had been set before the new chairmen were appointed, in violation of committee rules.

Malone said a group that included him, the chairmen and House Speaker Robbie Wills, D-Conway, met and discussed scheduling a meeting for next week, but because some of the speakers were already in town a decision was made to let them speak today in Room 171, upon adjournment of both chambers. The event will not be an official meeting and will be for information purposes only, Malone said.

Malone and Hendren both said they were interested in hearing multiple points of view on the subject.

"I always said, we'll let anybody who has relevant information about a subject matter tell it," Malone said.

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