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Thursday, March 26, 2009

Ron Kirk asked to explain Obama’s position on U.S. climate tariffs

Kirk asked to explain Obama’s position on U.S. climate tariffs
by Tina Seeley, Bloomberg, March 26, 2009

Republican lawmakers asked U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk to explain the Obama administration’s position on imposing tariffs on imports from countries that aren’t limiting greenhouse gas emissions.

Representative Joe Barton of Texas, the senior Republican on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and three other Republicans questioned the policy in a letter to Kirk today that was posted on the committee Web site.

The lawmakers said their concerns stem from statements Energy Secretary Steven Chu made at a March 17 hearing, during which he said tariffs could be considered as a way to handle an competitive “disadvantage” for U.S. companies competing with businesses in nations that don’t try to limit carbon emissions.

“To our knowledge, Secretary Chu’s comments represented the first public statement by an Obama administration official that the United States is contemplating duties or tariffs on imported goods manufactured in countries that do not participate in emissions reduction schemes,” the lawmakers wrote.

President Barack Obama, in an effort to fight global warming, has set a goal of cutting carbon-dioxide emissions 80 percent by 2050 from 1990 levels. Former President George W. Bush cited the lack of participation by nations including China and India as part of his rationale for not supporting the Kyoto Protocol, an international treaty limiting emissions.

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