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Special Report

'Special Report' Panel on Renewable Energy Sources and the G8's Plan to Reduce Greenhouse Emissions

This is a rush transcript of "Special Report With Brit Hume" from July 8, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN CORNYN, (R) TEXAS: The best thing we could do, at least in the short t erm, as we take steps to conserve, as we continue to do what we need to do in terms of developing alternative fuels and alternative energy sources is to produce more of our resources here at home.

SEN. HARRY REID (D) MAJORITY LEADER: Domestic production, as much as we suppor t domestic production, is a very, very tiny part of the needs of this country as it relates to energy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIT HUME, HOST: Renewables, that's what we need, and solar, and wind. You heard Boone Pickens just a little while ago. He is investing in wind power.

So where is this debate going or what can even come of it? Some thoughts from Fred Barnes, executive editor of the Weekly Standard, Mara Liasson, national political correspondent on national public radio, and the syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer, Fox's contributors all.

Well, where are we in all this? Republicans believe they have the high ground politically, I guess. And they are pressing for more drilling. Will they be blocked entirely? You got Harry Reid even saying we support more domestic production.

FRED BARNES, WEEKLY STANDARD: Yes, he does it though. Look, I think it is a stalemate. I would have thought that at $4.00 or $4.10 a gallon for gasoline, that that would force Democrats to go along with public opinion and lift the moratorium on oil exploration drilling offshore and in the oil shale area by the Rockies and in ANWR, but I was wrong. It hasn't.

Democrats want to blame the oil companies, raise taxes on them and Republicans want more drilling. But Democrats are in control of congress. Now may be a $5 a gallon or $6 a gallon, Democrats will change their tune.

But right now, it looks like these efforts by Republicans and the president to lift the restrictions on exploration and drilling for more oil and gas aren't going to get anywhere this year.

MARA LIASSON, NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO: Yes, I agree with that. They probably won't get anywhere this year. But there is a kind of — it's funny, there's both a stalemate and an emerging consensus that you have to do a whole lot of things to solve the energy crisis.

HUME: More of everything.

LIASSON: More of everything; alternative fuels, you know, hydrogen- celled cars, wind power and with some, more domestic production. I think that in the end, if you're ever going to get any kind of compromise out of congress, it's going to have to include all of those things.

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Look, everybody says that if you do what the other guy wants it's only going to have a small impact. But as you say, if you do them all, you can have a major impact.

It is not rocket science. The reason that the price is high is because demand is too high and supply is too low. Democrats say well, if you drill offshore and in the Arctic it won't come on-line for half a decade. Well, of course they said that 12 years ago when President Clinton when he vetoed it.

But at the same time, Democrats, liberals are arguing that we ought to have radical changes in our economy in order to achieve changes in global warming, which is a speculative objective, which even the liberals admit is not going to happen for 20 or 30 years.

So, they have a 20-year time line on that and no time line at all on drilling. You've got to drill, which can have a significant impact. If you do the arctic and you do oil and shale and you do offshore, within half a decade we would probably have on-line enough to replace half of our non- North American imports, which would make a huge impact on our economy and security.

On the other side, I would give the Democrats and liberals a bone on this. One senator has proposed a reduction in the speed limit. I would be in favor of that. It will save about 60 cents a gallon in driving at high speeds. It could be almost a dollar a gallon. It will have a significant impact in reduction of consumption and it will have a minor impact on convenience.

It is worth it. There is a crisis and we ought to do every thing.

If Republicans and Democrats give each other what the other wants, we could really have a plan.

HUME: The Rasmussen Reports tracking poll on congressional approval, this is people who think Congress is either doing a very good or a good job hit 9 percent. 52 percent thought a poor job.

KRAUTHAMMER: Because Congress is doing nothing.

HUME: Is this, do you think, largely responsible for that?

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER: Well, it's obviously — it's a part of it.

HUME: Excellent and good is 9 and fair is 36. That's — I guess it'll take some of the 52 hit. It's the worst ever. Is this the main reason you think?

BARNES: Charlie, one of the reasons is — I mean Congress is already unpopular. I think this has made Congress more unpopular.

Look, most of the things, except setting a limit, reducing the speed limit, which would drive most Americans crazy, if you did that that, look if we can drill — it is unpopular.

Americans have a lead foot, Charles.

In any case, it was a joyous time for Republicans when they voted to override the president's veto on a highway bill because it lifted the 55-mile-an-hour speed limit.

But look, we are doing all these other things. The mileage standards have been raised. The technology industry in America is now investing billions and billions of dollars into alternative fuels. And the government is doing a lot but one thing we are not doing is drilling.

Harry Reid can say that but that's not true. Harry Reid couldn't have said anything more inaccurate than what he said. Look, the estimates are by — the Energy Information Administration says gas and oil are — decades from now still going to make up 85 percent of American's energy needs, 85 percent.

HUME: Well, we got a related issue to talk about next. That's the G8 leaders saying they're going to do something about global warming. When we come back, we'll find out what.

Stay tuned.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's time to get a consensus that all of us have a responsibility to do something about it, not just some so, but all of us so that whatever we do is effective.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HUME: Well, that was the president before going to the G8.

Well, at the G8 today the leaders agreed — this is the eight big industrialized nations, the richest nations on earth that they would have a goal of cutting greenhouse gases by 50 percent by the year 2050. There were not any intermediate targets about what they're going to do by 2020 and 2030 and so on.

A lot of environmental groups were not happy about that. What about this, Fred? Is this doable? Will it happen? Or is it just bunk?

BARNES: Brit, I haven't told you this but by 2020, I'm going to lose at least ten pounds. If you're around, you can hold me accountable, but 2050, you got to be kidding. Look, I don't think they need to do anything, particularly without China and India involved, the two industrialized countries.

HUME: They were supposed to be included in this.

BARNES: Well, they are supposed to be but they aren't. They haven't said so.

2050, I mean, — in 2050, will people even remember what went on at the G8 summit in Japan in 2008? I doubt it. I think this is pretty much meaningless and that's fine with me.

LIASSON: Look, I think it's hard to believe that this would happen by 2050 especially without China and India. And China and India are the source of kind of everything these days.

They're why gas prices are high because they are source of this big new demand. They're not going away. This isn't going to be a little blip. We've got a whole new middle class and they all want to drive cars.

So it is hard to believe that anything could happen without them. But I don't want to be as negative and really cynical about this as Fred. The fact is —

KRAUTHAMMER: Call him skeptical.

BARNES: No, no. Call me jovial.

LIASSON: The fact is, the president has moved on this. The G8 countries are now in accord on this, which is something that they weren't before. That's a good thing.

HUME: It is to be presumed, by the way I think, that when they're talking about greenhouse gas emissions they're talking about those that come from man. 90 percent of greenhouse gases do not come from anything man does. So I assume they're talking about the 50 percent of 10 percent — 5 percent.

LIASSON: Well, some stuff that's eating the ozone layer.

HUME: Yes, that's been giving us a fever.

KRAUTHAMMER: Let me speak up in the name of negativity and cynicism here. This is complete hot air; it's completely meaningless and I commend the president on getting away with it. He knows it is all rubbish.

The issue is today as it was ten years ago when the senate by a vote of I think 97 sort of tabled

HUME: Yes, 97 to zip.

KRAUTHAMMER: — Kyoto because of the fact that it leaves out India and China. I want to read you what the Minister of Environment and Forests in India said in an event to mark World Environment Day a month ago.

"India is struggling to bring millions of people out of poverty. We cannot accept the binding commitments to cut down greenhouse gas emissions." You can't be more plain and straight than that. India is not going to change.

China is even more adamant because its rulers who remember Tiananmen Square or afraid of any social unrest and if they wreck their economies over this they're going to have huge amounts of social unrest. The hundreds of millions who were raised out of poverty will decline into poverty again.

It's not going to happen unless you have a universal regime with agreement of the Asian countries. All that is going to happen is the transfer of wealth out of the West into India and China as we contract our economies and theirs continue to grow.

HUME: Let me ask this question.

Let us assume that all the necessary steps were taken to reduce these man-made greenhouse gases. Would it have any noticeable effect in your view as these leaders believe it would on the worldwide climate?

KRAUTHAMMER: If you included India and China and did radical reductions, you would have an effect on the emissions of CO2.

HUME: But?

KRAUTHAMMER: Would that have a radical effect or even a significant effect on the environment —

HUME: — noticeable effect?

KRAUTHAMMER: — nobody knows. All the models are speculative. That's why you don't wreck an economy over speculation.

BARNES: It is not science. What they did is a computer projection that says the planet is going to be fried like a frying egg sometime in the century. So far this century, there hasn't been any global warming at all.

HUME: What about that, Mara? It's a political matter, isn't it?

LIASSON: I think it's a political matter. There is an extraordinary consensus that global warming is a fact, that it's man made and something needs to be done about it because at whatever rate the Polar ice cap is melting, it's not a sustainable thing.

And I think this is not going away. This is on the agenda.

HUME: You mean the North Polar ice cap.

LIASSON: Yes. This is on the agenda. It is not going away. I do think that just the fact that the president of the United States has moved so far on this. This is not where he was.

Before, he might see it cynically —

BARNES: It is 50 years away.

KRAUTHAMMER: We've been told that Antarctic ice is actually increasing.

All this stuff is as of now speculative and it requires a lot of more information and research before you do a radical economic change.

HUME: That is it for the panel.

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