Climate Change:

Observations on the April 1999 Report on Climate Change Programs

T-RCED-99-199: Published: May 20, 1999. Publicly Released: May 20, 1999.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO discussed activities relating to climate change programs, focusing on: (1) the Energy Information Administration's report on federal expenditures for climate change activities; and (2) a limitation--set forth in the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) appropriations act for fiscal year (FY) 1999--that was designed to prevent the agency from taking specified regulatory actions to implement the Kyoto Protocol on climate change.

GAO noted that: (1) the Energy Information Administration's report, as required by law, provides multiyear spending data and describes climate change programs and activities; (2) however, it was delivered to Congress on April 20, 1999, about two and a half months after the specified due date; (3) also, the report did not always link its discussion of activities and performance goals to the specific line items shown in the President's budget; (4) the report did not always provide a clear picture of intended performance across federal climate change activities, for example, by specifying--in measurable and quantifiable terms--the outcomes expected to be achieved by federal spending; (5) a provision in EPA's appropriations act for FY 1999 prohibited the agency from taking certain regulatory actions--for example, proposing regulations--to implement the Kyoto Protocol on climate change; (6) to assess the scope of the prohibition, GAO reviewed the legislative history of the act; and (7) GAO believes that the act does not limit EPA's ability to undertake activities that are otherwise authorized by law.

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