Sens. Leahy, Heitkamp, NFU criticize Trump’s withdrawal from Paris Accord | TSLN.com

Back to: News

Sens. Leahy, Heitkamp, NFU criticize Trump’s withdrawal from Paris Accord

Smoke emitting from smokestacks

President Donald Trump announced today that the United States is withdrawing "as of today" from the Paris Accord on climate change.

Trump said the agreement to reduce greenhouse gases, though nonbinding, is unfair to the United States, but added he will be open to renegotiating either the Paris Accord or another agreement under terms that would be fairer to the United States and its workers.

In his statement delivered in the Rose Garden of the White House, Trump emphasized the negative impact that the accord would have on paper, cement, iron and steel, coal and natural gas.

"I was elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris," Trump said.

“We are at our best when we work toward a common goal, and nearly every nation on Earth has agreed to do exactly that. The rest of the world will now move ahead toward a future of clean energy and related economic growth, with us taking a step back from leadership. This great leap backward is another bow to anti-science know-nothingism. Pandering to a handful of billionaires and special interests would impose huge harm upon our generation, upon future generations, and upon our fragile planet. A habitable and healthy planet are not frivolous goals. They are essential, and they require sound and smart stewardship. We cannot change these facts by ignoring science and pretending not to see the clear evidence of climate change.”Patrick Leahy, D-Vt.

Critics of Trump's decision were the first to issue statements.

Senate Appropriations Committee ranking member Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., said, "America gave its word to nearly 200 countries. America stays great when the world knows we'll keep our word. It doesn't make America great to break our word."

"It would be a travesty to squander this moment of world unity, forged through U.S. leadership, and to undermine our early lead in building the new energy economy that promises millions of good jobs here at home," said Leahy, , a former chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee.

"We are at our best when we work toward a common goal, and nearly every nation on Earth has agreed to do exactly that. The rest of the world will now move ahead toward a future of clean energy and related economic growth, with us taking a step back from leadership," he said.

"This great leap backward is another bow to anti-science know-nothingism. Pandering to a handful of billionaires and special interests would impose huge harm upon our generation, upon future generations, and upon our fragile planet. A habitable and healthy planet are not frivolous goals," Leahy said. "They are essential, and they require sound and smart stewardship. We cannot change these facts by ignoring science and pretending not to see the clear evidence of climate change."

"The United States can't remain an energy leader if we aren't even at the negotiating table," said Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D.

"No agreement is perfect, and adjusting our commitments or timetable would have been viable avenues to pursue. But abandoning this agreement altogether is a reckless decision that forfeits an opportunity to guarantee a viable future for North Dakota coal, oil, and natural gas on the global level.

"We have to acknowledge the reality that all countries — the United States included — must work to reduce emissions, and we can do it in a way that maintains a strong future for fossil fuels and renewables by working with other countries to accomplish those goals.

"Yet, with this move, the United States is ceding its leadership role to China. Without a strong U.S. voice pushing to invest in carbon capture technologies, as I've been fighting for, it's also less likely that coal will remain a viable part of our energy mix in a carbon-constrained world.

"Additionally, leaving the deal signals that this administration isn't serious about wind and other North Dakota renewable resources, which businesses and homeowners are demanding more and more," Heitkamp said.

"And it shows a lack of commitment to a true all-of-the-above energy strategy, investment in U.S. companies, and good American jobs across all energy sectors. This agreement isn't a partisan issue. Utilities, energy companies, former diplomats, and more have urged the U.S. to remain in the deal.

"Diplomatically, the United States is retreating. More than 190 countries signed this agreement, and just two opposed it — one of which is Syria," Heitkamp said. "For generations, our country has been a global leader, dictating the conversation around the world on a host of issues. With this move, that now changes, and I fear we'll be left behind on climate and energy issues as well as many others."

Roger Johnson, president of the Democratic-leaning National Farmers Union, said, "Today's decision by the Trump administration is shameful, and it fails to recognize the very real and immediate threats of climate change to family farmers, ranchers, and our nation's food security."

"We can not sustain a viable food system if climate change is left unchecked," Johnson said. "By refusing to limit U.S. greenhouse gas emissions and lead the world in this space, President Trump is allowing increasingly unpredictable and destructive weather to wreak havoc on family farm operations, future generations, and food prices and availability for years to come."

"This action also has enormous implications for our nation's credibility," he added. "It is nearly inconceivable that the U.S. would repudiate sound science that the rest of the world has accepted and abdicate our leadership on an issue of such great importance."

Under the Paris agreement, the U.S. pledged to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 26 percent by 2025, NFU noted.

NFU has been a vocal proponent of the agreement since its ratification in 2015 because many of the actions that would have helped the U.S. achieve that goal would have stimulated economic growth in rural communities, the group added.

"When properly incentivized, farmers, ranchers, and forest owners have tremendous potential to sequester carbon and contribute to the mitigation of climate change," said Johnson. "By taking away the opportunity for such revenue streams, the president has stripped rural America of valuable opportunities to confront the current farm crisis and stem the exodus of young people from rural communities."

The president's move leaves the U.S. without an effective strategy for climate resilience, exposing family farmers and ranchers to the worst effects of climate change, Johnson said.

"This will have devastating consequences for family farming and ranching operations and all those who rely on them for food, feed, fuel and fiber," said Johnson.

"NFU will seek opportunities to collaborate with nonprofits and private industry to address climate change productively. Decisive action is urgently needed to avoid catastrophic climate impacts on the food system," he concluded.

–The Hagstrom Report