CHARLESTON — West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey and other state leaders are praising President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement.
Trump announced the decision June 1, saying the United States will work to negotiate re-entry into the agreement on better terms.
"As of today, the United States will cease all implementation of the nonbinding Paris accord," Trump said. Speaking about possible re-entry, he said, "If we can, great. If we can't, that's fine."
Last week, Morrisey led a 10-state coalition in urging the Trump Administration to withdraw from the agreement that had the potential to undermine President Trump’s fight against overregulation.
“Today’s announcement is a major victory for working West Virginia families,” Morrisey, a Republican, said. “My mission is to continue to fight against unlawful regulations that pose a threat to jobs and the success of the Mountain State.”
In their letter to Trump, the states argued that the Paris agreement stood as a symbol of the Obama-era “Washington knows best” approach to governing.
The letter also said the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Clean Power Plan was the linchpin of the United States’ involvement in the Paris agreement, and therefore, Trump’s decision to dismantle the Power Plan supported the need to withdraw.
Morrisey was a leader of a coalition of state AGs that won a historic stay of the Power Plan at the U.S. Supreme Court and securing a nationwide stay blocking enforcement of the Waters of the United States rule.
West Virginia signed the letter with AGs from Alabama, Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Nebraska, South Carolina, Texas and Wisconsin.
U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito called the decision "the right decision for the American economy and workers in West Virginia and across the country."
"West Virginians have suffered tremendous economic calamity as a result of the Obama administration’s anti-coal agenda, and President Obama should not have unilaterally committed the United States to an international climate agreement without the consent of the Senate," Capito, a Republican, said. "Together with signing a resolution of disapproval to void the Obama administration’s anti-mining stream protection rule, and his decision to reevaluate the EPA’s Clean Power Plan and Waters of the United States rules, today’s action further demonstrates that President Trump is standing with our West Virginia workers and businesses to keep jobs in our state.
"Moving forward, it is important that we keep working to advance new technologies that improve the environment as we continue to utilize our coal and natural gas reserves more efficiently.”
Senator Joe Manchin agreed.
“While I believe that the United States and the world should continue to pursue a cleaner energy future, I do not believe that the Paris Agreement ensures a balance between our environment and the economy," said Manchin, a Democrat. "To find that balance, we should seek agreements that prioritize the protection of the American consumer as well as energy-producing states like West Virginia, while also incentivizing the development of advanced fossil energy technologies.”
U.S. Representative Evan Jenkins of the state's Third District, echoed the sentiments of the others.
“After years of policies that put America second, we now have an administration and president focused on making America competitive again," Jenkins, a Republican, said. "President Trump is keeping his word by pulling us out of an agreement that was all pain, no gain for America’s workers, families and economy.
“The Paris accord puts the United States on an uneven playing field, forcing us to make costly reductions all while countries like China and India make their own rules. The Obama administration has done enough damage to West Virginia’s jobs and our state’s way of life, and saying no to the Paris accord is saying no to Obama’s radical environmental and anti-jobs agenda.”
U.S. Representative David B. McKinley of West Virginia's First District also praised Trump's move.
“President Trump’s decision to withdraw is a bold statement that he will put America first even in the face of intense international pressure,” McKinley, a Republican, said. “The Paris Climate Agreement is a flawed deal that puts America’s energy needs and economic growth on the back burner, while transferring money and power to unelected international bureaucrats.
“Moving forward, the best way to lead on this issue is to prioritize energy research and promote new technologies that will allow countries around the world to use all their resources – including fossil fuels – in the cleanest and most efficient manner.
“I urge President Trump to seize this opportunity and champion technology to provide affordable, efficient and reliable energy. This alternative approach will not only benefit America, but will help the billions around the globe who remain in energy poverty.”
Last month, McKinley introduced a resolution urging the United States to pull out of the Paris Agreement. He introduced a similar resolution in December 2015, shortly after the agreement was announced. In April, he sent a letter to Trump arguing that the United States should withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement. That letter was signed by 12 members of the House.
U.S. Representative Alex Mooney of the state's Second District, praised the move as well.
“I am proud to see our country declare independence from this international job-killing agreement that disproportionately harms Americans and especially West Virginians," Mooney, a Republican, said. "President Trump is fulfilling his promise to grow the economy by putting American jobs and energy needs first. I appreciate that President Trump mentioned the rebounding coal industry and specifically West Virginia in his speech."
“We are seeing an end to an era where foreign anti-job, anti-energy policies, pushed by former President Barack Obama, crush West Virginian jobs. I am proud to have stood with President Trump as he fulfilled his promise to put American jobs first.”
Mooney said the emissions standards and regulatory requirements under the Paris Accord would cost the U.S. economy nearly $3 trillion over the next several decades while also destroying 6.5 million industrial sector jobs.