‘President is choosing to put American jobs and consumers first’ Pence says
President Donald Trump’s decision to pull the United States out of a landmark global agreement to fight climate change drew praise and outrage on Thursday in Kentucky, a state where burning coal has long been the dominant source of electricity even as mining jobs have dramatically plunged.
And a utility that operates in Indiana said it would continue to work to reduce emissions blamed for causing global warming.
Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer said “the city of Louisville will remain strongly committed to creating a green, more sustainable and resilient community. Today’s announcement by the White House does not affect our city’s goals and aspirations.”
The president’s decision helps make good on a campaign promise, and he said as much in a White House announcement.
Louisville’s Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, applauded Trump and his administration “for dealing yet another significant blow to the (former President Barack) Obama administration’s assault on domestic energy production and jobs.” Trump, McConnell said, “has once again put families and jobs ahead of left-wing ideology and should be commended for his action.”
But Rep. John Yarmuth, D-Louisville, blasted the action by the billionaire real estate mogul turned – politician who has called climate change a hoax and who won Kentucky handily in last November’s election.
Trump’s decision “makes clear that the United States is not only abdicating its role as a world leader but is staking a claim as one of the great threats to global progress,” Yarmuth said. “Last year, the world’s nations came together out of urgent necessity and agreed with near unanimity to work together in combating the most pressing crisis of our time. The president’s decision to now reverse course betrays our allies, undermines our credibility and exacerbates a global catastrophe.”
The problem, climate scientists say with 95 percent certainty, is that humans have caused most of the warming that’s occurred in recent decades, with potentially disastrous consequences in the decades ahead.
Drew Foley, a Louisville environmental advocate, said environmentalists plan to join a “March for Truth” already scheduled for Saturday at 1 p.m. at Metro Hall. That rally originally focused on concerns about Trumps’s Russian connections.
“The local environmental community is demanding that the Trump administration recognize the scientific truth of the existential threat of climate change,” said Foley.
University of Louisville political science professor Melissa Merry said Trump “is under tremendous pressure to deliver a win to his core supporters. He campaigned on a promise to pull out of the Paris climate deal, and by doing so, he is showing that he can get something done.”
But she also said his action was not needed. “The agreement is voluntary for all parties, so there would be no legal consequences for simply doing nothing about climate change for the next four years,” she said.
Yet “this decision is a huge blow to the collective effort to limit the effects of climate change,” she cautioned.
That impact will depend on whether other nations maintain their commitments, and whether states and local governments and market forces continue to tilt toward cleaner energy, she added.
The announcement tosses a new measure of uncertainty into the nation’s energy policy, with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency under orders to reverse course on power plant pollution policies. LG& E and KU spokeswoman Natasha Collins said the electric utility was unclear how federal-level actions regarding the Paris agreement and Obama’s power plant regulations, might impact Kentucky or the company’s future plans “until all administrative reviews and judicial proceedings are complete.”
But she said the company will continue to evaluate potential technologies and support research projects “to propel the availability of carbon-capture technology, commercial-scale battery storage, renewables and more efficient coal-burning methods.”
Duke Energy, which operates in Indiana, plans to continue reducing its carbon footprint, said Dawn Santoinainni said. “We understand that climate change is a key issue for many of our stakeholders,” she said. “We’ve reduced carbon dioxide emissions by nearly 30 percent since 2005, and we’ve established an ambitious new goal to reduce (them) 40 percent by 2030.” A statement from John Mura, spokesman for the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet, did not address questions about whether Trump’s decision would bring coal jobs back. “Nothing about today’s announcement changes the day-to-day mission of the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet,” the statement said. “It will continue to enforce existing environmental laws to protect the health and safety of all who live and work in the Commonwealth.”
Former Indiana Governor and Vice President Mike Pence said “our president is choosing to put American jobs and consumers first.”
By James Bruggers