Energy issues often create rare bipartisan alliances on Capitol Hill, but reaction to President Trump’s decision Thursday to withdraw f…
Here’s our look at the Trump administration and the rest of Washington
Energy issues often create rare bipartisan alliances on Capitol Hill, but reaction to President Trump’s decision Thursday to withdraw from the Paris climate change accord broke swiftly along partisan lines and ensured campaign battles to come.
Republicans are gambling that sticking with Trump will appeal to voters who hope for a resurgence of coal and oil industry jobs, as well as the GOP’s traditional deep-pocketed allies, including the billionaire Koch brothers’ network, who have railed against former President Obama’s signature environmental accomplishment.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky applauded Trump “for dealing yet another significant blow to the Obama Administration’s assault on domestic energy production and jobs.”
Coal-state lawmakers, including Rep. Alex Mooney (R-W. Va.) , were thrilled to attend the White House announcement at the Rose Garden.
“President Trump is right to withdraw from this bad deal, ” said Nathan Nascimento, a vice president at Freedom Partners, a Koch-backed pro-business group.
But Democrats lambasted the withdrawal as a retreat from the world stage that will have reverberations in economic and foreign policy beyond the immediate climate change debate.
Sen. Ben Cardin of Maryland, the top Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee, called the decision a “shocking reversal of American global leadership and transparently political, the clearest sign yet he will do whatever he can to dismantle President Obama’s legacy purely for the sake of it.”
Democrats often relied on Trump’s own bombastic vocabulary to criticize his move.
“’Sad, very sad,’ ” said. Rep. John Garamendi (D-Walnut Grove) , a former deputy secretary of the Interior.
Since the Obama administration negotiated the global accord, some have suggested it should have been handled as a treaty and submitted to the Senate for ratification.
Voting to stop the deal could have helped Republicans, who have the majority in Congress, score a political win at a time when they have racked up few major accomplishments, while also pressuring Democrats in red states where Trump remains popular.
But the White House decided against that approach, and the strategy might not have produced such clear results.
One red-state Democrat, Sen. Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, dismissed Trump’s decision as “reckless.” Wind energy is a rapidly growing industry alongside oil and gas development in her state.
“The United States can’ t remain an energy leader if we aren’ t even at the negotiating table, ” said Heitkamp. “No agreement is perfect. … 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.”
And several Republicans, including Rep. Carlos Curbelo, who represents a swing district in South Florida, and Sen. Susan Collins, the centrist from Maine, opposed Trump’s decision.
“Climate change requires a global approach, ” said Collins. “I’m disappointed.”
One certain outcome is that the decision will be debated into the next elections, especially as sought-after younger voters take more interest in the climate-change issue.
“We are appalled and disappointed, but we are not deterred, ” said Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii.) . “Entering a formal withdrawal would take nearly four years to complete which means climate change is on the ballot for every election until we reverse this immoral action.”