Paris Climate Agreement good or bad for our area? Local leaders disagree

The decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement makes the U.S. one of only three countries to do so

FILE - In this Oct. 4, 2016 file photo wind turbines spin near Leipzig, central Germany, Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2016. World leaders affirmed their commitment Thursday, June 1, 2017 to combating climate change ahead of U.S. President Donald Trump’s announcement on whether he would pull out of the Paris climate accord. Trump is expected to announce his decision on Thursday afternoon. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader,file)
FILE - In this Oct. 4, 2016 file photo wind turbines spin near Leipzig, central Germany, Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2016. World leaders affirmed their commitment Thursday, June 1, 2017 to combating climate change ahead of U.S. President Donald Trump’s announcement on whether he would pull out of the Paris climate accord. Trump is expected to announce his decision on Thursday afternoon. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader,file)

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Local lawmakers are weighing in on President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the two-year-old Paris Climate Agreement, part of a worldwide effort to combat global warming. Some say it puts our country first, but others say it will cause America to fall behind.

“This isn’t about party now. He is our president. He has to make the decisions that best fit our country,” said Mahoning County Commissioner Carol Rimedio-Righetti.

Representative Michelle Lepore-Hagan said “no thank you, Mr. President,” and that the Youngstown area is doing fine investing in the future.

“There is one steel mill in my district, the 58th District, and that’s Vallourec Steel. It’s owned by a French company, they are part of the Paris Accord and they’re run with clean energy.”

Watch: President Trump’s complete address about the Paris Climate Agreement

Valley Congressman Bill Johnson said American consumers will now see stable energy prices.

The Republican lawmaker said the treaty reached during Barack Obama’s presidency put America at a disadvantage by forcing the United States to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, while allowing other countries to increase their own use.

“The agreement puts countries like America, that uses fossil fuels, at a disadvantage.”

The decision to withdraw from the agreement makes the U.S. one of only three countries to do so.

Johnson claims the Paris agreement forces the U.S. to rely on more expensive, alternative energy sources, driving up prices for consumers.

“If we are not using coal-fired energy, if we are not using natural gas, you are talking about staggering increases in utility prices,” he said.

The Congressman released a full statement Thursday:

Under the Paris Climate Agreement, communities and industries in Eastern and Southeastern that depend on fossil fuels would have been disproportionately harmed. Meanwhile, under the same agreement, other countries like China and India are allowed to increase their coal consumption, while here at home we would have handcuffed ourselves for no economic benefit. This non-binding pact represented an ‘America second’ strategy, and I’m glad President Trump withdrew the United States from this agreement.”

While coal companies have been on the decline in recent years, Johnson insists the industry isn’t dead yet. He said advancements in technology will ensure that coal is utilized in an environmentally sound way.

Experts in the U.S. energy industry suggest current economic forces are already driving the market toward cleaner-burning, less expensive natural gas from areas like the Utica and Marcellus Shale deposits, which would then be used in electric-generating plants, like the new Lordstown Energy Center.

Republican Representative Mike Kelly also applauded President Trump’s actions:

Today’s announcement is great news for the American people. It is a victory for our economy, our sovereignty, and our Constitution. The Paris Agreement — which should have been considered a treaty from the very beginning — was written with Americans and their elected representatives as an afterthought. It would result in unfair domestic harm for American workers, taxpayers, consumers, manufacturers, and energy producers. We would shoulder most of the cost and gain no measurable reward. There’s a reason President Obama never submitted this accord to the Senate for proper approval: it would have been rejected as a very bad deal for America, and rightly so.

I have complete confidence in our country’s ability to protect both our economy and our environment at the same time, and I applaud President Trump’s strong commitment to this goal. Moving forward, both the executive and legislative branches must work together to ensure that every international commitment that we follow primarily serves the interests of American citizens above all else. As elected leaders, the laws and policies we craft must reflect the needs of our constituents, not the demands of a global ideological trend. As the president admirably stated, he was ‘elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris.’ I thank him for keeping this major promise and putting our country first.”

But Democratic Congressman Tim Ryan couldn’t disagree more. He called it a “disastrous decision” that would hurt places like Ohio:

In a stunning abandonment of American Leadership aboard, President Trump is poised to join the ranks of Syria and Nicaragua, making the United States only the third country on Earth not to participate in the historic Paris Climate Change Agreement. This is a disastrous decision. It hurts places like Ohio, where the transition to a cleaner, more sustainable energy economy could bring jobs back to our communities. It hurts our planet by once again continuing to ignore the perils of global climate change. And finally it hurts our national security. We know that climate change can amplify or worsen tensions that lead to conflict such as food and water shortages. Since 2010 the U.S. military has designated climate change as a crucial factor to consider in future national security planning. President Trump’s insistence on ignoring, muzzling, or twisting scientific research to pretend climate change is not an issue puts us all in immediate and long term danger. Future generations will not look kindly on this decision, nor should they. This is a sad day for our nation and for the world.”

Following the president’s speech, the mayor of Pittsburgh blasted him for the withdrawal, saying he and other mayors plan to abide by the Paris agreement. He also criticized Trump for saying the voters of Pittsburgh elected him, not Paris.

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