Government & Politics

KC area Republicans applaud Trump’s decision to exit climate deal — with one exception

Trump withdraws from Paris climate deal

President Trump made good on a top campaign promise to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement Thursday.
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President Trump made good on a top campaign promise to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement Thursday.

U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran was the only the Republican from the Kansas City region to oppose President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw the U.S. from a global agreement on climate change Thursday.

Other GOP lawmakers from Kansas and Missouri applauded the president’s move, which will make the United States one of only three nations not committed to the 2015 Paris climate accord, an agreement between 190 countries to curb climate change through reduced carbon emissions worldwide. The only other countries with that distinction are Syria and Nicaragua.

Moran, a Kansas Republican, said in a statement that he “opposed the Obama administration’s decision to enter into the Paris climate accord without appropriate congressional input. But given the change in administrations, I would have preferred staying at the table.”

“The U.S must now engage in this debate to avoid decisions made without us that lack common sense, are not based on sound science and are damaging to jobs in the United States. We can put America first by leading,” Moran continued.

Moran’s fellow Republican and Kansas senator, U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts, on the other hand, signed a letter last week urging the country’s withdrawal from the agreement. U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt, a Missouri Republican, was also among the letter’s 21 signatories.

The region’s Democrats blasted Trump’s decision.

U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, a Kansas City Democrat, compared the president in a statement to a conspiracy theorist who still believes the Earth is flat, calling the decision “short-sighted and a dangerous nod to the National Flat Earth Agency and others who refuse to accept the science that has been embraced by every nation on the planet except war-torn Syria and dictator-driven Nicaragua.”

Cleaver contended that pulling out of the agreement will put the United States at an economic disadvantage by slowing innovation in the clean energy sector.

Kansas has seen major growth in the wind energy industry in recent years and ranks second among all states in wind power potential, according to the American Wind Energy Association. However, multiple lawmakers from the state argued that the Paris agreement, which was negotiated by former President Barack Obama’s administration, would have had a negative impact on jobs in the region and that Trump was wise to withdraw.

“Like most Americans I’m aware of the scientific community’s alarms related to climate change and believe those concerns merit debate and consideration of proposals that can have a positive impact on the environment,” said U.S. Rep. Kevin Yoder, an Overland Park Republican, in an email. “Unfortunately, like most of the Obama administration’s big government solutions, the economic impact of the Paris accords would far outweigh the environmental benefits.”

Yoder contended that the agreement would have sacrificed thousands of American jobs and led to an increase in electric bills. He said that a “better path forward is continuing to encourage free market innovation that has given us fuel efficient cars, hybrid cars and other modern technology that benefit our environment without the disastrous economic impact of the heavy hand of government.”

Blunt and Roberts both applauded the president’s decision with statements that hewed closely to a list of talking points sent out by the White House earlier in the day, which touted the United States’ strides in clean energy prior to the agreement and lambasted the agreement for not doing more to enforce tough standards against China.

“Entering into the Paris agreement knowing the negative impact it would have on jobs and families was a mistake. …The U.S. has made, and will continue to make, great strides toward a cleaner environment without handcuffing ourselves to standards that other member countries are not required to follow,” Blunt said in a statement.

Blunt’s campaign and political action committee received a combined $420,114 from the oil and gas industry during his 2016 re-election campaign, according to data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics.

The automotive industry also accounted for $425,378 in pro-Blunt donations during the year Blunt fought off a tough re-election challenge from Democrat Jason Kander.

Roberts said that the United States “continues to make great strides in reducing carbon emissions, but this agreement will result in higher energy prices for Kansas ratepayers and do more economic harm for Kansans than good for the climate.”

He said he was pleased with Trump’s promise to renegotiate the agreement.

Roberts’ campaign and political action committee received a combined $419,450 in contributions from the oil and gas industry in 2014, the year he last stood for re-election.

U.S. Rep. Sam Graves, whose district covers northern Missouri, did not respond to requests for comment.

Kansas City Mayor Sly James joined 60 other mayors from across the country in signing a letter blasting the president’s decision and promising to continue efforts to combat climate change on the local level.

“We will continue to lead…And if the president wants to break the promises made to our allies enshrined in the historic Paris agreement, we’ll build and strengthen relationships around the world to protect the planet from devastating climate risks,” the letter states. “The world cannot wait  —  and neither will we.”

U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, a Missouri Democrat who stands for re-election next year in a state Trump won by double digits, put out a carefully-worded statement that called for global action on climate change but did not mention Trump by name.

“If any action is going to be taken to protect Americans’ health from pollution, then the best way to make sure Missourians are treated fairly is to make sure that all nations are playing by the same rules and aren’t cheating the system,” she said. “Running and hiding from this problem isn’t going to solve it.”

Bryan Lowry: 816-234-4077, @BryanLowry3