By A.J. Higgins, Susan Sharon & Mal Leary
Maine Public news story
The Trump administration’s decision Thursday to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement drew swift reaction from Maine environmental leaders — who denounced the action as a dangerous shift toward isolationism — and members of Maine’s congressional delegation, who were nearly unanimous in their reaction: most think the decision is a mistake.
The Paris accord, which seeks to reduce carbon emissions to taper climate change, was rejected by President Donald Trump as a bad deal for the U.S., but Pete Didisheim of the Natural Resources Council of Maine said Trump’s decision will actually threaten the health and well-being of all Americans.
“His administration is slashing all environmental funding, environmental programs, our climate initiatives and science and heading us down a path of various significant decline in the nation’s environmental condition, and that’s a threat to our public health and to our future economy,” he said.
Sean Mahoney, executive vice president of the Conservation Law Foundation said Trump’s decision effectively isolates the U.S.
“What can’t be mitigated is that there will be a loss of jobs because of this decision today and lost opportunity as Trump makes the U.S. a pariah in the world community. It will be very hard for countries to rely on the United States, having pulled out of the Paris accord and having previously pulled out of the Kyoto accord,” he said.
Independent U.S. Sen. Angus King, a member of the Senate Climate Action Task Force, said it’s a decision that will hurt Maine and the country.
“This is a tragic mistake, a really historic mistake. There is no downside for the United States here, there is only an upside for the United States and the world,” he said.
Trump said the Paris agreement was a bad deal for the United States and pledged to renegotiate a better deal. King said that may not be possible.
“I don’t know whether that is technically possible under the agreement. My understanding is that the leaders of the other countries, the principal counties involved, have rejected that as an option,” he said.
Republican U.S. Sen. Susan Collins said she was disappointed with Trump’s decision and that addressing climate change takes a worldwide effort. She said his decision is a mistake that has far reaching implications on the role of the U.S. and its dealings with other countries.
“It does lessen the ability of the United States to be a major leader and important player in reducing the impact of climate change,” she said.
Collins said she is also worried that U.S.’ ability to lead the world on other issues will be damaged by Trump’s decision. She said the president’s comments that the agreement was a bad deal that will cost jobs and hurt the U.S. economy make little sense.
“The irony is that the agreement set nonbinding emissions targets, so to say that this somehow would wreck our economy, it — the decision just does not make a lot of sense to me,” she said.
Democratic 1st District U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree released a statement Wednesday warning that walking away from the deal would be “perilous for America, Maine and our future.”
Republican 2nd District U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin echoed Trump’s language when he said he would urge the White House to continue engaging in world talks “with an eye toward sensible environmental policies that do not limit the nation’s competitiveness.”
King and Collins point out that the United States now joins Syria and Nicaragua as the only nations not supporting the agreement that seeks to reduce carbon emissions. Under the nonbinding agreement, the U.S. had agreed to cut pollution emissions by at least 26 percent of 2005 levels by 2025. Both senators say it will take a worldwide effort to address climate change and the president’s decision undercuts efforts to address the problem.