by Steve Collins, Staff Writer
Sun Journal news story
Calling it “a devastating blow,” the head of the Natural Resources Council of Maine denounced President Donald Trump’s decision to pull out of an international climate agreement Thursday.
Lisa Pohlmann, the environmental group’s executive director, said the move “could jeopardize global efforts to avert the most catastrophic impacts of climate change.”
Maine’s congressional delegation had a range of responses to the move, from strongly critical to sympathetic if not exactly supportive.
“Withdrawing from the Paris Climate Agreement is a mistake of historic proportions, putting our country and, indeed, our entire planet at risk,” U.S. Sen. Angus King, a first-term independent from Maine, said.
King said in a written statement that climate change “is the most serious and pressing global challenge of our time, and it will only be blunted by a coalition of nations working in partnership. This is a short-sighted and irresponsible decision, which future generations will neither forgive nor forget.”
“Climate change requires a global approach,” tweeted U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, a Republican who has represented Maine since 1997. She said she’s disappointed in the president’s decision.
U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin, the Republican who represents the 2nd Congressional District of Maine, said that now that Trump has made his decision, it remains “important for our nation to play a leadership role and be at the table for discussions that shape and influence world policies” on the issue to see “how we might work together” with other nations “on ensuring a sustainable environment for all people.”
U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree, a 1st District Democrat, said that “walking away from the Paris agreement is perilous for America, Maine and our future.”
In a written statement, Pingree said that retreating from the deal “will not only undermine America’s pledge to stand united in the fight against climate change,” but will also mean the nation is turning its back “on future generations will suffer the consequences of unchecked greenhouse gas emissions.”
“In Maine, we already see the harmful effects of climate change — rapidly rising temperatures are causing higher rates of tick-borne illness, warming oceans are threatening our economy by causing fish and lobster to migrate, and rising sea levels are jeopardizing coastal communities,” said the state’s only Democratic lawmaker on Capitol Hill.
Pingree pointed out that “more than 1,000 businesses, including multinational fossil fuel companies and nearly 200 nations, agreed to work together (under the Paris agreement) in order to address the greatest man-made crisis of our time.”
In a prepared statement, Pohlman stated, “Pulling out of this agreement puts the U.S. on the wrong side of history and against the rest of the world. It is a colossal mistake that stains our nation’s leadership, reputation and status among global powers.”
She said the president’s decision is “terrible news for our environment, and it hurts American workers and businesses as we lose economic opportunities to other nations in the global clean energy economy.”
“Here in Maine it would also create big problems for Maine people, businesses, and our environment,” she said, blasting the president for siding “with a narrow, extremist slice of the fossil fuel industry that rejects climate science.”
Pohlmann called it a “shameful act of isolationism” that puts the United States on the same side as Syria and Nicaragua, the only other countries that are not part of the 2015 Paris Accord that President Barack Obama helped to negotiate. Nicaragua’s objection is that the agreement is too weak.
Pohlmann hailed Collins, King and Pingree for their support of the climate change accord.
“Now it is time to redouble efforts and ensure America does its part to help prevent the worst of severe climate change,” Pohlmann said. “If we fail to act decisively, what will we tell the children?”
Poliquin said in prepared comments there are clearly “strong feelings about this issue,” and pointed out that “some large multinational corporations wished for the United States to remain in this agreement so the country could continue to have input on its implementation throughout the world.”
He called their position understandable, but cautioned that “as a nation we must also factor in the restrictions on our economy through the Paris Climate Agreement that many American workers, job creators and businesses of all sizes would face in competing with others, including emerging markets. It is critical we have a balance and our nation should continue to strive for a balance on these issues.”
“We should have sensible environmental policies that offer practical solutions to protect our planet and that enhance our economic growth and our nation’s competitiveness,” he said. “These priorities are not mutually exclusive and America should continue to be at the table to shape these discussions,” the congressman said.
He urged the White House “to take a new look at this issue with America’s best interests in mind and in the spirit of working with our world partners on protecting the environment.”
Poliquin also criticized Obama for failing “to seek out and receive full U.S. Senate approval” of the deal “with the full force of a treaty” that would likely have held up over the long haul.
“The former president’s choice to bypass the Senate, and therefore to avoid engaging in a collaborative process, directly led to today’s action,” he said.