President Donald Trump announced Thursday that he would begin the four-year process of taking the United States out of the Paris climate agreement. In doing so, he cited a much disputed report that predicted the agreement would cost American jobs, and he set the U.S. at odds with nearly every other country in the world.
Colorado’s elected Democrats, many of whom had pleaded with the president not to take this step, had a lot to say. They slammed the president and pledged that Colorado and Denver would keep taking steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Republican Rep. Ken Buck praised the move as a “win” for Colorado, while Republican Rep. Mike Coffman said the Senate should make this decision.
Gov. John Hickenlooper
Basically: Hickenlooper had sought to implement President Barack Obama’s Clean Power Plan at the state level even when the courts put it on hold, though Republicans in the legislature wouldn’t fund the effort. The governor was one of 12 who signed a letter asking Trump to stay in the Paris accord, and he has repeatedly described clean power as good for the state’s economy, not just the environment.
From the statement: “It is a serious mistake to back out of the Paris Accord. This is a historic global agreement between almost every nation on earth to address the single most pressing issue facing humanity. Abandoning this climate deal is like ripping off your parachute when you should be pulling the ripcord.
“… The U.S. is letting go the reins of world leadership, allowing other countries like Russia, India, and China to take our seat at the international table. Our economic and technological competitiveness will suffer. Isolationism is not leadership.
“Colorado’s commitment to clean air and clean energy will continue. Clean energy is abundant, home-grown, and creates 21st century jobs for our modern workforce across every part of our state. We renew our commitment to pursue cleaner energy at a lower cost. To do otherwise would be governmental malpractice.”
Denver Mayor Michael Hancock
Basically: Like many large cities with Democratic mayors, Denver has been taking its own steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Hancock sees withdrawal as a mistake that means cities will have to go it alone.
From the statement: “Disengagement and failure to act not only demonstrates a lack of leadership on climate change, but it forfeits substantial opportunities to boost GDP, create thousands of good paying clean energy jobs and improve health.
“Climate change is a serious threat to our economy and way of life in Colorado, as we see increasing wild fires, flooding, drought and decreasing snow cover. Poor air quality and extreme heat impacts public health, especially our most vulnerable populations.
“Denver has been a leader in combating climate change and in growing the clean energy economy. We will not back down from our commitment to address this global threat and will continue the pledge to meet the targets of the Paris Agreement even in the absence of federal leadership.”
Sen. Michael Bennet
Basically: Bennet has been a strong critic of the president’s environmental policies and had previously urged Trump to keep the U.S. in the agreement. On Thursday, he called the decision “a catastrophic mistake.”
From the statement: “The President made a catastrophic mistake by putting a misguided campaign promise before the needs of our economy and the credibility of American diplomacy. Before this decision, the United States was on track to achieve energy independence, reduce its carbon footprint and create good-paying jobs in rural communities — with Colorado leading the way. Withdrawing from the Paris Agreement attempts to undercut the progress we have made.
“In Colorado, we will continue working to meet the carbon emissions targets set in the Clean Power Plan. The administration should reverse this shortsighted decision and work to protect our planet, economy, and national security.”
Sen. Cory Gardner
Basically: Gardner has generally opposed efforts to regulate greenhouse gas emissions but supported wind production tax credits and funding for renewable energy research in Colorado. He said Congress should make decisions about international agreements. Republicans control the Senate and the House and are highly unlikely to agree to a major climate commitment.
From the statement: “The last Administration never submitted the Paris Climate Agreement to Congress and acted unilaterally. When Congress is bypassed, a president’s orders can be reversed by a future presidential action. The American people deserve to have a say in our energy future, and Congress is the appropriate place to debate these important issues. I will continue to work with my colleagues to grow the economy, create jobs and protect the environment for future generations of Coloradans.”
Rep. Diana DeGette (Denver)
Basically: DeGette tied the decision to the overall foreign policy approach of the Trump administration and said it undermines America’s position abroad, as well as our economic progress.
From the statement: “Pulling out of the Paris Agreement won’t happen overnight, but this announcement’s impact will be immediate: It signals that the United States cannot be counted on to stick to its promises and is prepared to cede leadership in yet another area that is crucial to our future. After ridiculing international trade agreements, failing to stand up firmly for NATO’s Article 5 commitments and treating our traditional alliances with scorn, the president evidently is willing to renege on an accord to which all countries but Syria and Nicaragua have agreed. Why is he looking to alienate the United States? ‘America First’ is turning into ‘America Alone.’
“This step defies scientific consensus about the effects of climate change. It will imperil future generations. And it will empower other countries that honor the Paris Agreement, leading them to create opportunities for innovation and a surging clean energy sector while our country is left in the dust.”
Rep. Jared Polis (Boulder)
Basically: Polis introduced a resolution earlier this year asking the president to keep the U.S. in the Paris agreements. He thinks withdrawing is a bad move.
From the statement: “The President’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement, the largest multi-national climate agreement in history, flies in the face of both economics and science. … Companies, states and local governments throughout the United States have already begun to fill the void left by this administration’s actions, leading the way on clean energy initiatives and reducing our carbon footprint. Unlike this administration, I will continue to help find ways for Colorado and the United States to strongly address climate change and further clean energy technologies and jobs.”
Scott Tipton (Western Colorado)
Basically: Tipton has opposed the Paris agreement as a distraction from more pressing issues like terrorism.
What he said in 2015: “Once again, (President Obama) is attempting to give away the barn by forcing Americans to shoulder the cost for a climate deal that does nothing tangible to limit the world’s biggest polluters like China, India and Mexico. The American people would be far better served by an administration that is focused on addressing the national security threats posed by ISIS instead of finding new ways to further punish responsible American energy producers and drive up energy costs on American families.” (Durango Herald)
Ken Buck (Greeley and eastern plains)
Basically: Buck opposed the agreement and called the withdrawal a “win” for Colorado and the country.
From the statement: “The President’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Accord is a win for Colorado. The deal disproportionately hurts the U.S. and lets the world’s worst polluters off the hook.”
Doug Lamborn (Colorado Springs)
Basically: Lamborn has opposed U.S. participation in international climate work, including signing a letter with other Republican lawmakers against contributing to the United Nations’ Green Climate Fund.
From the statement: No statement yet.
Mike Coffman (Aurora)
Basically: Coffman criticized Obama for not asking the U.S. Senate to ratify the agreement, and he managed to criticize Trump Thursday on the same grounds. This shouldn’t be an executive decision alone. Of course, in a Republican controlled Senate, such a deal wouldn’t stand much hope.
From the statement: “President Obama should have submitted the Paris climate agreement to the Senate for ratification as a treaty. Now President Trump should do what his predecessor failed to do — follow Article II, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution and take it before the Senate for a debate and a vote. I hope that we can be a part of a renegotiated climate treaty, ratified by the United States Senate, to continue our nation’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”
Ed Perlmutter (Lakewood)
Basically: Perlmutter, who is running for governor of Colorado, called the decision “another disaster” from the Trump administration.
This story will be updated as more information becomes available.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.