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Leaving Paris Accord benefits American workers

Bradley Byrne

By U.S. Representative Bradley Byrne (AL-1)

“I was elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris.” Those were the words of President Donald Trump during a recent ceremony in the White House Rose Garden to announce he was withdrawing the United States from the Paris Climate Accord.

The United States should have never entered into the agreement in the first place, and I applaud President Trump for getting us out of the rotten deal.

For those that do not know, the Paris Accord was formed within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in an effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions around the world. It was signed in April of last year after being negotiated by the Obama Administration and other world leaders.

For the United States, President Obama made the dubious claim that the Paris Agreement was not a treaty but instead an executive agreement. This allowed him to bypass Senate ratification where there was no chance this bad agreement would have been approved.
In the end, this worked out to our advantage. Since the agreement was never ratified by Congress, the next President, in this case Donald Trump, can simply decide to leave the agreement.

As soon as the agreement was finalized last year, I pointed out some major flaws that made this a sham deal.

First, each nation got to pick its own goals or targets. As a result, many nation’s targets are far below what they should be doing relative to others. This penalizes the United States because we set ambitious targets.

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China, for example, will be allowed to take far longer to meet its targets than we would have been. Additionally, India made their participation in the agreement contingent on receiving billions in foreign aid from other countries.

Second, there is no enforcement mechanism behind the agreement, which means there is no accountability. Nations acting in good faith, like the United States, would make the sacrifices and take the economic hit for doing so, while those not acting in good faith could cheat without any consequences.

Third, the agreement would have been devastating for the American economy. A study be NERA Consulting found that meeting the requirements outlined for the US in the deal would cost our economy nearly $3 trillion over the next several decades.

Just as bad, the deal would result in the loss of over 6 million industrial sector jobs, including 3.1 million manufacturing jobs. The coal industry would be hit especially hard, which would be bad news for the Port of Mobile and the McDuffie Coal Terminal.

The deal was also very costly for American taxpayers. President Obama committed $3 billion to the Green Climate Fund, which is nothing more than a slush fund. President Obama committed this funding without consulting with Congress.

The Paris Climate Accord reminded me of the Iran nuclear deal. President Obama and his team blew the negotiations, and the United States got a raw deal.

Now, I admit that our nation’s climate is changing. I also admit that there are some actions that could be taken to address our changing climate. But, this deal was a sham of a deal.

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An exorbitant amount of money went into the creation and implementation of this deal, which was nothing more than a way for some world leaders to pretend they were solving the issue when it was really nothing more than a publicity stunt.

We should continue to pursue energy policies that benefit the American worker, our environment, and the American people. We should continue pushing for an all-of-the-above energy strategy that ensures American energy independence.

Bradley Byrne is the president and CEO of the Mobile Chamber of Commerce and a former Republican congressman who represented Alabama's 1st Congressional District.

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