Louisiana officials react to Trump's withdrawal from climate agreement

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A March for Science in New Orleans on April 22 brought attention to climate change and other environmental and health issues. - PHOTO BY KAT STROMQUIST
  • PHOTO BY KAT STROMQUIST
  • A March for Science in New Orleans on April 22 brought attention to climate change and other environmental and health issues.

As Louisiana and coastal states prepare for the first day of the Atlantic hurricane season, President Donald Trump announced plans to withdraw the U.S. pledge to reduce emissions under the international Paris climate accord. Paricipating countries under the agreement — which President Barack Obama joined in 2015 along with dozens other countries — have committed to lowering emissions to shrink the global footprint on climate change.

It's another potential blow to the future of Louisiana's coast following Trump's proposed 2018 budget. Trump — who has said global warming "was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive" — glimpsed potentially devastating rollbacks to Louisiana coastal protections in his budget plans, revealed last month.
In a statement, Gov. John Bel Edwards said the "budget robs Louisiana of financial resources promised to us for coastal restoration" with the killing of the Gulf of Mexico Security Act that secures as much as $140 million a year from oil and gas production revenue sharing.

"Permanent sharing of federal revenues is critical to ensure Louisiana’s coast remains fully operational, protects vital national infrastructure and provides the necessary barriers to protect our working coast and citizens," Edwards said. "This proposal would set us back decades. The resources which must travel through the infrastructure networks in Louisiana require an ongoing federal funding commitment. Ignoring the significance of Louisiana’s coast, its assets and its impact to this country is short sighted."

New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu also slammed the budget proposal last month. "New Orleans and Louisiana are under constant threat of damage from sea level rise and storm surge from hurricanes," Landrieu said, adding that removing funding for coastal restoration "will put millions of lives at risk."
Landrieu joins 60 U.S. mayors representing more than 30 million people that plan to "uphold the commitments to the goals enshrined in the Paris Agreement." The coalition of mayors has agreed to rely on "low-carbon" economies to mitigate climate risk. Landrieu also has joined more than 400 city leaders from around the world as part of the Global Covenant of Mayors on Climate and Energy.

“Climate change is a threat that affects us all, and it is a real and present danger to our coastal communities," Landrieu said in a statement following Trump's address on the Paris agreement. "Here in Louisiana, we face a triple threat: subsidence, coastal erosion and sea level rise. If unchecked, New Orleans, like many coastal cities, will cease to exist. The Paris Agreement remains the world’s greatest weapon to combat this existential threat. Although the Trump administration questions the facts of climate change, we must not waver.

“Time is of the essence in combatting this critical existential threat, and our coastal city is on the front line. We must take action to slow climate change in coordination with cities around our nation and the world.”

Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry, meanwhile, praised Trump's decision. "The #ParisAccord is environmental welfare at an international level," Landry said on Twitter. "Thank you @POTUS for getting us out of this America Last Agreement!"

U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise, the House Majority leader, also applauded Trump's decision.

"While the previous administration expressed open hostility to American manufacturing, it's refreshing that President Trump is focused on putting America first by negotiating sound deals that protect and create American jobs — including the energy jobs that are so critical to our economy in Louisiana," he said in a statement.

Economists are skeptical, however, that reneging on the agreement will help create more jobs.


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