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WV leaders praise withdrawal from climate deal

Clockwise from top left, West Virginia Sens. Joe Manchin and Shelley Moore Capito, and Reps. David McKinley and Evan Jenkins. All but Manchin are Republicans. Not shown is Rep. Alex Mooney, R-W.Va.

President Donald Trump’s announcement Thursday to pull the United States out of the Paris Climate Accord, an international effort agreed upon in 2015 to curb greenhouse gas emissions, earned him pats on the back from West Virginia’s congressional delegation.

The agreement, signed onto by 195 countries, worked as a mutual pact to stymie the flow of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the environment contributing to global warming.

Despite scientific evidence of climate change and risk of future damage to the planet, all five members of West Virginia’s congressional delegation issued supporting statements through their media teams within an hour of the news.

Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., said “onerous” environmental regulations have harmed the state’s labor force, and the withdrawal will help with a potential rebound.

“President Trump’s decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris Climate Agreement is the right decision for the American economy and workers in West Virginia and across the country,” she said. “West Virginians have suffered tremendous economic calamity as a result of the Obama administration’s anti-coal agenda, and President Obama should not have unilaterally committed the United States to an international climate agreement without consent of the Senate.”

The remark comes when even members of Trump’s own Cabinet have said easing regulations on environmental protection won’t help coal rebound because natural gas remains a cheaper option.

In similar fashion to Capito, Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., praised Trump’s decision, breaking ranks with his party.

“While I believe that the United States and the world should continue to pursue a cleaner energy future, I do not believe that the Paris agreement ensures a balance between our environment and our economy,” he said. “To find that balance, we should seek agreements that prioritize the protection of the American consumer, as well as energy-producing states like West Virginia, while also incentivizing the development of advanced fossil energy technologies.”

All three of West Virginia’s House representatives applauded the move, as well.

In the 1st District, Rep. David McKinley, R-W.Va., sided with the president.

“The Paris Climate Agreement is a flawed deal that puts America’s energy needs and economic growth on the back burner, while transferring money and power to unelected international bureaucrats,” he said. “I urge President Trump to seize this opportunity and champion technology to provide affordable, efficient and reliable energy.”

McKinley introduced House resolutions in 2015 and 2017 calling for the United States to withdraw, and penned a letter in April calling for the withdrawal that 12 House members signed onto, including the rest of the West Virginia delegation.

In the 2nd District, Rep. Alex Mooney, R-W.Va., who attended the White House announcement Thursday, criticized the agreement, echoing Capito in attacking the Obama administration and seeming to argue that the move will help the state’s coal industry.

In the 3rd District, Rep. Evan Jenkins, R-W.Va., shared similar thoughts.

“The Paris accord puts the United States on an uneven playing field, forcing us to make costly reductions, all while countries like China and India make their own rules,” he said before adding to the criticism of the Obama administration.

During his announcement Thursday, Trump said he would negotiate a better deal for the United States. However, member countries of the accord said such negotiations are not possible.

While the United States may exit the agreement, it could take four years to complete a full withdrawal from it.

Reach Jake Zuckerman at jake.zuckerman@wvgazettemail.com, 304-348-4814 or follow @jake_zuckerman on Twitter.

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