Trump's Exit from Climate Deal Defies Public Opinion

But Move is a Boon to GOP Donors in the Energy Industry

Written by Samuel Genova and Scott Zimmerman on June 3, 2017

President Trump’s decision to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris climate agreement sticks a finger in the eye of some of the nation’s most powerful business interests, to say nothing of a substantial majority of the American public. 

But the decision is a potential boon to the U.S. fossil fuel industry, a major source of campaign cash for Trump and his Republican allies in Congress and a major employer in usually-Democratic leaning rust belt states like Pennsylvania and Michigan that were key to Trump’s upset victory in the 2016 election. 

Energy interests contributed nearly $2 million to Trump’s campaign and a whopping $89.4 million to Republican congressional candidates. While polls suggest a plurality of Republican voters and a majority of Americans overall - seven-in-10 according to one poll - disagree with Trump’s decision to quit the climate deal, the president’s move enjoys strong support from GOP members of Congress. Of the 22 senators who supported Trump’s move to pull out of the climate accords, 13 count oil and gas interests among their top five sources of campaign cash. 

House Speaker Paul Ryan, who represents the rust belt state of Wisconsin, said “the Paris climate agreement was simply a raw deal for America . . . I commend President Trump for fulfilling his commitment to the American people and withdrawing from this bad deal.” 

Trump argued Thursday that the climate deal "is less about the climate and more about other countries gaining a financial advantage over the United States.” In fact, the financial commitments are low; then-President Obama pledged only $3 billion in the accords, $1 billion of which has already been spent. The payments have no timetable, and the current annual budget of the EPA is over $8 billion. 

The climate accord calls on participating countries to reduce domestic production of pollutants, a stipulation the  Trump administration sees as a financial disincentive. However, an Environmental Entrepreneurs study found that clean energy standards, many of which were set by the Paris accords, have already have created 2.5 million jobs. In addition, the International Energy Agency forecasts a $60 trillion global clean energy market in the coming years. 

President Trump and his administration have shown a shocking disregard for the opinions and the common good of the American people by removing the country from the accords. His decision appeals to Trump’s political base and that of key Republican leaders, but is not in the best interest of the majority of Americans. He is the President of the whole country, not just those individuals who provide key votes in swing states; as such this decision  raises even more questions about the ethics and motivations of Trump and his administration.


Office: Common Cause National

Issues: Money in Politics

Tags: Fighting Big Money

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