LITTLE ROCK — Arkansas’ Republican governor and most of the members of its all-GOP congressional delegation said Thursday they welcomed President Donald Trump’s announcement that the U.S. will withdraw from the Paris climate accord.
Environmental and conservation groups in the state said the decision would have dire consequences and called it an abdication of leadership responsibility.
The decision fulfills Trump’s campaign promise to withdraw from the agreement that former President Barack Obama joined in 2015. The U.S. was one of 195 nations to enter into the agreement to reduce carbon emissions that contribute to climate change.
Trump has said the accord put a disproportionate burden on the U.S. and would cost American jobs — a claim that environmentalists dispute.
J.R. Davis, spokesman for Gov. Asa Hutchinson, said the decision “was consistent with what President Trump said on the campaign trial, that he’s not going to sign treaties and agreements that put America at a disadvantage, and that’s what we saw today. The Paris accord put the United States in a difficult position, and you had other countries that basically got off scot-free, and that’s an issue.”
Sen. John Boozman said in a statement, “Entering into the Paris climate accord was not in America’s best interest, and the previous administration should have never taken that action without seeking the Senate’s advice and consent. I commend President Trump for taking the appropriate steps to make a clean exit from it so we can continue to pursue an ‘all-of-the-above’ approach to meeting our energy needs free of the significant litigation risk created by the agreement.”
Sen. Tom Cotton said in an email, “I’m more worried about what people pay for electricity in Paris, Arkansas, than I am the Paris climate accord, which would make them pay a lot more. The United States will continue to lead the world in environmental protection and economic might without this lopsided deal.”
Rep. Bruce Westerman of Hot Springs said in a statement, “I applaud the administration’s decision to lead like America has historically led … by example. The United States can be more effective illustrating to the rest of the world what sound environmental stewardship looks like by innovating and continuing to be the best when we lead and set the standard versus signing agreements with foreign governments and allowing others to direct how we operate.”
Rep. Steve Womack of Rogers said in an email, “I’m not sold on the philosophy that man is the sole contributor of climate change — but we have to be careful that the United States doesn’t take a disproportionate amount of responsibility and monetary commitment for this issue.”
Rep. Rick Crawford of Jonesboro said in an email, “The needs of American families should always come before questionable promises to foreign countries. This administration is placing priority on America’s energy needs, independence, and jobs.”
A spokesman for Rep. French Hill of Little Rock said Hill was reviewing the president’s decision.
Glen Hooks, director of the Arkansas chapter of the Sierra Club, said that “the leader of the free world has utterly abdicated his responsibility to care for that world.”
“By abandoning our country’s solemn commitment to nearly 200 nations, President Trump has severely weakened our international credibility while also greatly threatening our environment, health, and economy. Trump has unilaterally surrendered the standard of American leadership on climate to stand with Syria and Nicaragua as the only nations that aren’t part of the Paris climate accord,” Hooks said in a statement.
Brett Kincaid, executive director of Audubon Arkansas, said in a statement, “Climate change is the No. 1 threat to birds. We now face a much more difficult challenge protecting the birds we know and love.”