Officials React to Paris Climate Agreement Announcement

In the wake of President Trump’s announcement that the U.S. would eventually withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement, a number of elected officials offered their thoughts on the news. The following is a compilation of several statements from leaders in the Southeast region. All statements are listed alphabetically by author.

U.S. Representative Bradley Byrne (R-Alabama) 

“I wanted to share my thoughts on President Trump’s decision to exit the Paris Climate Agreement. I was not for the United States signing it in the first place because I considered it to be a sham on the basis of two facts. First, each nation got to pick its own goals or targets and as a result many nations targets are far below what they should be doing relative to others. This penalizes the United States as we have ambitious targets. China, for example, will be allowed to take far longer to meet its targets than we would have been. Second, there is no enforcement mechanism so there is no real 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 can cheat without any consequence.”

Twinkle Andress Cavanaugh (President, Alabama Public Service Commission)

“President Trump put the American people first when he pulled us out of the Paris Accord. Here in Alabama, we do not need our energy decisions being made by liberal climate alarmists in France. I applaud the President for putting our jobs and our families first. This nation sits on enough coal to provide us with energy for two and a half more centuries. We need to be able to use it if we choose.”

U.S. Senator Bob Corker (R-Tennessee) 

“I appreciated the opportunity to talk with President Trump and his team several times this week about his decision on the Paris climate agreement. The substantive requirements of the agreement are, in fact, non-binding. On the other hand, legitimate concerns have been raised about the likelihood of domestic interest groups using the agreement to file lawsuits in an effort to halt the repeal of regulations which, while being litigated, would stifle economic growth here at home. I appreciate the president’s desire to renegotiate an agreement that is more in line with what is achievable in a manner that promotes an increase in the standard of living of American citizens and protects our environment. I stand ready to work with him toward that end.”

U.S. Representative Carlos Curbelo (R-Florida)

“This is a strategic mistake and something that really sets us back. I don’t know about the people of Pittsburgh, who I have great respect for, but people in South Florida live between the Everglades and the ocean. Most of us live near sea level and near the sea. …We’re already seeing the effects of salt water intrusion into the Everglades, which threatens our drinking water supply. We’re also seeing coastal properties under threat, real estate, billions and billions of dollars. So, down here in South Florida, we understand that the environment and the economy are one in the same, and we understand that pollution and CO2 emissions don’t respect national – and even continental- boundaries. What happens in India, what happens in China, has an impact on all of us.”

U.S. Representative Ted Deutch (D-Florida)

”We are ceding our international leadership to China, and to the European Union on an issue that matters to us so dramatically.”

Tim Echols (Georgia Public Service Commission)

“As an elected regulator, I live every day in a world of energy and the environment, but economics are also an essential part of the equation for customers. My colleagues at the Public Service Commission and I seek to harmonize our energy supply with existing and anticipated environmental regulations, with a keen eye to the harsh reality of economics and how all of these affect doing business in our state. The likely negative economic impact to the U.S. is at the core of my concerns about the Paris Accord.”

U.S. Representative Chuck Fleischmann (R-Tennessee)

“If they wanted to do this it should have been done constitutionally through a treaty. It was not, so basically Congress was circumventing by the Obama administration signing up for that. So procedurally I had problems with the way it was set up from the inception. This was a bad deal for America and President Trump got us out of it. I realize some other countries are upset about it, but the reason they are upset about it is getting out of it is going to be good for America. It is going to be good for American energy.”

U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina)

“It would be taken as a statement that climate change is not a problem; is not real. So that would be bad for the party, bad for the country. I support President Trump’s desire to re-enter the Paris Accord after the agreement becomes a better deal for America and business.”

U.S. Representative Barry Loudermilk (R-Georgia)

“Regardless of how good something may be, government officials are bound by the Constitution, and policies that place restrictions on Americans cannot be unilaterally imposed by one branch of government. The Paris Agreement essentially functions as a treaty, and should have been brought to the Senate for open discussion and consideration. Instead, our former president unilaterally made the decision without lawmakers’ input or support.”

Jeremy Oden (Alabama Public Service Commission)

“In keeping his campaign promise to “Make American Great Again”, President Trump has taken an initial step in removing the USA from the Paris Accord. This financial commitment, done via Executive Order, was unfair and had little influence on the continued trend of cheaper and cleaner fuel sources. While appropriate regulations have beneficial outcomes, this agreement required very little of other countries and did even less to help our nation’s current and future economic viability. I am looking forward to what lies ahead for our country, especially in the field of energy.”

U.S. Senator Tim Scott (R-South Carolina) 

“I believe it is possible to set an agenda that aims to protect our environment without hindering our economic growth here at home, and the Paris Climate agreement will make achieving this balance near impossible. Studies show that over the coming years the Paris Agreement could cost 6.5 million jobs and $3 trillion — with the bill falling right on the laps of our American families and businesses.”

U.S. Senator Luther Strange (R-Alabama) 

“President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement puts the United States one step closer to relief from the burden of anti-growth, job-killing regulations in the Clean Power Plan. The Obama administration’s push to join the Agreement without the advice and consent of the Senate challenged the separation of powers and local economies across the country. After joining my Senate colleagues earlier this month to recommend the withdrawal, I am proud to see the President continue to take a hard stance against this wet blanket of over-regulation.”


PACE in The Hill: Fair, Pro-Growth Tax Policy Can Help Energy Consumers

The following op-ed from PACE Executive Director Lance Brown appeared in the June 2nd online edition of The Hill. Read the piece online here.

When it comes to energy policy, language matters. That’s why a recent letter from the House Sustainable Energy and Environment Coalition, written by Democrats lawmakers, deserves careful scrutiny.

In their letter to House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady and Ranking Member Richard Neal, the lawmakers call for the Committee to consider a number of measures as part of House leadership’s efforts toward much-needed comprehensive tax reform. These include levying an “economy-wide price on carbon” and putting “an end to special interest tax breaks provided to the oil and gas industry.”

Notwithstanding the economic consequences of establishing a price on carbon, which recent experience in Australia has shown to be a disastrous undertaking, the American energy vision espoused by the House Sustainable Energy and Environment Coalition leaves much to be desired. Chief among the problems with the group’s vision is its insistence, echoed by the environmental lobby, that the oil and gas industry is the recipient of special tax breaks not enjoyed by businesses in other, namely renewable, resource areas. This is, of course, patently untrue.

While voices such as Senator Al Franken and the fifty House members who compose the Coalition have attempted to label energy tax deductions by fossil fuel companies as subsidies, they simply aren’t. Take, for example, the Section 199 Manufacturers’ Deduction, a tax provision taken across a broad spectrum of industries. While such deductions are employed by industries of all types, some in Congress erroneously paint them as special tax breaks for energy companies. This is a mistake.

Widely-used tax deductions are not the same as direct subsidies of the type showered on the for-profit solar industry, for example, in past years. In fact, while renewable power sources have received heavy direct subsidies from U.S. taxpayers over the past decade, fossil fuel industries have received nearly none. Not only does the House Sustainable Energy and Environment Coalition overlook the distinction between tax deductions and outright cash subsidies such as the production tax credit and investment tax credit for renewables, its letter calls for more taxpayer spending for direct energy subsidies.

The fact is that U.S. tax policy is a crucial tool for unleashing our nation’s domestic energy potential. Smart tax policies, those that are even-handed and energy agnostic, have been critical to quantum leaps forward in American energy production that have moved us closer to true energy independence. By confusing tax deductions with subsidies and potentially treating energy companies differently than their counterparts in other sectors, we risk jeopardizing the progress that has made the U.S. number one in resources such as oil, gas, and coal. Access to standard tax deductions helps to drive energy exploration and production, both of which continue to be necessary for meeting future energy demand. We also risk raising energy prices for American businesses and families, an outcome we can’t afford in our current economy.

The current momentum toward permanent, comprehensive tax reform presents not only a strong opportunity to grow the overall economy, but to create a solid pro-growth foundation for the energy sector as well. By passing tax reform that works for industries and taxpayers and eschewing policies that play favorites by singling out sectors such as fossil fuels, we can pave the way for an American energy future that works to the benefit of consumers.

The keys to long-term sustainability and growth in any sector, including energy, are stable and permanent tax laws and policies that don’t pick winners and losers. As members of Congress continue to work toward comprehensive tax reform that leads the nation’s economy toward a brighter future, let’s hope they have the wisdom to parse fact from fiction regarding energy subsidies and choose a path toward growth and fairness.


EPA Stays Landfill Methane Rule

In late March of this year, just weeks after assuming office, President Donald Trump issued his Energy Independence Executive Order that orders agencies to “review existing regulations that potentially burden the development or use of domestically produced energy resources and appropriately suspend, revise, or rescind those that unduly burden the development of domestic energy resources beyond the degree necessary to protect the public interest or otherwise comply with the law.”

Environmental Protection Agency

On Tuesday, pursuant to that order, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a 90-day administrative stay for the August 2016 New Source Performance Standards and Emissions Guidelines for municipal solid waste landfills. The announcement comes on the heels of a May 5th letter to industry petitioner that the agency was granting the request for reconsideration of the rule.

Read the Letter Here

In August 2016, EPA issued updated guidelines for existing municipal solid waste landfills and standards for newly built, modified or reconstructed landfills. Municipal solid waste landfills receive non-hazardous waste from homes, businesses and institutions. The updated rules require landfills to install and operate landfill gas collection systems, monitor emissions, as well as other provisions. The administrative stay allows EPA to reconsider certain aspects of the new source standards and emission guidelines for existing landfills. EPA estimates that implementing these rules would cost businesses more than $100 million per year to install and operate gas collection and control systems.

“EPA is continuing to ensure that the public has the opportunity to comment on agency actions,” said Administrator Scott Pruitt. “Reconsidering portions of the landfill rules will give stakeholders the opportunity to review these requirements, assess economic impacts and provide feedback to the agency through the reconsideration process.”

As part of the reconsideration process, EPA expects to prepare a proposed rule, allowing for public comment. EPA also continues to look at rules that affect methane emissions from oil and gas wells. Just last week, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia granted the Trump administration’s request to give EPA more time to review new proposed rules on methane emissions by the oil and gas industry.