Dear Mr. Gavaler:
Thank you for contacting me about the issue of climate change and the recent decision by President Trump to formally withdraw the United States from the Paris Climate Agreement. I share your desire for a healthy planet and appreciate you sharing your concerns.
As you may know, on December 12, 2015, the participating nations of the twenty-first session of the Conference of Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change announced a new international agreement. The Paris Agreement included a single “transparency framework” and timeline that applies to all parties with the intent to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and limit the average global temperature increase. Under this agreement, the Obama Administration pledged to reduce U.S. emissions by 26-28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025, and pledged $3 billion to the United Nations’ Green Climate Fund. On April 22, 2016, Secretary of State John Kerry signed the Paris Agreement, and on September 3, 2016, President Obama submitted an instrument of acceptance to the United Nations.
On June 1, 2017, President Trump announced that he was formally withdrawing the United States from this voluntary agreement. The President also announced that he would attempt to renegotiate a better agreement in order to address the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement, while limiting negative economic impacts on the American economy and our nation’s workers.
This decision to exit the Paris Climate Agreement was the right move. I have had concerns from the beginning that this agreement was never ratified by the Senate, failing to get the scrutiny of the People’s elected representatives and flouting our constitutionally enumerated treaty approval process. Quite simply, President Obama should have submitted this agreement to the United States Senate for approval, and his decision to avoid this check and balance contained in our constitutional system was irresponsible. Additionally, the agreement puts significant burdens on the United States while we have already taken substantial steps in reducing CO2 emissions in our country. We all want a healthy environment to pass down to the next generation, and we should continue to work toward this goal on the international front in a way that preserves both the American economy and the environment.
As we consider how to best fulfill our role as responsible stewards of our environment, I believe it is important to continuously evaluate our energy policies. However, we cannot ignore that America’s economy is intrinsically linked to the availability and affordability of energy. Folks in Virginia’s Sixth District and others in our nation and around the world will not be able to continue to move forward economically to better their lives without the assurance of affordable and efficient energy.
I believe our nation can develop environmentally sound, cost-effective practices that will not stifle innovation or hamper economic growth. In many cases, those involved in innovative technologies or those in state and local governments know best how to address issues such as a need for new energy sources, or environmental and climate adaptability concerns. Rest assured I will keep your views in mind as Congress continues to debate how to best protect our environment and promote economic growth.
I appreciate you taking the time to share your views with me and hope you will stay in touch as the 115th Congress continues to debate issues important to our country. I believe it is vital to keep an open line of communication so I can best serve the interests of Virginia’s 6th District. Please feel free to contact me whenever I may be of assistance to you and your family.
Member of Congress