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Democrats Introduce Legislation to Keep U.S. in Paris Climate Change Agreement

PENNY STARR

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and other House Democrats introduced on Wednesday the Climate Action Now Act, or H.R. 9, which would prevent President Donald Trump from withdrawing the United States from the Paris climate agreement and would require the United States to comply with the terms of the agreement, including paying money to the United Nations.

The move comes a day after the United States Senate shot down the Green New Deal resolution with a 0–57 vote — all Republicans, three Democrats, and one Independent cast “no” votes. Not one Democrat voted for it. Instead, 43 voted “present.”

The Green New Deal resolution, if adopted as legislation, would transform the American economy and infrastructure, including ending air travel in a decade, replacing all gas-fueled vehicles with electric vehicles, and retrofitting every building in the country. It also promises “social justice,” like job and health care guarantees.

Pelosi said at the press conference, however, that this bill conforms with “the will of the people.”

“The American people know that the climate crisis is an existential threat of our generation, of our time — a crisis manifested in natural disasters of epic proportions,” Pelosi said at the press conference to introduce the bill. “Today the Democratic majority is honoring the will of the people and taking first strong steps to protect our planet and our future.”

Pelosi said — despite evidence to the contrary — that the bill would create “good paying green energy jobs,” provide clean water and air “for our children,” and help keep the country safe.

“The national security experts have spoken: This is a national security issue,” Pelosi said, adding that fighting climate change is also a “moral issue.”

Rep. Kathy Castor (D-FL), the main sponsor of the bill, reiterated Pelosi’s claims and added social justice to the bill’s credit.

“We can finally address decades of environmental injustice right now,” Castor said.

Trump announced in June 2017 that the United States would withdraw from the Paris Agreement because of the harm it would cause to the economy. 

Trump said when announcing the decision that the U.S. would immediately “cease all implementation of the non-binding Paris Accord and the draconian financial and economic burdens the agreement imposes on our country.”

Complying with the agreement could have cost the U.S. “as much as 2.7 million lost jobs by 2025 according to the National Economic Research Associates,” Trump said. “This includes 440,000 fewer manufacturing jobs.”

“The United States, under the Trump administration, will continue to be the cleanest and most environmentally friendly country on Earth,” Trump said. “We’re going to have the cleanest air. We’re going to have the cleanest water. We will be environmentally friendly, but we’re not going to put our businesses out of work, and we’re not going to lose our jobs.”

But if the Democrats have their way, and the Senate approves the Climate Action Now Act, and the president signs it into law, the United States would have to comply with the conditions of the Paris Agreement, at least until November 2020 — the date set for an official withdrawal.

Until then, the U.S. would be required to report emissions to the United Nations and “meet its nationally determined contribution under the Paris Agreement.”

“In this Act, the term Paris Agreement means the decision by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change’s 21st Conference of Parties in Paris, France, adopted December 12, 2015,” the text of the bill states.

Former President Barack Obama signed the U.S. onto the Paris Agreement without approval from Congress, which allowed Trump to reverse the decision.

The Hill reported on Pelosi’s efforts to balance the climate change debate in her party:

Pelosi has long declined to say whether she intends to bring a vote on the House’s version of the Green New Deal resolution, championed by freshman Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY).

Following a call by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) in early March to hold a hearing on the resolution, Pelosi promised there would be debate on some climate bill, but didn’t say which one.

Ocasio-Cortez herself has not made calls for her resolution to be marked up or brought to the floor. Instead her office is working on new piecemeal bills that would address specific policies laid out in the broader plan. Those bills aren’t expected until early next year, her staff told the Hill.

Castor said at the press conference that her legislation would force Trump to comply with the Paris Agreement.

“So despite what the president said, America will not retreat,” Castor said. “America will not cut and run.” 

“America will keep its commitments,” Castor said. “We can do this and together we will.”

Follow Penny Starr on Twitter.

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