Quick criticism for withdrawal from climate pact

Stefanik calls Trump's decision a mistake; green groups, governor, senators also react negatively

North Country Congresswoman Elise Stefanik criticized President Donald Trump Thursday for his declaration to pull the U.S. from the Paris climate agreement.

“United States innovation and business leadership have been key drivers to lowering our carbon emissions over the last 20 years,” Stefanik, R-Willsboro, said in a prepared statement, “and we should continue to have an influential seat at the table as the rest of the world addresses these issues.

“Withdrawing from the Paris Agreement is misguided,” she continued, “and harms the ongoing effort to fight climate change while also isolating us from our allies.”

Stefanik said she is committed to working in Congress and with county and state officials on solutions to fight climate change.

Trump framed his decision as “a reassertion of America’s sovereignty,” and the president went on to say he was “elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris.”

The president also said the U.S. might try to re-enter the deal under more favorable terms or work to establish “an entirely new transaction.

“If we can, great,” he said. “If we can’t, that’s fine.”

Stefanik said Congress should oversee and approve matters such as Trump’s decision. She added that President Barack Obama overstepped his authority as well when he entered into the Paris agreement without congressional approval.

“This decision by President Trump is also a mistake,” she said.

“As we know in the North Country,” Stefanik’s statement continued, “protecting our environment goes hand in hand with strengthening our economy. We understand climate change is a serious threat that must be addressed by our entire global community, and the United States should continue to lead.”

The second term congresswoman is a member of the Bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus and authored the Republican Climate Change Resolution. She is also a leader in the moderate Republican Tuesday Group.

Local environmental advocacy group the Adirondack Council said Trump’s decision acts in “the wrong direction for the Adirondack Park.” Executive Director William Janeway said the park’s biological diversity is now more at risk due to the president’s decision. He noted that the Adirondacks are located at a transition zone between the temperate, hardwood forests of the Appalachians and northern spruce-fir forests.

“Science tells us that unchecked climate change would shift that transition zone northward into Canada,” Janeway said, “wiping out suitable habitat here for moose, fishers, spruce grouse, and other boreal animals that depend upon cold, wet, swampy forests. It will also wipe out a suitable climate for boreal plant species, such as the insect-eating pitcher plant and sundew. It will make our streams and rivers too warm to support healthy brook trout.

“It will also harm Adirondack communities,” Janeway continued, “as it makes the climate too warm for ski areas, Olympic winter sports training facilities, snowmobiling and other staples of the Adirondack culture and economy.”

The Council cited scientists’ reports that by 2100, the Adirondack Park’s climate will resemble present-day Richmond, Virginia, without significant intervention to curb global warming.

Peter Bauer, head of Protect the Adirondacks, was more blunt.

“Words cannot explain how stupid it is that @realDonaldTrump has decided to withdraw US from Paris Climate Accord,” he wrote on Twitter.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo chastised Trump Thursday, saying on Twitter that “climate change is real and won’t be wished away by denial.”

In response to Trump’s decision, Cuomo signed an executive order affirming the state’s role in fighting climate change, committing the state to meeting the standards set forth in the Paris accord. Cuomo also announced that the state would join California and Washington to form the United States Climate Alliance, committing New York to reduce emissions by 26 to 28 percent from 2005 levels.

“Withdrawing from the Paris Accord is reckless,” Cuomo wrote on Twitter.

Democratic Sen. Charles Schumer of New York said withdrawing from the deal is a “devastating failure of historic proportions.

“Pulling out of the Paris agreement doesn’t put America first — it puts America last in recognizing science, in being a world leader and protecting our own shoreline, our economy and our planet,” Schumer wrote in a statement.

Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand reiterated her statement from Wednesday, saying that the decision was “irresponsibly shortsighted and harmful to the United States.”