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Rep. Ben McAdams casts lone Utah vote to block Trump withdrawal from Paris climate accord

By Dennis Romboy, KSL | Posted - May 2, 2019 at 4:39 p.m.

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SALT LAKE CITY — Democratic Rep. Ben McAdams voted Thursday to block the Trump administration from exiting the Paris climate agreement, while the Republicans in the Utah delegation opposed the resolution.

The U.S. House passed the Climate Action Now Act that calls for the U.S. to remain part of the accord negotiated under former President Barack Obama in 2015. It also requires the White House to submit a plan to Congress for the U.S. to meet its voluntary commitments under the agreement.

The bill now goes to the Republican-led Senate where Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said it won't get a vote.

President Donald Trump announced in June 2017 that he would withdraw the U.S. from the Paris deal, though it cannot officially pull out of the agreement until 2020.

Under the agreement, the U.S. pledged to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 26 percent from 2005 levels by 2025.

"The U.S. is a country that stands by its commitments," McAdams said.

Air quality and health in Utah depend on reducing pollution, including emissions coming from cars and trucks, he said, adding that would be achieved in part by strengthening vehicle fuel economy, which saves consumers money and contributes to cleaner air.

Rep. John Curtis, R-Utah, gave a speech on the House floor Wednesday opposing the resolution, partly because it reinforces a "false narrative" that Republicans don't care about the environment because they're unwilling to get on board with an "all-or-nothing proposal, unrealistic approach to addressing climate change."

The resolution ignores that the U.S. commitment to the Paris agreement could cost $250 billion and nearly 3 million jobs in the next six years, he said. The agreement also allows China — the Earth’s largest greenhouse gas polluter — to increase its emissions through 2030, with little evidence to show it plans to comply, he said.

"I’ve heard over and over that the U.S. must remain in the Paris agreement to show leadership. What kind of leadership leads to double-digit unemployment in rural America but lets China off the hook?" Curtis said.

Leadership, he said, must focus on core principles of innovation, conservation, adaptation and preparation, which the resolutions fails to do.

McAdams said many Utah businesses are leading the transition to a clean energy economy and the good-paying jobs offered by renewable energy production, such as wind and solar. He said the U.S. continues to be a leader in science and innovation, providing the tools to reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and protect our planet.

Utah GOP Reps. Rob Bishop and Chris Stewart also voted against the bill.

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