Colorado leaders react to Trump’s decision to exit Paris accord on climate change

Author: Joey Bunch - June 2, 2017 - Updated: June 2, 2017

People and activists of Greenpeace protest with a sign reading “Airtrump – free ticket – From: Paris – To: Hell” against the decision of the US government to exit the Paris climate deal in front of US Embassy in Bern, Switzerland, Friday, June 2, 2017. (Anthony Anex/Keystone via AP)

Colorado leaders left and right had strong feelings about President Trump’s symbolic withdrawal from the 2015 Paris climate accord Thursday.

Here is a digest of what  people said.

Gov. John Hickenlooper:

“It is a serious mistake to back out of the Paris Accord. This is a historic global agreement between almost every nation on earth to address the single most pressing issue facing humanity. Abandoning this climate deal is like ripping off your parachute when you should be pulling the ripcord. America’s greatness has always been demonstrated by our moral leadership. Today, we break ranks with 190 nations who are working together to stop the worst effects of climate change, which the scientific community agrees would devastate the global economy and our planet, and the defense community agrees would destabilize vulnerable nations that have served as breeding grounds for international terrorism.

“The U.S. is letting go the reins of world leadership, allowing other countries like Russia, India, and China to take our seat at the international table. Our economic and technological competitiveness will suffer. Isolationism is not leadership. Colorado’s commitment to clean air and clean energy will continue. Clean energy is abundant, home-grown, and creates 21st century jobs for our modern workforce across every part of our state. We renew our commitment to pursue cleaner energy at a lower cost. To do otherwise would be governmental malpractice.”

Colorado U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet:

“The President made a catastrophic mistake by putting a misguided campaign promise before the needs of our economy and the credibility of American diplomacy,” Bennet said. “Before this decision, the United States was on track to achieve energy independence, reduce its carbon footprint, and create good-paying jobs in rural communities—with Colorado leading the way. Withdrawing from the Paris Agreement attempts to undercut the progress we have made.

“In Colorado, we will continue working to meet the carbon emissions targets set in the Clean Power Plan. The administration should reverse this shortsighted decision and work to protect our planet, economy, and national security.”

State Sen. Ray Scott, R-Grand Junction:

“The U.S. is the leader in clean reliable energy, being part of the Paris agreement was symbolic at best. We have a 100 year history using fossil fuels and beyond to better everything from clean water, clean air advanced medical equipment to shoes on our feet, we’ll be just fine without the Paris Agreement.”

State Rep. Leslie Herod, D-Denver:

“Coloradans value our natural heritage and our lands. Our leaders know it’s not a partisan issue – it’s our collective livelihood. That’s the Colorado way. The Paris Accords are about protecting people. Declining economies and scarce resources are certain outcomes. Marginalized communities in urban and rural Colorado will be hit the hardest.

“And since the White House won’t lead, Colorado will. Tomorrow, I will join my colleagues to create a bipartisan plan to help protect Coloradans from the untold consequences of the president’s failed leadership on this issue.”

Jon Goldin-Dubois, president of Boulder-based Western Resource Advocates:

“President Trump’s decision to back the United States out of the Paris Climate Accord is short-sighted and unwise. Climate change is one of the most pressing challenges of the 21st century, and its effects, like drought and increased wildfires are already being seen here in the American West. As the second largest emitter of carbon dioxide pollution, the U.S. should lead on efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

“If the President of the United States fails to lead, the American people and leaders in our western States will. Western Resource Advocates will continue to work with elected leaders with our communities, with leaders in the clean energy industry and with investors on smart and economical solutions to reduce carbon pollution.”

Pete Maysmith, executive director of Conservation Colorado:

“This is a disappointing and infuriating day, and the president has shown once again that he is reckless. The power and leadership on clean energy and climate change now shifts to states, cities and the private sector. Whatever Governor Hickenlooper, mayors, county commissioners, and other leaders across our state had been planning to do on climate change – they must now do twice as much. The time for bold action is now.”

Jimmy Sengenberger, president and CEO of the Millennial Policy Center:

“President Trump’s decision to pull out of the Paris Agreement on climate change is the right move, for all of the reasons so aptly expressed by the president in his Rose Garden statement this afternoon. The fact remains that former President Obama’s decision to sign on to the accord was unconstitutional in the first place, as a binding treaty requires Senate confirmation. In effect, what President Trump just did was reinstate a fundamental constitutional tenet. As one Millennial Policy Center fellow put it, ‘If you like your unconstitutionally signed, financed, and implemented U.N. treaty, you can keep your unconstitutionally signed, financed and implemented U.N. treaty.’

“… While we agree that humans do impact our climate in some ways, our response must not be disproportionate and come at the expense of the economy and American livelihoods. We applaud President Trump’s decision today and hope that he will take a more thoughtful, measured approach to leading on this important issue moving forward.”

U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter:

“President Trump’s decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris Climate Agreement is wrong and takes our country and Colorado backwards not forward. I’m disappointed and frustrated by this decision. Clearly climate change is a threat to our way of life in Colorado.

“Colorado is a proven leader in developing technologies that reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions. I will continue to fight for the progress we’ve made in Colorado and push to reduce the impact of climate change in our communities.”

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Cary Kennedy:

“President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement takes our nation backwards. Climate change is the greatest threat to humanity. With or without Washington’s help, Colorado will continue to lead. Scientists and engineers here in Colorado are world leaders in developing, producing and marketing advanced solar and wind technologies. We can keep electricity affordable, reduce carbon pollution and bring new jobs to Colorado, especially in rural Colorado. In 2015, cleantech businesses employed 4,250 workers in eastern Colorado alone. This lays the foundation for economic prosperity for our state for decades to come.

“Colorado should have the cleanest air in the country, and be a model for the nation in using clean, renewable sources of energy. To accomplish this goal, I propose Colorado raise its renewable energy standard from 30% to at least 50%. In 2004 Colorado passed the first in the nation, voter-approved renewable energy standard. We will likely reach this target ahead of time and it’s time we raised it.”

Colorado Sierra Club Jim Alexee:

“This president and his administration are on the wrong side of history with this remarkably short-sighted decision. Global climate change is an issue that requires moral and political leadership from the U.S. and energy-rich states like Colorado.

“If our federal government isn’t going to make smart decisions for our environment and economy, it’s time that U.S. cities and states take the lead. Here in Colorado, Pueblo, Boulder and Aspen have committed to 100 percent clean and renewable energy by 2030; it’s time for leaders across Colorado to act by embracing the future and boldly committing to a sustainable future.”

Joey Bunch

Joey Bunch

Joey Bunch is the senior political correspondent for Colorado Politics. He has a 31-year career in journalism, including the last 15 in Colorado. He was part of the Denver Post team that won the Pulitzer Prize in 2013 and is a two-time Pulitzer finalist. His resume includes covering high school sports, the environment, the casino industry and civil rights in the South, as well as a short stint at CNN.


  • Marco

    June 2, 2017 at 8:40 am

    Hey Joey, did you notice how the democrat talking heads all speak of a “failure” of leadership on Trumps part? Was is a failure that obama signed a non-binding agreement and couldn’t get it ratified? Notice their collusion in their statements. I’m sure the media issued them the preferred talking points.

    • Joan Rhodes

      June 3, 2017 at 10:44 am

      I agree with our President why should we let other countries have our money to tell us what to do.If the Liberals think it was so good put your own money in the pot.We are tired of you all wasting our tax money and ruining jobs in our country.A farmer can not even plow his fields without getting fines.This makes about as much sense as leaving the refrigerator door open to cool your house down.Also how many do our representatives have solar panels on there homes.

  • Vanessa Woodford

    June 2, 2017 at 11:34 am

    And Cory Gardner?…cory? Cory?

  • Will Walker

    June 3, 2017 at 12:34 pm

    Not getting the climate treaty ratified was a direct result of the GOP obstructionism of Obama. It was a failure of GOP leadership that continues today aņd is magnified by the stupid embarrassment and pig of a man in the Oval Office today.

  • Gerry Santo

    June 4, 2017 at 11:38 am

    The democrats and Republicans condemning the President’s decision have one important thing in common: none seem to have read the damn thing. People who’ve actually read the document know it does very, very little to promote climate change – but the transfer of American money to support God knows what is prominently featured. Some of the major polluters such as China and India are not affected for at least ten years, and even then, there is no mandate to reduce their dirty air. We, on the other hand, are expected to simply cease using coal and reduce our electrical capacity by a third, while sending away billions of dollars to the Third World. No wonder the rest of the world is in an uproar – Mr. Trump has cancelled their big payday.
    By opposing the President’s action, liberal democrats are endorsing all this nonsense, and those of us not fooled by a document where the only real mention of “climate change” is in the title won’t forget what they are trying to do to us.

    • Shawn Adams

      June 10, 2017 at 1:24 pm

      That’s what I’ve been saying. It will save us billions of dollars.

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