Colorado Democratic attorney general candidates rip Trump on climate move, Coffman demurs
Author: Ernest Luning - June 2, 2017 - Updated: June 5, 2017
The three Democrats running for attorney general tore into President Donald Trump’s decision Thursday to withdraw the United States from a global climate agreement, but Republican incumbent Cynthia Coffman declined to weigh in, saying there’s no “legal necessity” for her to express an opinion on the matter.
Coffman told Colorado Politics she’s declined on two occasions recently to take sides on the raging controversy over Trump’s plans to exit the non-binding Paris Climate Accord, a landmark deal to limit greenhouse gas emissions signed last year by the Obama administration.
“In the past two months, I had an opportunity to review two sign-on letters circulated by some of my attorney general colleagues,” Coffman said. “Ten Republican attorneys general ultimately sent the president a letter supporting U.S. withdrawal from the Paris Climate Accord. Thirteen Democrat attorneys general wrote requesting that the president affirm the prior administration’s commitment to the global climate change agreement. My decision to decline adding my name to either letter reflects my opinion that as the state’s attorney general, there is no legal necessity for me to comment on non-binding international agreements. I remain of that opinion today.”
The Democrats who’ve said they’re running for attorney general next year — Coffman has a campaign committee but hasn’t formally declared she’s seeking a second term — had starkly different reactions than Coffman to Trump’s announcement.
All three chastised Trump’s move in strong terms and also pledged to protect Colorado’s natural resources as the state’s top law enforcement official.
“Like most Americans, I’m usually pretty disgusted with this administration,” said state Rep. Joe Salazar, D-Thornton, in a statement. “So, it comes as no surprise that the oil and gas industry’s lap dog (aka Trump administration) pulled out of the Paris climate agreement. It’s painfully obvious that this administration cares very little, if at all, for the environment or people.”
“I will reiterate that as Colorado’s next attorney general, I will protect people and the environment in a manner and vigor quite unlike this current Colorado attorney general,” Salazar said.
Former CU Law School Dean Phil Weiser likewise condemned Trump’s decision, particularly criticizing politicians and officials who sit on the sidelines rather than work to head off climate change.
“President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement undermines a major Obama administration accomplishment, threatens our country’s ability to lead the world on protecting our planet, and disregards the scientific consensus that climate change is a powerful threat that must be addressed immediately,” Weiser said in a statement.
“History will judge harshly the Trump administration and political leaders who fail to side with our planet and leave our children with a range of environmental challenges that will need to be addressed — and will get harder to manage over time,” Weiser added. “In Colorado, where we care deeply about protecting our land, air, and water, we need to continue to do our part and lead as a state in building a 21st-century economy that does not contribute to climate change.”
Michael Dougherty, the deputy district attorney for the 1st Judicial District, likewise denounced Trump’s withdrawal from the agreement.
“I strongly believe that our country must be a leader, not a denier, in fighting climate change and protecting our environment,” Dougherty said in a statement. The decision, he added, “takes us in the opposite, and absolutely wrong, direction.”
“As attorney general, I will fight to protect the land, water and environment of this great state — including our national parks and public lands,” Dougherty said. “For Colorado, this decision sends a clear signal that the Trump administration poses a real, immediate threat to our state’s resources. We need to preserve our lands for current and future residents and the thousands of tourists who want to visit and share Colorado with us.