WASHINGTON—When a coalition of more than 40 conservative political activists and energy industry advocates encouraged President Donald Trump in a May 8, 2017, letter to make good on his campaign promise to pull the United States out of the Paris Climate Accord, they likely had no idea how crucial that doing so would be for the president’s 2020 reelection campaign.
Even today, amid the House Democrats’ Ukraine-telephone call inspired impeachment frenzy, the official U.S. notification on Nov. 4 by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo of intent to withdraw from the agreement is easily missed in terms of its significance to Trump’s bid for another four years in the Oval Office.
Somebody who noticed is Grover Norquist, the founder and president of Americans for Tax Reform and one of the signers of the 2017 letter. Norquist told The Epoch Times on Nov. 5 that dropping the Paris deal is one of the two keys to a Trump victory next year.
“It’s a big deal because it means he’s serious about it,” Norquist said, noting that there was doubt in some quarters when Trump first indicated his desire to withdraw.
“This is ‘and I mean it,’ and it signals to everybody who’s trying to invest in the U.S. that we are actually going to be producing energy, we’re not going to ban fracking,” Norquist said.
Norquist called the Paris accord one of two significant threats to continuing the economic boom begun by the tax cuts and reforms approved by Trump and the Republican congressional majority in December 2017.
“I think there are twin dangers to the recovery and therefore to the reelection, and that is, one, trade wars slowing things down. In the last year, we should have been going gangbusters like we are now, with the decision not to increase tariffs on China. At least for now, we’re not going further in the tariff tit-for-tat.
“The second danger is, what if the Democrats win the White House or worse the House and the Senate and undo tax policy, regulatory reforms, and so on. But take the first danger out, and now, our position on the House, Senate, and reelection are better because the economy is stronger and the withdrawal is a sign to the world this is the policy we’re on, and it’s the policy we’re going to continue on. We are going to be the energy juggernaut that we planned to be.”
Dodging a Bullet
With the election still a year off, Trump’s reelection isn’t certain, of course, but the one thing critics of the 2015 agreement agree on today is that the United States dodges an economically deadly bullet by getting out of the Paris deal.
Actively backed by former President Barack Obama and then-Secretary of State John Kerry, the agreement, which was never submitted to the Senate for ratification as an international treaty, committed the United States to enact policies that would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 17 percent below 2005 levels by next year, and by as much as 28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025. (By contrast, China’s initial reductions were delayed to 2030).
Obama’s policies included a massive Clean Power Plant regulatory structure for all existing and new power plants, higher fuel economy standards for cars and trucks, strict regulation of methane emissions, and tougher energy conservation standards for existing and new buildings.
Obama went even further, however, by putting in place regulatory plans designed to reduce greenhouse emissions 83 percent over 2005 by 2050, according to the Heritage Foundation’s Nick Loris, an energy and environmental economist.
“That would have come with significantly high regulatory costs in the form of higher energy prices, so in that regard, I think we are saved from some of the costly policies that would likely have been imposed through this agreement,” Loris told The Epoch Times on Nov. 6.
Loris was among the Heritage authors of a 2016 study, based on an econometric analysis, that projected the Paris accord’s costs by 2025 as: an overall loss of nearly 400,000 jobs, primarily in manufacturing, the most energy intensive sector of the economy; an average total income loss of more than $20,000 for a family of four; and an aggregate loss of more than $2.5 trillion in the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), the total value of all goods and services produced by the U.S. economy in a year.
Loris said the actual costs, had the accord been fully implemented, would likely have been even higher than the Heritage study projected. And he cited the high costs of litigation that would have been filed by environmental groups seeking to force compliance by federal officials.
Even without the accord, U.S. greenhouse emissions are down 14 percent compared to 2005, due in no small part to the increasing use of natural gas, Loris added.
“We have a lot of cheap, abundant natural gas here and producers are taking advantage of that, and we are seeing the carbon footprint of the U.S. reduced as a consequence,” Loris said.
Thomas Pyle, president of the American Energy Alliance and one of the signers with Norquist of the 2017 letter to Trump, told The Epoch Times on Nov. 5 that even getting out of the Paris deal was intentionally made difficult.
“If you look at the way they constructed it, they tried to make it darn near impossible to get out of it,” Pyle said. “There were so many tripwires that the administration had to stumble through, and we had heard there was still some rumblings about it.”
Even so, Pyle said, “this was one of the big issues on which he withstood the onslaught of the corporations, and the greens, and so forth to do what I think is really the absolutely best thing for this country.”
Republican political strategist Matt Mackowiak told The Epoch Times that withdrawing from the Paris accord is good politics for the president.
“Trump’s voters see him as delivering on his promises and that explains their devotion to him, through thick and thin. Trump’s base is as intense as any I have ever seen,” Mackowiak said.
Contact Mark Tapscott at firstname.lastname@example.org