RICHMOND, Va. (WHSV) — Governor Terry McAuliffe has announced that Virginia is joining a coalition of states vowing to uphold the Paris climate accord.
The Democratic governors of California, New York and Washington formed the United States Climate Alliance June 1, after President Donald Trump’s announcement that he would withdraw the United States from the international pact.
Since that time, twelve states, plus Virginia, have joined the alliance.
McAuliffe's announcement on Monday came shortly after he signed an executive order to begin the process of capping carbon emissions by electric utilities in Virginia.
“As the first state in the Trump era to take executive action to limit carbon emissions and create clean energy jobs, Virginia is proud to join the U.S. Climate Alliance,” said Governor McAuliffe. “President Trump's announcement to withdraw the United States from the Paris Climate Agreement does not speak for the states and cities that are committed to fighting climate change and paving the way for a new energy economy. If the federal government insists on abdicating leadership on this issue, it will be up to the American people to step forward – and in Virginia we are doing just that.”
In addition to Virginia, the U.S. Climate Alliance is composed of the states of California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York, Oregon, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington.
The alliance has raised some questions among Constitutional scholars, however, who point to the Interstate Compacts Clause, article I, section 10, clause 3, which provides that “no state … may enter into any Agreement or Compact with another State, or with a foreign power,” without the consent of Congress.
As details of the agreement become clearer, those questions may be resolved.
Attorneys general from nineteen states have also joined forces as part of the "We Are Still In" coalition, including Virginia's Attorney General Mark Herring.
"Climate change is a real and urgent threat to Virginia's economy, environment, and the health of our citizens," said Attorney General Herring. "I am proud to work with Governor McAuliffe, our mayors, and our allies in public office and the private sector around the country to address climate change and enjoy the economic, environmental, and health benefits of cleaner air and cleaner water. In the absence of leadership in Washington, we must step up and we will."
You can find the full press release from the U.S. Climate Alliance, as distributed by the office of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, below:
UNITED STATES CLIMATE ALLIANCE ADDS 10 NEW MEMBERS TO COALITION COMMITTED TO UPHOLDING THE PARIS ACCORD
U.S. Climate Alliance, co-chaired by Governors Cuomo, Brown and Inslee, Now Includes 13 Members
The U.S. Climate Alliance announced that Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Oregon, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, Vermont and Virginia have all joined the coalition, which is committed to upholding the Paris Accord and taking aggressive action on climate change.
In response to President Trump's decision to withdraw from the Paris Accord, New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, California Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr., and Washington State Governor Jay Inslee formed the Alliance to convene U.S. states committed to achieving the U.S. goal of reducing emissions 26-28 percent from 2005 levels and meeting or exceeding the targets of the federal Clean Power Plan.
With input from all participants, the U.S. Climate Alliance will also act as a forum to sustain and strengthen existing climate programs, promote the sharing of information and best practices, and implement new programs to reduce carbon emissions from all sectors of the economy.
"As the federal government turns its back on the environment, New York and states across the country are picking up the mantle of climate leadership and showing the world it’s possible to address climate change while also creating good-paying careers," said Governor Cuomo. "The U.S. Climate Alliance is committed to meeting the standards set forth in the Paris Accord regardless of Washington’s irresponsible actions. We welcome these 10 new members and look forward to collaborating and maintaining the momentum in the global effort to protect our planet, while jumpstarting the clean energy economy."
"The President has already said climate change is a hoax, which is the exact opposite of virtually all scientific and worldwide opinion," said Governor Brown. "I don't believe fighting reality is a good strategy – not for America, not for anybody. If the President is going to be AWOL in this profoundly important human endeavor, then California and other states will step up."
"Those of us who understand science and feel the urgency of protecting our children's air and water are as united as ever in confronting one of the greatest challenges of our lifetime," said Governor Inslee. "Our collective efforts to act on climate will ensure we maintain the U.S.'s commitment to curb carbon pollution while advancing a clean energy economy that will bring good-paying jobs to America's workers."
"Connecticut has been a national leader in combating climate change and we have no plans of slowing down our efforts," said Connecticut Governor Dannel P. Malloy. "In the absence of leadership from the White House in addressing climate change, it is incumbent upon the states to take action in order to protect their residents. We remain committed to meeting the standards set forth in the Paris Climate Agreement because it is the right thing to do for not only the future of our state, but for the future of our planet. I am proud to stand with my fellow governors in support of efforts to reverse the harmful effects of global warming and to send a message to the rest of the world that we accept the science of climate change and we will not let the misguided beliefs of a few ruin our planet."
"Delaware is the country’s lowest-lying state and with 381 miles of coastline, climate change is a very real threat to our future," said Delaware Governor John Carney. "As sea levels rise, more than 17,000 Delaware homes, nearly 500 miles of roadway and thousands of acres of wildlife habitat including our critical wetlands are at risk of permanent inundation. Rising average temperatures and an increase in extreme weather events also pose health risks to Delawareans, and threaten our economy. The U.S. should lead in the global fight against climate change. Delaware is proud to join this coalition of states providing that necessary leadership."
"As the Commonwealth reiterates its commitment to exceed the emission reduction targets of the Paris Climate Agreement, today we join the U.S. Climate Alliance to expand on our efforts while partnering with other states to combat climate change," Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker said. "After speaking with Governors Cuomo and Scott, our administration looks forward to continued, bipartisan collaboration with other states to protect the environment, grow the economy and deliver a brighter future to the next generation."
"I am very pleased to announce that Minnesota will join the U.S. Climate Alliance, to uphold the tenets of the Paris Climate Change Agreement in our state," said Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton. "President Trump’s withdrawal will cause serious damage to our environment and our economy. Nevertheless, Minnesota and other states will show the world what we can achieve by working together to conserve energy, to use cleaner and renewable energy, and to leave a livable planet to our children and grandchildren."
“The ‘America First’ doctrine should put our children first too,” said Oregon Governor Kate Brown. “Future generations deserve to inherit a world they can thrive in, not one that plays politics and ignores the fact our climate is changing. Despite the decision by the White House to retreat, it is our moral obligation to fulfill the goals of the Paris Agreement. Oregon will continue to make meaningful strides, with the rest of the world, to ensure our communities and economies adapt to meet the challenge of climate change."
"Climate change is a real problem for all and requires immediate action to ensure future generations are left with a sustainable planet," Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rosselló said. “Our administration is committed to protecting the environment. As a Governor, who is also a scientist, I value science and data as primary tools in the decision making process. As such, I strongly oppose the withdrawal from the Paris Agreement. Our administration understands that all policy decisions even those perceived to being small can have big, lasting effects on our planet. Puerto Rico, an Island that 3.4 million American Citizens call home, would suffer greatly from the devastating effects of rising sea levels. But we all stand to lose if we don't take meaningful action right now.
"We call upon all public officials across our nation to continue to support rules and regulations that protect our environment. As most of the world move forwards, our nation cannot sit idle and lag behind."
"President Trump's decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement was a tremendous mistake. Rhode Island may be a small state, but climate change can have a big impact on our communities," said Rhode Island Governor Gina M. Raimondo. "We are determined to fight climate change from the front lines so that we can preserve our environment - including our Narragansett Bay - for future generations and create good-paying, future-proof jobs in the process. I'm proud to join Governors Cuomo, Brown and Inslee in this effort and hope other governors - from both parties - join as well."
"Growing our economy and protecting our environment by supporting cleaner and more affordable energy and transportation choices can go together," said Vermont Governor Phil Scott. “If our national government isn’t willing to lead in this area, the states are prepared to step up and lead. I look forward to supporting continued bipartisan cooperation on these matters and thank Governor Baker, Governor Inslee, Governor Cuomo and Governor Brown for working collaboratively on this important issue."
"As the first state in the Trump era to take executive action to limit carbon emissions and create clean energy jobs, Virginia is proud to join the Climate Alliance," said Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe. "President Trump's announcement to withdraw the United States from the Paris Climate Agreement does not speak for the states and cities that are committed to fighting climate change and paving the way for a new energy economy. If the federal government insists on abdicating leadership on this issue, it will be up to the American people to step forward -- and in Virginia we are doing just that."
Office of Governor Terence R. McAuliffe
Assistant Communications Director