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Virginia joins U.S. Climate Alliance to fight climate change

Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe at First Landing State Park, Va. in April 2017 (PHOTO: Governor's Office)

RICHMOND, Va. — Virginia will join at least a dozen other states that make up the U.S. Climate Alliance. The alliance was formed after President Donald Trump announced last week that the United States was withdrawing from the Paris climate accord.

“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,” Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe said. “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 made up of California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York, Oregon, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington.

The governors of California, New York and Washington State created the United States Climate Alliance to convene states upholding the Paris Agreement and those “taking aggressive action on climate change,” they said in a statement.

“This administration is abdicating its leadership and taking a backseat to other countries in the global fight against climate change,” New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said.

The alliance plans to promote the sharing of information, environmental best practices and also “implement new programs to reduce carbon emissions from all sectors of the economy.”

“While the President’s actions are a shameful rebuke to the work needed to protect our planet for our children and grandchildren, states have been and will continue to step up,”
Washington Governor Jay Inslee said.


Haley: ‘President Trump believes the climate is changing’

President Trump does believe in climate change and that humans have a role in it, US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley told CNN’s Jake Tapper in an interview on “State of the Union.”

“President Trump believes the climate is changing and he believes pollutants are part of the equation,” Haley said Saturday, answering a central question in the wake of his decision to withdraw the country from the Paris climate accord.

Trump “knows that it’s changing and that the US has to be responsible for it and that’s what we’re going to do,” she continued, adding that withdrawing from the Paris agreement won’t change the country’s commitment to curbing climate change.

“Just because the US got out of a club doesn’t mean we aren’t going to care about the environment,” she said.

When asked why the US pulled out of the climate agreement, Haley blamed former President Barack Obama for agreeing to regulations that were “too onerous,” too strict and ultimately un-achievable.

“The regulations from the Paris agreement were disadvantaging our companies,” she said. “I knew that as a governor. The jobs were not attainable as long as we lived under those regulations. It was not possible to meet the goals had we attempted to.”

Referencing a previous tweet by Trump that had said climate change was “created by and for the Chinese in order to make US manufacturing non-competitive,” Tapper asked Haley whether she was willing to acknowledge that “calling climate change a Chinese hoax is just a big box of crazy?”

Haley declined to answer and instead insisted that Trump acknowledged climate changing was happening. She also said Trump knows the US has to be “responsible” with climate change.

Haley’s comments are the closest acknowledgment by an administration official since Trump took office that the President — who has called climate change a “hoax” on multiple occasions — believes global warming is occurring and humanity has a role in it. When asked in November by The New York Times if he believed human activity was connected to climate change, Trump acknowledged that there is “some connectivity.”

But he backed away from saying to what extent he believed humans were responsible, adding that it “also depends on how much it’s going to cost our companies.”

Trump has since shied away from giving his opinion on whether climate change is real. And in multiple instances, he and his administration have avoided using the term “climate change” altogether.

He even avoided using the words “climate change” in the 2,000-word speech he gave announcing the US would pull out from the Paris climate accord — a 2015 pact that focuses on curbing carbon emissions, which widely held to be responsible for climate change.

Asked Wednesday if Trump thinks human activity is contributing to climate change, White House press secretary Sean Spicer demurred, responding, “Honestly, I haven’t asked him that. I can get back to you.”

Two White House officials avoided similar questions at a background briefing with reporters after Trump’s speech Thursday. And Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt dodged the question in an interview with Tapper earlier this week and refused to answer when reporters pressed him about it at a White House briefing on Friday.

Haley told CNN that Trump will always have America’s best interests at heart, including what he does in regard to protecting the environment.

“The rest of the world wanted to tell us how to do it,” she said. “But we’ll do it under our own terms.”

CNN Wire contributed to this report