Olson: U.S. was right to pull out of Paris agreement
Earlier this month, President Trump announced America's withdrawal from the Paris agreement on climate change. It's important to examine why he was right.
First, this agreement was a global treaty that President Obama refused to send to the U.S. Senate for "advice and consent" as required under the Constitution. This circumvention of the Constitution was a hallmark of the Obama administration and invites a new administration to reverse these actions. Failure to properly vet the agreement through the Senate as a treaty severely limits any ability to enforce the terms.
Second, the goal of the Paris agreement was to reduce carbon emissions across the globe, but expressly allows China and other larger polluters to grow carbon emissions for over a decade. America has slashed its carbon emissions in recent years, thanks to new technology driven largely by economics, not mandates. The Paris agreement committed America to steep reductions, while allowing polluting nations to increase emissions levels through 2030. Poor air quality in cities like Beijing is proof that other nations lag far behind the U.S. on cleaning up coal plants and factories.
Supporters of the agreement argue it was technically nonbinding. Yet legal experts concluded that the U.S. would be open to legal challenges for failure to act. The result of arbitrary hurdles under the Paris agreement would be a U.S. economy held hostage to rising energy prices and a competitive disadvantage at home against other nations on the global stage.
The Paris agreement was written to secure buy-in from all nations. This translates into heavy polluters being allowed to maintain the status quo while pushing America to keep regulating, putting our nation at a distinct economic disadvantage. The pressure is not evenly distributed across the globe, with China and India adding coal-fired capacity well into the future. President Trump said, "The agreement doesn't eliminate coal jobs, it just transfers those jobs out of America and the United States and ships them to foreign countries."
America is already developing energy that reduces our carbon footprint. Clean-burning natural gas - much of it from Texas - is a significant part of our nation's electric grid. That's good for our state and the environment. Texas also leads the nation in wind power. During certain periods we have more wind energy than we can use. That's clean energy that creates jobs here in Texas. We are also increasing our use of rooftop solar and just south of Houston; a nuclear plant also powers our region.
In the district I am blessed to represent, a unique coal plant is fitted with equipment to capture most of the carbon produced before it enters the air. That carbon is then pressurized underground at old oil fields to help increase energy production. It's a win-win we hope to replicate across the country. Our region continues to lead on energy development.
Subsequent to President Trump's withdrawal from the Paris agreement, numerous corporations, states and cities have stated plans to adopt standards on their own. That is a welcome counter to a heavy-handed federal mandate entered into unilaterally. Those who wish to set lower emissions standards are free to do so. They are better-equipped to make decisions for their stakeholders that don't tie the hands of others that cannot afford to do so.
By developing smart policies that tap into business ingenuity and technological advancements, we can improve air quality and strengthen our economy without the Paris agreement. President Trump's "put America first" priority is a welcome change from the Obama administration's far-left agenda to stifle our economy through a lack of global leadership and overreaching regulations on our energy sector.
Olson, a Republican representing the 22nd Congressional District of Texas in the U.S. House of Representatives, is a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and vice chairman of the Energy Subcommittee.