In recent weeks the Trump administration has intimated that it may abandon one of the president's most important campaign promises, which is to withdraw America from the deeply-flawed Paris Climate Agreement.
Donald Trump assured voters that he would put America and American workers first. But the 2016 Paris Agreement is essentially an agreement to put hundreds of thousands of middle-class American workers in coal, steel production, oil and gas, construction and manufacturing into unemployment lines.
Remaining in the pact commits the U.S. to reducing our carbon emissions by nearly 30% below 2005 levels — even though most of the world's major polluters will continue to emit massive amounts of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. That is why some supporters of the Paris Agreement concede that the gains would be "symbolic."
Our Heritage Foundation colleague Nick Loris estimates that, over the next decade, the agreement will cost Americans an extra $30,000 per family of four in higher energy prices) and some 400,000 lost jobs (200,000 in manufacturing alone). He likens the Paris Agreement to a $2.5 trillion global tax on American production. So the costs to America would be anything but "symbolic."
The Paris Agreement would effectively decapitate our coal industry, which now supplies about one-third of our electric power. If Trump allows this deal to go forward, he will unwittingly fulfill Hillary Clinton's arrogant and dastardly promise to put every coal miner in America out of a job.
We can't help wondering if the thousands of university professors, environmental activists, climatologists and government bureaucrats would be so enthusiastic if it were their jobs that were going to be eliminated.
While the liberal elites insist that American working-class families bear this burden, the rest of world is busy slipping out from under it. The ink was hardly dry on the Paris Agreement before it was clear that China and India — through their actions, not their words — have zero intention of honoring the agreement.
China, already the world's greatest polluter, recently announced plans to build hundreds more coal plants. Just the increase in Chinese coal production will equal all of Canada's energy consumption for an entire year. India, too, is building coal plants at a record pace.
These nations are putting economic growth for its citizens, and reliable and affordable energy for its fast-growing industries, as their highest priorities — as well they should. These goals are more pressing than the desire to reduce carbon dioxide — a colorless, odorless nontoxic gas that doesn't adversely affect public health and safety.
We have abundant coal in America — 500 years' worth. Unlike China, which has abysmal environmental standards, U.S. coal plants use technology to burn clean coal. It seems like every time we agree to shut down a coal plant and throw Americans out of jobs, China builds five new plants.
The left pretends that America can transition to a wondrous "renewable energy" future with no cost to the economy, but we ought to learn from the green energy debacles in Europe. Germany went all-in for green energy years ago. Today its citizens and industries pay energy costs almost triple what they are in the U.S. Germany, Sweden, Spain and now Australia are retreating from their green energy commitments because they have done so much damage to their local economies.
The Paris Agreement would force America to march in their footsteps — and right off the green energy economic cliff.
Since President Obama signed the Paris Agreement, American taxpayers have forked over nearly $1 billion to a green energy slush fund that will be redistributed to most of the other 170 nations who have signed the pact. If we stay in the agreement, billions more will doubtless follow. Trump should just say no to this feckless scheme.
The path to reduced greenhouse gases is not a feel-good international agreement filled with hollow promises and redistributionist policies. Technology and economic growth — not government dictates — are what allow nations to clean and safeguard the planet. Fracking and horizontal drilling have given America — and soon the rest of the world — cheap, abundant, clean-burning natural gas. These developments have done far more to reduce carbon emissions that all the government-directed green energy programs combined.
One final point: Trump has discussed the possibility of unwinding the domestic regulations associated with the agreement, but not fully withdrawing. This is a big mistake. If he does not do a clean break from this agreement, he leaves in place the framework, and the potential for future funding obligations and regulations.
Trump said it best on the campaign trail: America can't lead internationally if our economy isn't growing here at home.
His administration can exert strong international leadership by unwinding the domestic climate change regulations and withdrawing from the entire United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. It's been a bad deal for America for decades. It's time to send China, India and the rest of the world a message they will surely understand.
That message is: We value the well-being of our citizens so much, we refuse to surrender our productivity and sovereignty to international leaders. American workers need to hear sensible messages like that far more than they need a costly, job-killing "symbolic" victory.
This piece originally appeared in Investors Business Daily