Local leaders react to President Trump’s withdrawal from Paris Climate deal

By Brenda Flanagan

You probably won’t find more seawater flooding Jersey boardwalks because of Donald Trump’s decision to pull out of the Paris climate agreement, but you might see a swell of local resistance precisely because New Jersey is so vulnerable to rising oceans. Democrats and environmental advocates gathered in Asbury Park to send Trump a message.

“We are going to resist,” said Rep. Frank Pallone. “We’re going to say that’s not acceptable! You either change or we’re going to try to bring about the changes that are necessary … We reject what you did and we’re going to act on our own.”

“It’s undeniably reckless and we’re going to do everything we can to make sure we’re still acting on climate in New Jersey,” said Doug O’Malley, director of Environment New Jersey.

New Jersey’s newly-formed Sustainable Business Council executive criticized what he called, Trump’s “outmoded 20th Century business model” that he says prioritizes fossil fuels over green energy.

“By pulling out of the Paris Agreement, the Trump administration is chasing inertia over innovation, dead dinosaurs over the sun and the wind,” said Richard Lawton, executive director of the NJ Sustainable Business Council.

“I think it’s wrong and I think he should really re-evaluate his priorities,” said Matthew Hervily, manager of 3rd and Ocean.

Out of seven businesses we unscientifically polled along Asbury’s boardwalk, a couple had no comment and the rest found little to like about the president’s decision.

“The climate still is changing and we definitely need to do something about it and this is just a major setback,” said ModaPosa manager Allie Ens.

“It’s just crazy to me that people can’t just come to the table and have an intelligent conversation about where our world is going,” Marilyn Schlossbach, owner of Lightly Salted.

In the wake of Trump’s withdrawal, Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop and Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer announced they’d joined more than 85 other mayors in a special climate coalition. The newly-formed U.S. Climate Alliance so far boasts four governors from New York, Connecticut, California and Washington state — but not New Jersey.

Gov. Christie said yesterday he opposed the Paris Agreement as a presidential candidate and he opposes it now. But New Jersey’s Republican delegation appears to be split on the president’s decision.

Rep. Tom MacArthur stated in support, “In any future agreement, we must protect American workers from a competitive disadvantage and ensure that nations across the globe also carry their weight.”

But Rep. Leonard Lance echoed Secretary of State Rex Tillerson who favored remaining in the agreement, noting, “ … it is in our best national interests to remain at the table to ensure a constructive role in negotiating the best deal for America concerning the future of global energy production …”

The two other New Jersey Republican congressmen didn’t issue statements. Meanwhile, in Newark, opposition crystallized.

“When we have a president that retreats from the fight on environmental justice, we know that he is attacking not just all Americans, but particularly are attacking African-Americans,” said Sen. Cory Booker.

Politicians excoriated the president in Newark where the number one health reason children miss school is asthma.

“This is not a time when we’re going to give up, or we’re just going to step back and criticize what’s going on. This is a time when we are uniting to fight Donald Trump’s policies, to fight for our children, to fight for our communities, to fight for our communities, to fight for our health, welfare and safety,” Booker said.

The president’s decision is apparently driving a rising tide of opposition.

Peril and Promise is an ongoing series of reports on the human impact of, and solutions for, Climate Change. Lead funding for Peril and Promise is provided by Dr. P. Roy Vagelos and Diana T. Vagelos. Major support is provided by Marc Haas Foundation.