Trump: Withdrawal Puts Youngstown Before Paris

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Youngstown was tossed into the national spotlight by a U.S. president yesterday — but not as favorably as in the past.

The city was among three Donald Trump mentioned at the close of his remarks announcing his intention to withdraw the United States from the global pact known as the Paris climate accord.

It is “time to exit” the accord and “pursue a new deal that protects the environment, our companies, our citizens and our country,” the president announced Thursday.

It is time to put Youngstown, Ohio; Detroit, Mich.; and Pittsburgh, Pa.; along with many, many other locations in our country, before Paris, France,” he said. The pact imposes “draconian” standards on U.S. businesses.

Trump did not specify how the climate pact harms Youngstown.

Still recovering from the steel shutdowns that began 40 years ago, Youngstown and the region lost manufacturing jobs in recent years because of the downturn in oil and gas exploration, driven by low energy prices that make such exploration less profitable. The General Motors plant in Lordstown, which manufactures the fuel-efficient Chevrolet Cruze, has reduced its workforce and production hours.

Notably, according to news reports, all three of the communities Trump cited voted for his Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton, in last year’s presidential election.

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto offered his assurance that the city would respect the goals of the Paris accord, despite Trump’s announcement. “As the mayor of Pittsburgh, I can assure you that we will follow the guidelines of the Paris Agreement for our people, our economy & future,” he said in a tweet.

The United States was among nearly 200 nations that signed the agreement two years ago and pledged to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross called the decision “one more important step towards restoring the primacy of American workers and American businesses by unshackling them” from what he characterized as a “terrible deal.”

The Paris accord “imposes little responsibility on the world’s largest emitters, while costing the U.S. economy $3 trillion in reduced output, six million industrial jobs, and three million manufacturing jobs,” an amount of “economic carnage” he called “unjustified.”

Trump’s announcement spurred two business titans – tech entrepreneur Elon Musk and Bob Iger, chairman and CEO of the Walt Disney Co. – to resign from the White House business advisory council.

Local leaders welcomed the attention Trump’s predecessor, President Barack Obama, brought to Youngstown when he mentioned the city’s additive manufacturing hub in his 2013 and 2014 State Of the Union Addresses.

But yesterday Mahoning Valley officials were not pleased.

Nothing about the withdrawal indicates any kind of job creation for the city, Mayor John McNally said.

“The Trump Administration has never discussed how the withdrawal would better the lives of Youngstown residents,” he continued. “So while it’s nice to hear our city’s name, there is no substance to the thought of putting us with other cities before Paris.”

U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan, D-13 Ohio, called Trump’s “disastrous decision” to exit the pact a “stunning abandonment of American leadership abroad.” The withdrawal poises the United States to join the ranks of Syria and Nicaragua as one of only three nations not to participate in the agreement, he said in a statement.

“It hurts places like Ohio, where the transition to a cleaner, more sustainable energy economy could bring jobs back to our communities. It hurts our planet by once again continuing to ignore the perils of global climate change. And finally it hurts our national security,” Ryan said.

Climate change can amplify or worsen tensions that lead to conflict, and since 2010 the U.S. military has designated climate change as “a crucial factor” in national security planning, he continued.

“President Trump’s insistence on ignoring, muzzling, or twisting scientific research to pretend climate change is not an issue puts us all in immediate and long term danger. Future generations will not look kindly on this decision, nor should they. This is a sad day for our nation and for the world,” Ryan said.

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, also criticized Trump’s decision.

“Ohio is already creating jobs manufacturing fuel efficient cars, energy-efficient appliances, and renewable energy, and leaving this agreement would pull this rug out from Ohio’s work to create jobs in this growing sector,” Brown said.

Refusing to act on climate change also means letting harmful algae blooms on Lake Erie threaten clean drinking water and hurt local tourism jobs, Brown said.

U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson, R-6 Ohio, whose district covers the southern portion of Mahoning County and all of Columbiana County, praised Trump’s decision. Under the Paris agreement, communities in eastern and southeastern Ohio that depend on fossil fuels would have been “disproportionately harmed” he said.

“Meanwhile, under the same agreement, other countries like China and India are allowed to increase their coal consumption, while here at home we would have handcuffed ourselves for no economic benefit. This non-binding pact represented an ‘America second’ strategy,” he remarked.

U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly called Trump’s decision “great news for the American people” and “a victory for our economy, our sovereignty and our Constitution.” The Paris agreement “was written with Americans and their elected representatives as an afterthought,” resulting in “domestic harm for American workers, taxpayers, consumers, manufacturers and energy producers,” Kelly said.

“We would shoulder most of the cost and gain no measurable reward,” he remarked. “I have complete confidence in our country’s ability to protect both our economy and our environment at the same time, and I applaud President Trump’s strong commitment to this goal.”

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.