We the People: The forces behind Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Accord

Donald Trump’s announcement that the U.S. will withdraw from the Paris climate change agreement was quickly condemned by environmentalists. He claimed the agreement would cost America too much while hurting the economy and workers. He called the agreement an “example of Washington entering into an agreement that disadvantages the United States, to the exclusive benefit of other countries, leaving American workers, who I love, and taxpayers to absorb the cost in terms of lost jobs, lower wages, shuttered factories and vastly diminished economic production.”

The decision adds the U.S. to Syria and Nicaragua in the short list of nations choosing not to participate in the agreement which will make it difficult for the remaining 190 nations to reach the agreed goals including a reduction in average world temperatures, since the U.S. is responsible for about 15 percent of global emissions of carbon. Hopefully, Mr. Trump has some love for clean air and clean water, too.

The agreement would not force America to adopt regulations or close factories. Mr. Trump failed to explain how the agreement containing aspirational goals would force the U.S. to adopt regulations that would stop profitable economic activity. Mr. Trump based his negative opinion of the agreement on conservative reports provided by think tanks like the Heritage Foundation which unsurprisingly applauded the president’s decision.

The Heritage Foundation is an influential conservative think tank that provides information and research on topics, including energy and education. It receives monetary support from a substantial list of right-wing donors, including the Koch Brothers and the DeVos family.

Its research provided the basis for Mr. Trump’s pro-fossil fuel energy platform. Conservatives use its research to claim the climate agreement promised a dramatic expansion of the administrative state and a huge increase in the regulatory burden on businesses in America.

However, the agreement called for member nations to begin to take measures to reduce carbon emissions by 2020 and to announce national energy measures to combat climate change. No regulations have been passed and there is no penalty for failure if emission reduction goals are not met.

The Heritage Foundation produced a study which concluded the agreement would cost a family of four $20,000 a year in increased electricity costs by 2035.

The Heritage Foundation received $650,000 from the Claude R. Lambe Foundation, a Koch Family foundation, in 2012. The Koch Brothers oppose all climate change legislation. A 2011 University of Massachusetts think tank reported “Koch Industries and its subsidiaries emitted over 24 million tons of carbon dioxide from 50 sites,” as much as … emitted by five million cars.”

Around 2012, Koch Industries’ lobbying arm, advocated for the Energy Tax Prevention Act, which would have rolled back the Supreme Court’s ruling that the EPA could regulate greenhouse gases. They had to wait until 2016 for Donald Trump to have their wishes fulfilled.

The Koch brothers, Charles and David, own Koch Industries with an annual revenue of $115 billion. It manufactures, refines and distributes petroleum and owns coal mining operations.

David was the Libertarian Party’s VP candidate in 1980. He advocated for the abolition of Social Security, the FBI, the CIA and public schools. The brothers’ network of groups pledged to spend $889 million during President Obama’s second term to set the stage for the 2016 presidential election.

Nick Loris, an analyst at the Heritage Foundation, is often quoted by conservatives when discussing government energy policies. He co-authored the Heritage Foundation’s “Blueprint for Reform,” meant to be a comprehensive budget proposal for the DOE.

It proposed eliminating DOE’s offices of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability, Fossil Energy, Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, and Nuclear Energy. It proposed to shut the Loan Programs Office, eliminate the strategic petroleum reserve and privatize the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Loris admitted the proposals are not based on economics and that his opposition to the DOE is that the federal government “shouldn’t be doing this in the first place.”

Should Nick Loris be the influence that drives White House decision-making? An economist who received a master’s degree in economics at George Mason University and was given a Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation fellowship which brought him to the Heritage Foundation, he places no great importance on the DOE’s nuclear weapons storage and nuclear waste cleanup programs although they account for almost two-thirds of the agency’s expenditures.

Michael Lind, a former Heritage Foundation fellow, described how whenever he submitted a policy paper that did not fit into a conservative paradigm by supporting low taxes or scant regulation of business or markets, it was rejected. He witnessed first hand that position papers did not have to comport with the facts or the Constitution as long as they supported a conservative position.

Mr. Lind became disillusioned with the foundation’s “willingness to sacrifice truth to propaganda.” Should the Heritage Foundation propaganda mill be treated as a source of information for presidential decision making? Since it plays with facts and is beholden to fossil energy billionaires like the Koch brothers, the president should disregard its policy paper peddlers when making important energy decisions.

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