May 6, 2019

Washington, DC— Representative John Curtis (R-UT), member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, released the following statement after voting against HR 9: Climate Action Now Act.

“House Democrats had an opportunity to work with Republicans on a path towards addressing growing international environmental issues, but instead opted toward politicizing the issue and refusing to work with Republicans toward a bipartisan solution that could be signed into law,” said Curtis. “Twice, I offered a good-faith amendment that would bring transparency to the emissions produced by all countries in the agreement, including foreign heavy polluters like China—both times it was shot down on a partisan basis. I want to ensure our efforts actually improve the environment, avoid damaging our economy, and are based on facts, not politics.”

The Congressman’s proposed amendment to HR 9 was voted down during the “Foreign Assistance Budget and Policy Priorities” House Foreign Affairs hearing last month. Only 3 Republican amendments were considered compared to the 26 Democrat amendments that were debated. 

Rep. Curtis spoke on the House floor to outline his concerns about the costs and effectiveness of the legislation, the potential job losses in rural America, the United States innovation and technological development that have resulted in the US already leading the world in reducing greenhouse gas, and his frustration that China—the earth’s largest greenhouse gas polluter—is shown leniency. 

“I’ve heard over and over that the US must remain in the Paris Agreement to ‘show leadership.’ What kind of leadership leads to double-digit unemployment in rural America but lets China off the hook?  I agree that America must continue to show leadership. But let’s focus on leadership that goes back to the core principles of innovation, conservation, adaptation, and preparation. [HR 9] fails to do any of that.

Let’s continue leading the world in bettering our environment—but let’s not pretend that HR 9 is the silver bullet to our evolving world. It’s time to stop with the easy, cheap rhetoric that offers false promises and divides our country even further.”

The Congressman’s full remarks, as prepared for delivery, are below:

“Utahns believe in being good stewards of our planet—leaving the earth better than we found it. When I served as the mayor of Provo, we pursued policies to construct LEAD certified buildings, create more environmentally friendly public transit options, and educate residents on how they could be better stewards of their environment.

We had considered these efforts to be meaningful steps in the right direction. Imagine my surprise when I arrived in Congress and learned of the dangerous “winner-take-all” system of governing that has overtaken Washington, especially on issues impacting the environment. Instead of a pragmatic approach to positive change through small and consistent consensus, an all-or-nothing approach dominates the debate and villainizes all but the most extreme positions.

Congress is a place where ideological purity is rewarded more than results. It is easy to vote on a messaging bill, that the sponsor knows will never pass into law, and go home to applause from their most like-minded constituents. It is difficult to leave the echo chamber and work across the aisle, with individuals who have different backgrounds than yourself, and find common ground.

The most obvious example of this is the climate change debate in our country, where my Democratic colleagues have taken the easy path. The bill we are voting on today has 224 Democratic cosponsors, and not a single Republican. Instead of working with Republicans on our four-part approach to addressing climate change through American innovation, conservation, adaptation, and preparation, we are sending a partisan bill to die in the Senate.

I attempted to work with my colleagues on this bill. I offered a good-faith amendment that would increase transparency and competition by comparing the emissions produced by all of the countries in the Paris Agreement. This amendment wasn’t even allowed a vote by the Democratic leadership, although there was no problem allowing votes on all their Democratic friend’s amendments. In fact, only three republican amendments will be considered compared to the 26 democrat amendments that we will debate. To my colleagues on the other side, are you afraid of hurting the feelings of Russia and China by pointing out that they are not pulling their weight? 

I have long been a proponent of protecting the environment and I was proud to receive the Utah Clean Air Partnership person of the year award in 2017. I have championed hundreds of thousands of acres of bipartisan conservation in Utah. I, like all Utahns, care deeply about conserving our way of life for future generations.

But I cannot vote for HR 9 because I believe it drives us further apart—reinforcing a false narrative that all Republicans don’t care about the environment because they are unwilling to get on board with an all-or-nothing, unrealistic approach to addressing climate change.

HR 9 completely ignores the serious and legitimate concerns about the costs and effectiveness of the Paris Agreement.

HR 9 ignores that President Obama’s pledge in the Paris Agreement could cost the U.S. $250 billion dollars and nearly 3 million jobs in the next six years. It ignores that in the next twenty years, these commitments could cost us $3 trillion dollars and 6.5 million jobs.

HR 9 also ignores that because of innovation and technological development, the United States is already leading the world in reducing greenhouse gas. Since 2000, the United States has decreased annual carbon dioxide emissions by nearly 800 million tons—the largest absolute decline among all countries since 2000.

HR 9 ignores the fact that if the United States cut their CO2 emissions to zero, it would not come even close to offsetting the emissions coming from the rest of the world.

HR 9 even ignores that the Paris agreement allows China—the earth’s largest greenhouse gas polluter—to increase their emissions through 2030, with little evidence to show that they plan to comply in the future.

I’ve heard over and over that the US must remain in the Paris Agreement to “show leadership.” What kind of leadership leads to double-digit unemployment in rural America but lets China off the hook?

I agree that America must continue to show leadership. But let’s focus on leadership that goes back to the core principles of innovation, conservation, adaptation, and preparation. This bill fails to do any of that.

Let’s continue leading the world in bettering our environment—but let’s not pretend that HR 9 is the silver bullet to our evolving world. It’s time to stop with the easy, cheap rhetoric that offers false promises and divides our country even further.”

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CURTIS FOR CONGRESS:
Phone: (385) 325-0655   Email: info@johncurtis.org   
Mailing Address:  P.O. Box 296   Provo, UT  84603-0296

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